Date: 20th November 2018
It was a good idea to visit Kankakei on my second day in Shodoshima. Compared to the first day when I arrived there in which it was cloudy the whole day, it was all sun and shine on the second day.
My original plan was to drive up to the upper station – the Sancho Summit Station via the Shodoshima Skyline, which did not happened. When I picked up my rental car upon arriving in Shodoshima the day before, the rental car agent was strongly advising me against driving to Kankakei’s upper station. Instead, he advised that I drive to the lower station, Kountei. He said it was very dangerous and even strikethrough the mapcode of the upper station in the guide file he gave me (laughs). Well, he obviously did not expect me to drive to Kasaneiwa or Nishinotakiryusuiji. Anyways, I considered what he said and decided to follow his advise.
The journey took almost the same time as I was coming from Tonosho, just that I missed the Shodoshima Skyline (that is a lot of miss), but I was rewarded with other views of the sea and even stopped for some pictures near Uchinomi Dam.
Kankakei (寒霞渓) is a gorge formed by volcanic activities for over two million years, from 13 million years ago, resulting in a unique yet beautiful landscape of rock formations. The gorge is covered by a plethora of maple trees, flaming in bright red, orange and yellow colors during the autumn season, reaching its peak in the second half of November.
A lot of people I met back in Okayama and in Shodoshima who knew I was going to Kankakei often commented that ‘now’ is the right time to see the autumn leaves. They were right! I was pessimistic about witnessing the autumn colors here at that time of the month, as I have not fully grasp the autumn timing in Shikoku.
Do not worry about having to come here in autumn though; it offers a different yet still panoramic view in spring with its fresh green colors, summer with its deep green colors and winter snow landscape.
I was glad I arrived early (9 a.m.) and that it was not a weekend. The queue I see on some other blog is scary!
I wished the ropeway ride was longer. Even though it was a weekday, it was crowded thanks to the bursting autumn colors. I managed to find myself on the lower side of the car, taking shots while looking down. Probably should have taken another trip just for the photos! It definitely earned it’s Top 3 Beautiful Gorge in Japan spot. The sight of the sea, the sky and the gorge all in one was amazing.
There are two observatories on the Sancho Summit Station, both of which offer superb views of the ravine. There are restaurants and souvenir shop around the upper station as well, in which the Olive Beef Croquette Burger or Olive Soft Cream are highly recommended.
At the first observatory, you can try kawaranage by throwing small clay discs through a hoop as seen in the picture below. It is believed that your wish will come true if you successfully throw the disc through the hoop.
So, what else to do here? Fret not, there are plenty hiking opportunities in Kankakei.
Kankakei Omote 12 Scenes Trail (between lower and upper station)
This is what I opted for and I will write about this route on my next post.
- Length: 2km
- Time required: 1 hour (up), 45 mins (down)
- Road conditions: Concrete pavement and unpaved mountain road
- Passes Takatori Observatory and Shibocho Observatory
Kankakei Ura 8 Scenes Trail (between Inotani-ike and upper station)
- Length: 1.8km
- Time required: 1 hr 15 mins (up), 50 mins (down)
- Road conditions: Concrete pavement and stone pavement
Mt. Hoshigajo (816m) (from the upper station)
- Length: 3.3km
- Time required: 1 hr (up), 50 mins (down)
- Highest point in Shodoshima and the Seto Inland Sea
The hiking trail to Mt. Hoshigajo passes by Azukijima Shrine which enshrines Onudehime, the local god of Shodoshima. Based on Japanese mythology, Azukijima or now known as Shodoshima was the second Japanese island after the first eight large islands to be created by Izanagi and Izanami during the kuniumi (birth of the islands / creation of Japan).
Also, this is where the remains of Hoshigajo Castle can be found. Though I initially planned to do this hike, I skipped this due to the absence of people at the start of the trail. Would definitely return to do this hike and the Ura 8 Scenes Trail.
- Fare: 980 yen one-way / 1,760 yen round-trip
- Opening time: 08:36 (08:00 between 21/10 to 30/11)
- Closing time: 17:00 (16:30 between 21/12 to 20/03)
- Closing days: None
- Frequency: Every 12 mins (every 6 mins during peak season)
- Ride-time: 5 minutes
- Take the Kankakei line from Kusakabe Port to Kountei (lower station)
- 6 times / day
- 14 mins ride, 360 yen
- Only operates on:
- Weekends and Public Holidays between 05/09 to 07/10, and mid May to mid July
- Daily between 08/10 to 11/12
- Does not operate between 12/12 to 18/03
Taxi: 2,500 yen from Kusakabe Port to Kountei (lower station), 11 mins ride
- From Kusakabe Port: 11 minutes (lower station), 25 minutes (upper station)
- From Tonosho Port: 35 minutes (lower station / upper station)
- From Fukuda Port: 35 minutes (lower station / upper station)
- From Obe Port: 40 minutes (lower station), 20 minutes (upper station)
Kountei (Lower Station)
Sancho Summit Station (Upper Station)