Kakusenkei Gorge 鶴仙渓 is a gorgeous (pun not intended) natural formation in the depths of Yamanaka Onsen, a hot spring town, of Ishikawa Prefecture. The beauty of the gorge changes with each season.
Some argue that autumn is most beautiful when the gorge is dressed in various shades of orange and red. Others would vouch that snow-cloaked gorge is a stunning sight.
A famous Haiku poet Matsuo Basho 松尾 芭蕉, was said to have visited Yamanaka Onsen in 1689. He fell in love with the area. There are various buildings erected in his memory. The most prominent piece is the “Basho Hall” which enshrines a statue of him. For those interested to read more about places commemorating Basho, you can check out this [link] though it is mostly in Japanese
Kakusenkei has three famous bridges. The first two will be written in this post, and the third in a separate one.
An Attempt to visit @ Korogi Bridge
As we drove from Tsuruga, northwards towards Kakusenkei, the first place we wanted to visit is the famous Korogi Bridge こおろぎ橋, a 21 meter long charming structure that is made of cypress wood. It is the first bridge which the Daishoji River 大聖寺川 encounters as it flows downstream, through the heart of Kakusenkei Gorge. Korogi Bridge is often regarded as a symbol of Yamanaka Onsen. Commonly, the picture of Korogi Bridge is shown on pamphlets or websites promoting Yamanaka Onsen and Kakusenkei Gorge.
Unfortunately it was under renovation so we could not visit it.
We parked here [Google map link]
Still feeling optimistic, we headed downstream of Daishoji River, towards the heart of Kakusenkei Gorge, to the next bridge
Visit @ Ayatori Bridge
We parked here: [Google map link] (free parking - right beside Ayatori Bridge)
This crimson steel structure is named after Ayatori, a game played by young Japanese children, usually girls. Another name for this game is Cat’s Cradle. Players manipulate strings around their fingers to form different figures such as butterflies, star, broom, ladder etc.
This is a sample of how one might make Eiffel Tower figure with string.
Because the bridge resembles something that can be created during a game of Ayatori, hence the name. For those who would like to know more about the game Ayatori, can read here. https://www.fun-japan.jp/intl/articles/9565
Walking along the sturdy Ayatori bridge is exciting. Suspended high above the river, one can enjoy the bird’s eye view of the gorge. Not far below, one can spot the Kawadoko tea house.
Tea @ Kakusenkei Kawadoko
9:30am-4pm. No bathroom available. Kawadoko set: ¥600 (Choice of Chilled Matcha Shiruko or Cream roll)
Sitting fee (Just to sit + no food/drink): ¥300
It feels magical being here. One has a choice of sitting on tatami-mats or benches, the former being the more popular sitting option. We see a number of families bringing little ones here. It is a memorable experience sitting here, next to the energetic river, rushing downstream.