The 48 waterfalls of Akame, Ninja training experience - Let’s take a trip back in time

The 48 waterfalls of Akame, Ninja training experience - Let’s take a trip back in time

I was so excited about going on the hike and participating in the different ninja challenges. I felt like a kid in a candy store, and was unable to sleep the night before due to all of the excitement.

Written by Dan Lewis

-Author's Introduction
Originally from the state of Alaska in the USA, Dan Lewis is a long-term resident of Japan. He has lived in Mie, Ishikawa and Gifu Prefecctures, and currently resides in Nagoya, the capitol city of Aichi Prefecture. Dan is an avid fan of technology and nature - two areas that Japan is blessed with! He loves taking "the road less traveled" and discovering new places.

The hike at Akame 48 Falls started out in a small museum. It was quite interesting to see the giant salamanders! They really are quite impressive, like something out of a scene from the Studio Ghibli animated feature film Princess Mononoke.

After leaving the salamander aquariums, it was a simple start by the calm river. My guide was very informative, giving a lot of information about the history of the area’s natural formation, as well as the religious background.

We soon entered an area that used to be reserved just for religious leaders who would go there for training.

The climb to the top of the first waterfall(Fudo waterfall) wasn't particularly difficult but I gained a sense of what's to come. The path itself is rather easy to walk as it was well made and had few unstable areas. 

There were people pausing their hikes, preparing to take pictures along the riverside. There really are so many opportunities for good photos.

As the valley walls are very steep, there are only a few places where the sun breaks through. Now, in February, direct sunlight is a welcome respite from the cool 5° air temperature. Apparently, it gets to be about 20°C during May, and the valley is flush with green. Although that sounds like the ideal time to visit, the colder season is also quite beautiful.

 I am now ten minutes into the hike, but my body hasn't quite warmed up yet, I recommend wearing at least thin gloves and a knit hat.

Moss engulfs just about everything within view. The water rushes over the flat rocks making a claw-shaped cascade, grasping at the rocks. It's almost alive. There are quiet areas between the clusters of waterfalls. The barely audible murmur of the stream is in sharp contrast to the roar of the falls. It is easy to forget that there were several waterfalls just a few minutes ago.

One stretch of the river is covered with huge boulders with multiple waterfalls flowing between them. It's as if there were some type of giant boulder gathering just in this one place. Playing on the large rocks and boulders in the middle of the river is allowed, even swimming in the pools is OK, the most Japanese won't do it.These waters are considered sacred.  

Just remember that the water is very cold, and you'll want to towel when you get finished some of the steps are quite steep and almost none of them are uniform, you'll need to keep an eye on your where you place your foot.

And be sure to secure your belongings before playing around the river. I lost a bottle of water as I hopped from one large boulder to another. A subsequent search proved fruitless and I had to move on without it. Perhaps it was taken by a kappa, a mythical mischievous water goblin from Japanese folklore.

The second large waterfall(Senju waterfall) with wide, deep pool is a good spot for taking a break and enjoying a drink - if you haven't drop yours in the river. There is a covered seating area with a wonderful view of the falls. My guide explained about an event that is held here. People enter the cold water to purify their themselves. At the same time, there is also a fire-walking event. If you are the brave sort, why not give it a try?

The third large waterfall(Nunobiki waterfall) and pool looks like the perfect place to swim. The pool is at least 10 meters deep, and was formed thousands of years ago as the water originally fell from a much higher point. One gains a sense of the time it took to form all of this. The rock formations in the walls are in mostly horizontal patterns, formed from the different flows of lava.

It's easy to forget the present world as your feelings are washed back in time by the endless flow of the river. It's not so noticeable at the bottom of the valley, but as you climb you will notice a constant breeze pushing its way between the valley walls, almost as if to erase your memories with it’s refreshing flavor.

We turned back after the third large waterfall and made the round trip hike in about 50 minutes.

Afterward the hike, we headed to the ninja experience area which was basically next to the park entrance. In the past many Iga ninjas were subject to severe and intense training here. Considered the home of the ninja, it is also possible to participate in a rare ninja training experience here on the grounds. Here again, it was easy to forget what age I was in as I experienced several training methods and techniques that the ninja did (or still do??).

Escape from enemy intruders! Find an enemy in the dark and stab him with a sword! Scale the castle walls! Cross the moat on a tightrope! Try using throwing stars! Shoot a blowgun! That last activity was my personal favorite. Done right, you can hardly see the dart fly through the air. We finished up with an amazing VR Ninja battle. Ninjas were running through the dark forest tossing throwing stars at me! I did all right in the practice stage, but I was no match for the ninjas after that.

Hiking and the various ninja experiences were two things that I’ve always been interested in doing and I definitely recommend trying both experiences.

Guide Information
-Basic English guidance is available
-Guides are not free of charge

For more information please click on this link

Tourist attractions covered by this article