Conveniently located not so far away from Sendai, Futakuchi Canyon is an enchanting spot for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city – and it is relatively unknown to most people.
NOTE: Access information will be provided at the end of the article.
Last Autumn I was feeling a bit bored and wished to escape my tedious student life for a bit. At the same time, I visited Akiu Great Waterfall (a tourist spot nearby Sendai) and I noticed that the bus I took to get there goes further than the waterfall. Its last stop is a place called ‘Futakuchi’. Curious, I ran a quick search on Google and found out about Futakuchi Canyon after a lighthearted ‘exploration’ of Google Maps.
Information about Futakuchi Canyon is non-existent in English and even in Japanese there is not much to be found! All I know is that the canyon area is designated as part of Zao Quasi National Park. After further digging I found out that the canyon is part of the extensive hiking routes sprawling between Omoshiroyama-kougen, Yamagata prefecture and Miyagi prefecture.
The discovery hyped me out and I asked a friend, Steven, to accompany me on a venture there. We first took a train to Ayashi station via the Senzan line, then took a bus from the station to Futakuchi. It was around November when we went there and we were expecting to see beautiful autumn foliage. How surprised we were when we saw traces of snow along the way! My friend Steven could not contain his excitement, for he had never seen snow before – it was his first at the time, anyways.
Arriving at the last stop of the bus route, we stopped at Sendai City Akiu Visitor Center. For me it was quite a pleasant surprise that they have this information place in such a remote location. You can get a lot of information about the surrounding area here. Unfortunately, for the time being, everything is written in Japanese; it will probably take some time before English becomes staple.
We were told that the autumn leaves are almost over by a week or two! Though sighing with disappointment, we inquired if there was a recommended spot. Despite the warning of bear sightings, we could travel along a nature trail not so far from the center if we were careful enough. Bear or no bear, after coming all this way, we kept pressing on!
To get to the nature trail, we had to walk along the main road for just about 15 minutes. There was barely anybody there. We saw a camping ground on the way and a sign about Banji Rock, a row of jutting cliffs towering in the distance. Banji Rock is seemingly interesting in summer so we planned another visit next time.
Reaching the nature trail, we were treated by great view and the accompanying audio: the sound of river flowing, the sound of wind whirling through the leaves and the sound of chirping birds. Though some of the leaves have started to turn brown, we could still see some remnants of Autumn colours. Going further along the trail we heard some rumbling noise in the distance. We were thrilled. It must be Shimai Waterfall, the highlight of the nature trail we walked on.
And yes, the waterfall came into our view after we crossed a bridge across the river. The waterfall itself means ‘sisters’ in English because there are two waterfalls side by side, hence the name. Though the water was as cold as ice, to get the best angle for a photo we removed our shoes and braced ourselves, fording into the freezing river. It was such an awesome sensation. The view was just beautiful and we spent some time barefoot on top of a protruding rock in the river. An old Japanese man joined us midway as he was looking for the best spot to take pictures as well. We chatted for a while.
Although we would have liked to stay longer in Futakuchi, it was too bad – we had to get on our way soon. The bus to Ayashi station leaves only twice a day and we did not want to get stranded in the canyon for sure. It was such an interesting place! You can even hike here. I will surely come back again, time permitting, to get more shots of Futakuchi!
|Access information||From Tokyo:
Take Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Sendai Station then change to JR Senzan line, stopping in Ayashi Station. From Ayashi Station take Sendai bus no 87 to Futakuchi Canyon 二口行 (35 minutes, ¥960 one-way trip).
From Sendai Station take JR Senzan line to Ayashi Station. From Ayashi Station take Sendai bus no 87 to Futakuchi Canyon 二口行 (35 minutes, ¥960 one-way trip).
Recommended Sendai Marugoto Pass:
Unlimited ride on JR train, subway and even bus around Sendai valid for 2 days.
|Useful websites||Sendai Tourism Information Desk
Sendai Official Tourism Website
Written by Jerfareza Daviano