Drone footage of scenic Japan Vol.1 Shiobara Gorge – waiting for spring
Shiobara Gorge in Shiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture. Late March footage of the Nunotaki Falls and Hōki-gawa, the river that carved out this ravine. Although desolate at this time of the year, Shiobara Gorge will soon be clad in the bright greens of new spring leaves.
We begin at the Nunotaki Falls and fly up the Hōki-gawa at a low altitude. Partway up the river, we ascend to 120 metres to get a bird’s eye view of the Shiobara Gorge. We then descend gradually to capture footage of the clear waters of the river.
(Filmed 24 March 2018)
The Hōki-gawa River, which meanders through Shiobara Onsen (hot springs) Village, has its source in the mountains on the western boundary of Nasu-Shiobara City. The Shiobara Gorge is a six kilometre stretch of v-shaped ravine formed by the river flowing through lava rock from the volcanoes on the plateau to the east of the valley. There are numerous waterfalls and rapids along the river, as well as deep pools and huge, bizarrely shaped rock formations, making it one of Tochigi Prefecture’s most scenic areas.
The forests on the steep sides of the ravine change colour according to the seasons, but at the moment, with leaf buds not yet open, the sombre tones of winter still linger. There is a strong sense of the power of nature here – one cannot help but feel invigorated by the fast flowing water and its spray as it hits the rocks.
Fed by eleven separate hot springs sources, the waters of Shiobara Onsen Village have been enjoyed by people for more than 1200 years, although the area became particularly popular after a proper road made it more accessible during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912). Novelist Natsume Soseki visited the onsen, and this was where the main character of Kōyō Ozaki’s novel, The Golden Demon, amused himself. Descriptions of the area’s scenic beauty in Ozaki’s novel drew many other well-known Meiji Period writers and artists, fifty of whom have had monuments dedicated to them here.
A walking path alongside the river makes it easy to experience the natural beauty of the gorge up close.
Pianist and novelist
Yūji Fujinuma works as a freelance editor and journalist. His main subject matter is plants and animals, nature, history and culture.
Judy Evans is a high school teacher of English and Japanese, and a Japanese-English translator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Art History and has studied production horticulture and landscape design. Judy has a keen interest in the internet environment and has administered websites for a number of organisations. She lives on a small farm in rural New Zealand and is a frequent visitor to Japan.