Gently cruise along the Satestu River where a dreamy world awaits. A calm, natural space with each season bringing transformation to the bare cliff faces that tower 50-100 meters.
Geibikei in Iwate Prefecture, is regarded as one of Japan's top gorges and holds a place in the 100 Landscapes of Japan. I personally love it so much that I've been every season and also celebrated my wedding here.
The glory of this attraction can be experienced any time of year.
Spring: in late-April, the lone cherry blossom, in early-May, wild wisteria decorate the rocks.
Summer: Lush greenery all around.
Autumn: Brilliant autumn foliage.
Winter: Monochromatic winter wonderland that is experienced by the yakatabune (Japanese-style roofed boat) and 'kotasu' boat which operate from December to February .
Boats are in operation everyday of the year, in rain or shine. Although the Tohoku Region is generally considered cooler than many parts of Japan, the summer months are none-the-less brutal, 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
The smooth, scenic 90-minute boat ride up and down the river is famed for its boatmen that navigate each way with a single pole. On the way up, you will see a small shrine as well as interesting rock formations; some of which resemble faces. Feeding the entourage of carp and ducks that follow closely is an additional delight.
There is a disembarkation point where you can stretch your legs for 20 minutes before heading back. A memorable activity during the stop off is the fortune stone-throw challenge. Firstly, you will need to purchase 5 fortune stones (200yen) which have certain blessings 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.
On the way back, the traditional Geibi Oiwake ballad is performed by the charismatic boatman. This part of the trip is absolutely surreal. 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. The '東山和紙 紙すき館 - Tozan Washi Kamisuki Kan is renowned for its traditional Japanese paper (washi). 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. Washi making experiences are also available.
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