TravelogSpectacular views in Kanose and Tsunogami
Crags in Kanose: Mount Kirin
Dubbed "Fox Turn-back Castle" for the steep slopes said to make skittish foxes think twice
Mount Kirinzan is made of crags measuring 194.7 meters high, located at the meeting point of the Agano River and the River Tokonami. Tsugawa Castle was built on the mountain in 1252, and today the castle site and the surrounding area make up Kirinzan Park. A number of castle remnants, such as the dry stone walls, remain and the ruin is designated a Niigata Prefecture historic site.
Mount Kirinzan is home to a variety of plants and flowers blooming beautifully in each season: snow camellias and dogtooth violets in spring, hydrangeas (ezoajisai) in summer, triflora (ezorindo) and Japanese asters in autumn. The vegetation on Mount Kirinzan is so abundant and diverse that the plant clusters are designated Niigata Prefecture's Natural Monument. A 30-minute walk along the trail path leads to a vantage point called "White Fox," where you can overlook the red bridge spanning beyond the meeting point of the Agano River and the Tokonami River. The town of Tsugawa on the other side of the bank can also be viewed from this point, and weather permitting, even distant mountains.
The banks nearby are a favorite local spot to enjoy casual river activities in summer, and the beautiful and rocky Senjo-iwa area was used as the major filming location for “They Say Nothing Stays the Same” (2019).
Kanose Dam and Tsunogami Lakeside
Once one of Asia's largest: Kanose Dam at Kanose Power Station
A drive from Mount Kirinzan through the Tsunogami onsen district, past the red Kanosebashi suspension bridge, will take you to the Kanose Dam at Kanose Power Station, one of the largest of its kind in Asia at the time of construction in 1928. The sight of twenty huge sluice gates lining up along the calm flow of the Agano River is spectacular. Sometimes, all of the gates are opened to release excess water. On the shore of the dam reservoir, Lake Tsunogami, you can find tourist attractions like Okuaga Hometown Museum and Tsunogami Snow Camellia Garden. Enjoy a nice stroll along the lake under cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.
Abundant nature: Akazakiyama Forest Park
Encounter the spellbinding sea of clouds from a bird's eye view.
Measuring 371.9-meters tall, Mount Akazaki is covered in a network of hiking trails for all experience levels, from casual walkers to seasoned mountain hikers. The mountain-top parking lot is a 15-minute drive away from the national route. One of the scenic spots accessible by car is a lookout point named "Celestial Maiden's Flower Raft." From here you can overlook the magnificent flow of the Agano River, the spectacular Kanose Dam, and the distant Iide Mountains. In spring, the landscape is filled with flowers, including cherry blossoms, and in autumn, red, gold and green foliage will turn the landscape into a kaleidoscope of color.
Mount Akazaki is dotted with beech woods, creating a mostly level track perfect for a relaxing walk. Many birds such as Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Narcissus Flycatcher inhabit the mountains, and beautiful chirps resonate in the tranquil air. If you are lucky, you might encounter Japanese serow (a wild goat/antelope named a special natural monument), foxes and squirrels. Asian black bears also live in the mountains, so bring a bear bell to avoid an unexpected encounter with them.
Kanose Onsen's "Akayu" (red-colored hot water)
Iron-rich hot red water
After trekking, visit the Akayu bathhouse nearby and refresh yourself. This water, continuously fed 100% from the source, is surprisingly hot (59℃/138.2ºF)! The waters have a reputation for soothing muscle pain and helping recovery from fatigue, so the bathhouse is thronged with both locals and tourists in the evenings. First-timers are advised to start bathing in the open-air bath, where the water temperature has been lowered.
The on-site restaurant offers both lunch and dinner, serving kamameshi (rice cooked in a pot with other ingredients) and dishes prepared using Yukitsubaki-brand udon noodles, a local specialty.
Tsunogami Fudo Falls
Great waterfall over 20 meters high
Tsunogami Fudo Falls are located a 5-minute walk from the parking lot along the national route. The bottom part of the waterfall is called Ichi no Taki (first waterfall), and the upper part, Ni no Taki (second waterfall).
Admire the view of Ichi no Taki dropping down through jagged rocks, then climb the stairs to see the second waterfall making a cooling splash. When the snow begins to melt, the increased amount of water makes a dynamic scene. It's a perfect spot for those in need of a refreshing moment.