Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/04/04
Japan’s mountains attract adventurers from all over, but let’s not forget that along with mountainous terrain comes gorgeous canyons and waterfalls. The Yorokeikoku, or Yoro Valley in Otaki Town, is a winding and beautiful valley that travels along Chiba’s bountiful hot spring vein. You’ll be treated to beautiful views from high up, staggering cliffs, and moreover be impressed at the years of engineering and development that made it possible for people to have a comfortable life here.
Otaki Town, aside from Otaki Castle, is best known for its agricultural heritage and complex landscapes. The Yoro Valley brings these together in a journey of light trekking and exploring the inner network of trails and temples in this unique terrain.
A great place that many begin their exploration is at the taki-meguri (waterfall walking route) that starts along the Yoro Valley’s main river, not far from its source. It is accessed by bus or taxi either from Kazusa Nakano Station or Yorokeikoku Station on the scenic Kominato Railway, or visitors with cars can take advantage of the ample parking here. The Awamata Waterfall here is massive and wide, yet sloped at a gentle angle. The view from the top is thrilling, and the shallow edges of the basin at the waterfall’s base is perfect for wading around.
The journey only begins at the Awamata Waterfall however. The paved walking route weaves along downriver with other waterfalls dotting the staggering cliffs on either side. The route is not very long, at about 2 kilometers, and loops around to another parking lot on the far end of the course. It’s an easy yet adventurous walk, and the perfect distance to top off with a light meal, soft serve ice cream, and souvenir shopping back near the course entrance.
Higher up on the cliff overlooking the waterfalls reveals the lush extent of this valley. The thick greens in summer fill your vision in a dizzying display of nature, and many come as it cools off in fall for the koyo reddening leaves, as well as other fall colors.
There are other places to explore in the Yoro Valley as well. You can start from Yorokeikoku Station, and explore along the rivers and bridges. The “Bungalow Village and Kōbundō-ato Course” and “Mt. Daifuku and Umegase Course” are both popular, and you can follow signs directing you along the way. The Bungalow Village and Kōbundō-ato Course is especially recommended, as it takes you by the unique Kōbundō-ato, which is the ruins of a major arch hollowed out in the rock at the meeting point of two rivers. It collapsed in the 1970’s.
Furthermore, walking along the rivers and winding streets, surrounded by high cliffs and trees will give you a keen appreciation on how people have long been carving and reshaping this area.
Long considered a tourist location for its hot springs, the Yoro Valley makes for a great day trip or overnight stay at one of the many inns scattered throughout the area that serve fresh local foods, and channel the mineral-rich hot springs right into their baths.
157 Awamata, Otaki Town, Isumigun (Awamata Waterfall Parking Lot)
(Awamata Waterfall Parking Lot: 1-minute walk from the last stop on the bus bound for Awamata Waterfall from Kazusa Nakano Station on the Kominato and Isumi railways)