Cruise gently down the river, where a dreamy world awaits. A calm, natural space where trees seasonally change and flowers decorate the bare rocks.
Geibikei is regarded as one of Japan's top gorges and has a spot in the '100 landscapes of Japan' as well as being designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty and National Monument. I personally love it so much that I've been every season and also celebrated my wedding here!
This attraction is beautiful anytime of year with the landscape transforming each season.
Spring: in late-April, the 'lone cherry blossom' blooms. In early-May, witness the wisteria decorated rocks.
Summer: Lush greenery all around.
Autumn: Brilliant autumn foliage paint the gorge.
Winter: Surreal, monochromatic winter wonderland. Yakatabune (Japanese-style roofed boat) operate during winter. You can also enjoy hotpot cuisine and keep warm in the 'kotasu' boat which operates from December to February.
Boats are in operation everyday of the year, in rain or shine. It can get very hot in the summer months, so make sure to bring a hat. If it rains, you may find yourself drifting through a romantic mist. Strong winds and torrential rains may cause cancellation of operations.
The boat ride itself is smooth, the waters clear and as the boatman's pole hits the riverbank, you hear a strong 'clack' that resonates around the gorge. On the way up, you will see a small shrine as well as some interesting rock formations that look like faces. You can also feed the entourage of carp and ducks that closely follow your boat.
There is a disembarkation point where you can stretch your legs for 20 minutes before heading back. A fun and memorable activity that you can do during the stop off, is the fortune stone-throw challenge. Firstly, you will need to purchase 5 fortune stones (200yen) which have certain blessing carved into each. Don't get too attached to them as you will be desperately trying to hurl them into a tiny hole in the cliff face. If you get the rock in, you are blessed with the fortune attributed to that stone. I've tried more than 20 times altogether but my stones barely make the cliff!
On the way back, you will be treated to a beautiful song performed by the boatman/woman. This part of the trip is absolutely surreal. The boatmen/women are all friendly, witty and extraordinary singers. Although your tour will likely be in Japanese, don't let that deter you! It's a magical experience for all.
Within and around the Geibikei facility, there are restaurants such as the Geibikei rest-house that specialize in soba noodles (halal meals are also available). A few souvenir shops are also in the vicinity. A shop that I particularly recommend is the '東山和紙 紙すき館 - Tozan Washi Kamisuki Kan' which specializes in traditional Japanese paper (washi), which is famous to the area. Here you can find beautiful, unique souvenirs such as coasters and postcards made of washi, and items such as clothing which are made out of paper-cloth. You can also experience how to make washi paper!
For more information, please read the details and check out Geibikei's English website.
*Geibikei is sometimes referred to as 'Geibi Gorge' or 'Geibikei Gorge' but don't confuse it with Gembikei Gorge (another gorge in Ichinoseki)
Address: 〒029-0302 Iwate Prefecture, Ichinoseki, Higashiyamacho Nagasaka, 467番地
Open: Everyday of the year
Hours: April~August: 8:30-16:30,
September~October: 8:30-16:00, November~March: 9:00-15:00
Admission: Adults 1600 / Elementary School children: 860yen / Kindergarten and under: 200yen.
Access: 【ＪＲOfunato】Ichinoseki Station to Geibikei Station（30min）→ 5 min walk 【Bus】Catch from Ichinoseki Station West Exit (bus stop 7) to Geibikei- guchi（42mins）
【Car】30min from Ichinoseki
English Website: http://www.geibikei.co.jp/en/index.html