The Four Waterfalls

Taki map IMG_1868

There are four lovely waterfalls near Kanayama town that can be hiked in about an hour and a half for the round-trip. The trail begins at the Hakusan Jinja and it follows the rushing stream, of course heading into the valley. There is a parking area just before the first waterfall, so we left the car here while we hiked the rest of the way. It is a distance of 1.3km on the trail from the first waterfall to the fourth, but it is longer than that since we have to descend on stairs or a sloping trail down to the pool at the bottom of each fall, and then up again.

DSC03932 Shirotaki

The four waterfalls of Kanayama are mentioned in a legend about a princess and a golden rooster. This story is excerpted from the post at Okunomichi.

The Princess and the Golden Rooster: A Legend

Once upon a time:  A golden rooster lived in Kyoto during the Heian period. It crowed every New Year’s Day during the four centuries of peace. Then, in the year 1093, war broke out and the golden rooster flew away.

The Princess Kogane-Hime, a devout Buddhist who missed the rooster, faced Hiei-zan. She heard a message:  Go to a mountain of waterfalls. So she traveled far and long and finally reached Hida-Kanayama at the end of the year.

She could hear the voice of the rooster, but search as she did, she could not see it. She went from one waterfall to another: The Shirataki and the Ni-no-taki, and finally a third waterfall. She stood under the water to purify herself. Suddenly, she heard the golden rooster.

The falls she stood under became known as Keimei-taki of Yokotani Gorge.

Although the rooster refused to return to Kyoto, Kogane-Hime gathered some herbs for her ailing mother and went back to Kyoto in time to save her mother. The princess became known for her compassion and was regarded as the goddess of children.

The Four Waterfalls

First Waterfall:  白滝  Shirataki (White Falls)

DSC03934 Shirotaki (portrait)

DSC03936 waters of Shirotaki

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DSC03950 top of Shirotaki

The top of the first waterfall as seen on the hike to the second.

 

Second Waterfall:  二見滝  Futami Taki (Double Falls)

 

Third Waterfall:  紅葉滝  Momiji Taki (Maple Falls)

DSC03966 Third TakiDSC03968 Third Taki

DSC03969 Third Taki (landscape)

DSC03962 Sign to Fourth Taki

 

300m to the fourth waterfall.

 

Fourth Waterfall:  鶏鳴滝  Keimei Taki (Rooster Falls)

DSC03975 Keimei Taki sign

 

 

 

 

 

DSC03978 Keimei Taki (portrait)DSC03987 Keimei Taki (landscape)

A Hidden World

Each waterfall is contained in a little valley of its own. The curtain of rushing white water, the pool at the bottom, the rivulets, and the green trees and grasses — all form a private sanctuary far away from daily life. We can really relax, meditate, and appreciate being one with Nature. We return to our regular lives feeling happy and refreshed.

DSC03977 Keimei (portrait)

 

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Summer Solstice.  June 21, 2017

DSC03812 Summer solstice mornng

Summer solstice day, June 21, 2017, was drizzly all day. There was no hope of seeing a spotlight. However, we went to the megaliths anyway. And we were glad we did.

The megaliths were dark and glistening with rain. They were absolutely magnificent!

Looking down into the upper grotto, the signboard is seen but it is quite dark inside.

DSC03820 Upper grotto is darkDSC03822 umbrella dayDSC03845 Children between Stones A and B

So let’s run in the drizzle instead!

Children amongst the boulders, little ones and the giants.

We found a carpet of wet leaves — and an astonishing type of plant!

DSC03827 wet leaves

DSC03826 unusual plants

 

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Kimi no Na Wa (the Movie Your Name) and the Land of Hida

Posters of Hida Kanayama by Shiho Tokuda

The Movie Kimi no Na wa (君の名は)

Did you know that the block-buster move, Your Name, takes place in Hida as well as in Tokyo? Not only is it a terrific movie, it is highly relevant to followers of this Iwakage blogsite about Kanayama Megaliths and Hida Kanayama.

Hida Furukawa is the real-life name of the movie town of Itomori where Mitsuha lives with her sister and grandmother. Through life in Itomori, we learn about traditional culture, shrine rituals and festivals. We eventually come to realize the deeper meaning of the movie. We discussed some this on the Okunomichi blogsite. 

https://okunomichi.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/kimi-no-na-wa-and-musubi/

https://okunomichi.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/twilight/

There are many hits when you search on keywords from the movie. You can easily find the places in Tokyo where the scenes in the movie take place. With a little more effort, you’ll learn the places in Hida that are depicted. People are talking about pilgrimages to these places in Hida.

May I suggest a mini-pilgrimage to the Kanayama Megaliths?

Now, let’s point out some scenes from the movie that are relevant when visiting Hida and Kanayama.

Hida Kanayama Train Station

If you take the Hida Wide-View express train to Hida Kanayama station, you already know how quaint the station is. There is the station-master’s room (and sometimes he’s not even there when you arrive). There are only two tracks, one going north and the other south. There is a covered overpass with stairs at each end (no elevator) to cross over the tracks. The train station in the movie is modeled after the Furukawa station. It looks almost exactly like the Hida Kanayama station!

Posters of Kanayama

Inside the waiting room of the Hida Kanayama station, there are some very large posters showing the beautiful vistas of Kanayama and the Kanayama Megaliths. These are the creations of our very own Shiho Tokuda. You can see three of her posters at the top of the earlier post.  And here they are again. There is a scene in the movie where Taki’s friends are in the lobby discussing the trip to Itomori. In the background behind Miki Okudera and Tsukasa can be seen the bottom halves of posters. The posters resemble, but are not the same as Kanayama Megaliths, the waterfalls, and the kinkotsu walking tour of Kanayama.   

The Megalith

The goshintai of Grandmother’s shrine is the megalith in the center of the meteor crater. Mitsuha goes there with Grandmother and leaves the kuchikamizake there in the iwaya cavern of the megalith. Later, Taki enters the cavern and finds the sake. Not all megalithic structures in Japan have caverns, so this is unusual. Although the megalith in the movie does not physically resemble the Iwaya-Iwakage of the Kanayama Megaliths, I felt that they were still very similar to each other. If you have been inside the Iwaya-Iwakage, you may have the same feeling of sanctity and mystery.

spotko-05-22-dsc03560_212

Photo of Myoken Shrine in the cavern of Iwaya-Iwakage

I can’t help but feel that Makoto Shinkai, before making the movie, went to Kanayama and visited the Kanayama Megaliths. He has a deep sense of the nature of the land of Hida. Why don’t you come and discover Hida Kanayama for yourself?

 

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May 23 Sunrise over Stone C

During the summer observational season, the sun clears the top of Stone C, as seen from Stone A, near the middle. As page 31 of the Guidebook shows, the sun is at the exact center on summer solstice day, 6/21. That is as far north, i.e., to the left, as it can go.

The three photos above were taken by Chika-san on May 23 from 8:25 to 8:26 am. The sun on that day appeared slightly to the right of center because there are still around 29 days to go before summer solstice.

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May 23 Morning Sunlight on Lower Grotto

These photos were taken by Chika-san at sunrise on May 23, 2017 at Senkoku-ishi. We are looking at Stone A, standing near Stone C with our back to the rising sun. The first two photos were taken at 6:22 and at 6:28 am. Notice that the sun has risen and shines on the upper right part of Stone A, but the grottos are not yet illuminated. The third and fourth photos were taken at 6:36 and at 6:42 am. The shadow of Stone C on A is now clearly seen, and the lower grotto is still in shade at 6:36 but it is lit at 6:42am. The final photo is a close-up of the opening of the lower grotto at 6:42.

Please refer to page 30 in the Guidebook. The three photos shown on that page are dated 4/22, 6/21, and 8/20. The date of 4/22 is about 60 days before the summer solstice. The lower grotto is in deep shadow. The date of 6/21 is the summer solstice when the grotto is fully illuminated.

The photos we show above were taken around thirty days before the summer solstice. They show us how the lower grotto is gradually illuminated, minute by minute.

 

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