IWAKUNI, Japan - The average unaccompanied Marine spends approximately 63,899,200 seconds in Japan during a two-year tour at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.
Many of these seconds waste away while Marines complain about being stuck in Japan or sitting around their barracks, oblivious to the adventures awaiting them.
One of these adventures could be a trip to the Sandankyo Gorge, less than a 90-minute drive from MCAS Iwakuni.
The gorge is also accessible by bus and is about one hour from the Hiroshima bus station.
Sandankyo remained unknown to the public until approximately 1910 when Nanpo Kuma, a photographer from Hiroshima, discovered its beauty and value. Kuma’s efforts were complete when the area received designation as a national place of scenic beauty in 1925 and as a national special place of scenic beauty in 1953.
The Sandankyo Gorge consists of the Shibaki River, a tributary to the Ota River. The Shibaki flows through fault valleys to form a large number of falls and rapids extending 10 miles.
One of the highlights of Sandankyo is Sandantaki Falls, or Three-Step Falls. Some of its visitors call this area the most beautiful spot in the Sandan Valley.
Sandantaki Falls is just one of the many falls to visit while negotiating the river-lined trails.
Nidantaki Falls, an area accessible only via riverboat, waits behind a six-foot wide passage through sheer cliffs. The falls are one of the must-see treasures and to get to their location, one must navigate a four-mile trek. In addition to the Sandankyo Gorge, there are other sights, such as the
Sandankyo-onsen Hot Spring and Mt. Osorakan-zan, where a forest creates a canopy above the mountaintop.
For those interested in visiting Sandankyo, Marine Corps Community Services is slated to host a trip Nov. 3, 2012.
The trail requires moderate skill and is appropriate for most fitness levels. An adult must accompany attendees less than 18 years old. Bus transportation leaves from Ironworks Gym. A $15 transportation fee is due at the Outdoor Recreation Office when signing up. Registration opens this week. For more information, call 253-3822.