Fascinating Flora, Fauna, and Rocky Outcrops in Deep Shikoku
When it comes to experiencing the wonders of nature, Shikoku Karst is a destination that should not be missed. This stunning geological formation is the result of erosion on limestone hillsides, creating a landscape of sweeping grasslands, white limestone mounds, and conical sinkholes. Located in the Shikoku region of japan, this karst extends along rolling mountains and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. In this article, we will explore the various attractions and activities that make Shikoku Karst a truly unique and captivating destination.
1. The Mossy Trails and Ancient Trees of Keyakidaira
One of the highlights of visiting Shikoku Karst is exploring the mossy trails and ancient trees of Keyakidaira. These trails offer a serene and peaceful atmosphere, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike. As you walk through the dense forest, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees and vibrant green moss, creating a truly enchanting experience. This is a great opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the region.
2. Other-Worldly Stargazing Opportunities
Shikoku Karst is known for its clear and unpolluted skies, making it an ideal location for stargazing. On a clear night, the sky is filled with countless stars, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or simply enjoy the tranquility of the night sky, Shikoku Karst offers a unique opportunity to witness the wonders of the universe.
3. Scenic Hikes and Stunning Seasonal Blooms
For those who love outdoor activities, Shikoku Karst offers a variety of scenic hikes and stunning seasonal blooms. During spring, the grasses turn a vibrant shade of green, creating a picturesque backdrop for your hike. In summer, you can admire the beauty of lilies and other wildflowers that dot the landscape. Fall brings a riot of colors as the leaves of the trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. And in winter, a dusting of snow covers the hillsides, creating a magical winter wonderland.
How to Get There
Reaching Shikoku Karst can be a bit challenging as it is not easily accessible by public transport. However, for intrepid travelers, the journey is well worth it. The most convenient way to reach Shikoku Karst is by car from Kochi or Matsuyama. The scenic drive takes around two hours and offers beautiful views along the way. Alternatively, you can take a combination of taxi, bus, and train from Kochi Station. Depart from Kochi Station and arrive at Susaki Station, where you can catch a bus towards Yusuhara. From there, change again at Shinta and take a taxi to Hoshifuru Village Tengu, located in the middle of the Karst. It’s important to note that during the winter months, some areas of the Karst may be inaccessible due to snow.
– The area is split into three parts: the Tengu Highland, Keyakidaira, and Mezurudaira.
– The karst has an elevation of 1,400 meters.
– The area straddles both Ehime and Kochi prefectures.
A Place for All Seasons
One of the remarkable things about Shikoku Karst is its seamless transition through the seasons. Each season offers its own unique beauty and charm, making it a destination that can be enjoyed year-round. In spring, the grasses turn a vibrant hue of green, signaling the arrival of new life. It’s a perfect time to explore the trails and witness the blooming of various wildflowers. Summer brings the beauty of lilies and other vibrant flowers, creating a colorful tapestry across the landscape. Fall is a time of breathtaking beauty as the leaves of the trees transform into a riot of colors. The hillsides are covered in shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a picturesque scene. And in winter, a blanket of snow covers the Karst, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Whether you visit in spring, summer, fall, or winter, Shikoku Karst promises a memorable and captivating experience.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of Shikoku Karst is through forest bathing. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku in Japanese, is the practice of immersing oneself in the forest atmosphere to improve overall well-being. The Tengu Highlands in Shikoku Karst offer an excellent opportunity for forest bathing. As you walk through the forest, you’ll be surrounded by the fresh scent of the trees and the soothing sounds of nature. Look out for the Japanese cypress wood-chip paths that meander through the forest, offering a comfortable and serene walking experience. The forest is filled with stunning white birch and red pine trees, creating a tranquil and peaceful environment. The walk takes approximately three hours and rewards you with fantastic views of the Shikoku mountains and, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean.
The Great Outdoors
During the summer months, camping in Shikoku Karst is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of the region. The Mezurudaira area offers plenty of campsites where you can pitch your tent and enjoy the beauty of nature. The campsites are surrounded by pastoral scenes of cows lazily grazing, creating a picturesque and peaceful setting. One of the advantages of camping in Shikoku Karst is the lack of light pollution. As the region is far from any major cities, the night sky is incredibly clear, making it the perfect spot for stargazing. Spend your evenings sitting around a campfire, gazing at the stars, and enjoying the peace and serenity of the Karst.
A Riot of Color
The nearby Ogawamine area is another must-visit destination for nature lovers. This area is home to several notable mountains, including Kasatori, Ogawamine, Mikawamine, and Ubahodo. These mountains are known for their stunning displays of rhododendron flowers. In spring, the mountains are carpeted with bold magenta rhododendron flowers, creating a breathtaking sight. On a clear day, you can also enjoy panoramic views of Mt. Ishizuchi and the Sata Peninsula, adding to the beauty of the landscape. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, the Ogawamine area is a must-visit destination in Shikoku Karst.
In the heart of the Karst’s Highlands sits the Hoshifuru Village Tengu and Mezuroso Cottages. These accommodations offer a unique opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of the region. At Hoshifuru Village Tengu, you can taste the flavors of the mountains, including dishes made with pheasant and wild boar, served alongside the best of seasonal produce. The village also boasts a large bath with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Ishizuchi mountains, providing the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of hiking. At Mezuroso, you can try amago, a red-spotted masu trout from the nearby rivers of Kumakogen, cooked on an outdoor charcoal fire. Both accommodations also offer campsites, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the natural beauty of the Karst.
Starlight, Waterfalls, and Fairytale Villages
In addition to its natural wonders, Shikoku Karst is also home to several other attractions that are worth exploring. One such attraction is the Kumakogen Furusato Ryoko Mura, a thatched farmhouse village that feels like it has been lifted from a fairytale. This charming village offers a glimpse into traditional Japanese rural life and is a great place to learn about the local culture and history. The village also boasts a planetarium and observatory, where you can enjoy unimpeded views of the twinkling night skies. Nearby, you’ll find the Omogo Gorge and Goraiko and Gongen waterfalls, which are popular among visitors for their clear rippling waters and dense surrounding forests. These attractions offer a perfect combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage, adding to the allure of Shikoku Karst.
Shikoku Karst is a destination that offers a truly unique and captivating experience. From its stunning geological formations to its breathtaking views, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature lover, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Shikoku Karst has it all. Explore the mossy trails and ancient trees of Keyakidaira, gaze at the stars in the clear night sky, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the seasonal blooms. Experience the warm hospitality of Hoshifuru Village Tengu and Mezuroso Cottages, and marvel at the fairytale-like village of Kumakogen Furusato Ryoko Mura. Shikoku Karst is a destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of nature. So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and embark on a journey to Shikoku Karst, where fascinating flora, fauna, and rocky outcrops await.
Address And Maps Location:
Nishidani, Kuma Kogen, Kamiukena-gun, Ehime-ken