Just 30 minutes or so outside of our fair city of Kawagoe rests a beautifully forested area near Chichibu, which I am slowly coming to adore. Mountains, rivers, and meadows dominate the landscape, and it was in this setting that my wife discovered a short hike to Gojo Falls. Easing me into an eventual hike up Mt. Fuji, this trek was decidedly much easier than anything Fuji has to offer.
First, the train station in Hidaka has many areas around it where you can find some light hiking to partake in, as well as some very beautiful shrines. The hike itself is up a paved road that can be traveled upon by car or motorbike, should you not feel up to the short 2.0 km walk. The elevation change is gradual and manageable, shaded nicely with thick forests of coniferous trees. You can also follow sign posts to help guide you along the way. They’re pretty straightforward, even if you don’t know enough kanji to read them.
We, unfortunately, walked right be the falls on our way up. We ended up on this muddy, rocky path deep into the mountain forests. Mosquitoes and monster moths were abound, and after trekking for what felt like hours, we decided to go back down, defeated. We had followed the flowing water with such dedication that it baffled us to come up without seeing any semblance of water falls. Downtrodden, we went back down.
Gojo Falls in Hidaka
On the way back down, however, two local women went down this small path marked only by a laminated piece of paper. We had passed this area before: there was small construction of a bridge, some copper-roofed shrines, and clear-cutting to make a path. We hadn’t thought much of it until we saw the sign and the women go down. Sure enough, at the bottom of the path, we found the falls!
To avoid what happened to us, heed this advice: There is a part on the paved road where you’ll see a nice big shoulder that can fit at least two cars right before a steep uphill climb. Look to your right and you’ll see the shrines, bridges, and other such decorations. You’ll want to make your way down there. If you’re observant, there is a small path marker that points you to the lower path that will send you across a few bridges directly to the falls.
This hike was wonderful, albeit a bit exhausting with all the extra legwork we ended up doing! It’s definitely taught me to be more observant, and has served me greatly in my Fuji training!