For our third day “in” Kyoto we headed to the nearby Mie prefecture to spend some time in unspoilt nature. Mie prefecture is not well known among the Japanese prefectures by international tourists which leaves a very quaint feeling here, we loved it!
The journey was a little tricky using local trains to a small station Akame Guchi. From here you need to catch a bus which only runs a few times a day, out in the mornings and then back in the afternoons, to the falls themselves. We took the bus with two other people along the 10 minutes journey to Akame no taki. When we got off the bus we found ourselves in a small area of closed up shops and peoples houses, not a soul in sight! Simply walk up the hill and you will find the giant salamander house, which is the entrance to the Akame 48 waterfalls hike!
Now the name is a little decieving as there are not, in fact, 48 waterfalls. Some say that the number 48 was traditionally used to describe when there a lot of something… In fact there are just around 25 waterfalls here, 5 of which are considered “big” waterfalls. The hike up to the top and back again is roughly 4km, there are some more tricky looking bits of the trail on rickety stairs, but it is a beautiful gently hike through an unspoil gorge. There are toilets at time during the walk too. This area is often popular during autumn as it has great autumn foliage, so a day in April was very empty and we only saw 10 other people in the 4 hours we were there.
It was a really great experience, the surroundings were beautiful, this was the real rural Japan that I love so much.
As the bus back was around 2pm we had quite a bit of day left and decided to head into Nara, the capital or Nara prefecture, on our way back to Kyoto. Nara was once the capital city of all of Japan and holds some ancient temples and shrines. The thing that Nara is most famous for are the deer which bow in order to get a treat! I’m not that bothered by deer (allergic too) and so we were here to see Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world. Photos cannot convey the size of this building, it isn’t until you approach it that you realise how enormous it is, I’d really recommend visiting. As we got there so late we literally walked through the park to Todai-ji, had a look around and then headed back to the station for some yakiniku for dinner.