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Photo By: PIXTA/ 阿木(アボク)
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Oni no Shitaburui Gorge

A prefectural nature park and a hidden gem for hikers and culture buffs.

By Laura Payne

Located in the forests of Shimane Prefecture in the town of Okuizumo, Oni no Shitaburui Gorge is a prefectural nature park and a hidden gem for hikers and culture buffs. Walking trails lead visitors along the Omaki River, past otherworldly rock formations and through lush woods that are a popular leaf-viewing destination in autumn. On top of that, Oni no Shitaburui is a cultural landmark because according to historical records, this gorge is the setting of a local myth.

Hitting the Trail

Oni no Shitaburui

Photo by: PIXTA/BlackRabbit3 A perfect hike for autumn.

The best place to start hiking Oni no Shitaburui is adjacent to the Une Parking Lot and Shitaburuitei restaurant. Here, a suspension bridge offers panoramic views from 45 meters in the air and allows access to trails on either side of the gorge—one of which is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Typically, hiking the entire length of the gorge takes about an hour one way.

Oni no Shitaburui’s trails end at the Shimotakao Parking Lot. From here visitors have the choice to walk back through the gorge—there are bridges that allow hikers to access the opposite side of the river—or return via rental bikes. With an advance reservation, the Okuizumo Tourist Information Office will provide bikes at Shimotakao, which visitors can ride along the local Route 25 and return at Une Parking Lot.

Stories in the Stones

Oni no Shitaburui

Photo by: PIXTA/ 阿木(アボク) Try to spot as many of the different rock formations as you can.

Oni no Shitaburui’s rock formations carry names based on their appearance such as Hando Iwa (Water Jar Rock) and Oni no Rakurui Iwa (Demon’s Tears Rock). Oni no Rakurui Iwa is one of the gorge’s most famous stones because it is connected to a local myth of unrequited love.

According to the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki (a record of regional geography, traditions and mythology compiled in the 8th century), the gorge is home to a goddess named Tamahime. Long ago, a shark was entranced by her beauty and swam up the river night after night to profess love to her. Frightened rather than flattered, Tamahime dammed the river with boulders, which prevented the shark from reaching her. Oni no Rakurui Iwa is said to resemble the shark’s crying face, longing for Tamahime’s love.

The shark’s longing, written in Japanese as wani no shitau, is theorized to be the origin of the name Oni no Shitaburui. “Wani” is an old word for shark, but it sounds similar to “oni.” Perhaps changes in pronunciation over the centuries created a new name.

Things To Know

BEST TIME TO HIKE

While hiking, stay on the marked trails and follow the posted signs carefully. The best time to visit Oni no Shitaburui is from April until about mid-December. Autumn leaf viewing season usually occurs between late October and mid-November. Hiking is not allowed later in the winter due to snowfall.

There are no trash cans in the gorge, so make sure to take any trash you have home. Restrooms are available at Une Parking Lot and Shimotakao Parking Lot. Smoking is not allowed in the gorge.

Rental bicycles are available from late March to late November between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations should be made at least one day in advance and can be made online or by phone. On the day of your rental, please confirm it in person at the Okuizumo Tourist Information Office at Izumo-Minari Station before heading to Oni no Shitaburui.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Take the JR Kisuki Line to Izumo-Minari station or Izumo-Yokota station. From there, take a bus on the Maki Line to Oni no Shitaburui. This bus departs infrequently, so make sure to check the timetables. The Okuizumo Tourist Information Office (open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) located in Izumo-Minari Station can provide details on transportation.

By bus

For the greatest flexibility, rent a car in major cities like Izumo or Matsue and drive to Oni no Shitaburui. Reaching the gorge from either city by car takes about one hour.


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