Oct 242013

Good afternoon everyone from the Itoigawa Geopark! As late season typhoons continue to  draw close to Japan, we prepare for more unseasonably warm and rainy weather.

During a brief break in the rain, a friend of mine and I had the opportunity to visit Itoigawa’s mountains for some light hiking. We packed our bags and drove up to the Umidani Gorge Geosite.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe main visitor’s facility for Umidani Gorge Geopark is Sankyo Park, which features ample parking, camping facilities, and an observation deck. The park is the starting point for two trails, one which climbs up to the peak of Mt. Komagatake and another which winds down into the Umidani Gorge. It is the second trail which we decided to take.

2013-10-13 10.22.51Upon arriving at the trail head, the massive rock face of Mt. Senjogatake immediately commands our attention. At only about 1200m (about 3900 feet), Senjogatake is not a particularly tall mountain, but its shape and bands of exposed andesite give it a striking appearance.

The mountain itself is the remnants of a once submarine volcano. The diagonal bands were formed by the repeated flows of magma. They were exposed when the mountain was split by a combination of plate tectonics and erosion by the Umigawa River which flows through the gorge.

2013-10-13 10.46.26Walking down the trail, we caught this beautiful view of the appropriately named Nametaki, or Licking Falls, spilling down into the gorge below.

2013-10-13 11.18.13Continuing further down into the gorge, we drew ever closer to the Umigawa River below. Seeing such a small river, it is difficult to believe that it could have carved such a massive gorge.

2013-10-13 10.50.53As we came to the point where the trail crosses the river, we came to the city posted warning sign. The Umigawa River, like so many rivers in Japan, may be small, but its force should never be underestimated. After rains, snowmelts, and other situations which cause the river to swell, it is important to never attempt fording the Umigawa as its swift currents can easily sweep away even an experienced hiker. When the river is calmer, it is fairly trivial (albeit wet) to cross.

2013-10-13 10.56.45We finally arrived at the river itself. Filled with massive boulders and gushing rapids, the crossing can be a bit daunting for the inexperienced, even on relatively calm days. My friend and I had a fairly tight schedule, so we crossed only halfway to a comfortable-looking boulder to enjoy a late breakfast. Had we had more time, we could’ve continued the extra 30-40 minutes to the stunning Umidani Highlands deeper within the gorge.

2013-10-13 11.20.01On our way back up, I took a few pictures of the trail itself. For most of the trek, it is quite narrow. It is important to walk slowly and to take extra care when the ground is slippery. Make use of the safety ropes wherever they are installed.

2013-10-13 11.30.39Despite being mid-October, we were too early for Umidani’s usually stunning autumn foliage; only a few trace hints of yellow were visible in the trees. But the weather was beautiful and it was a near perfect day for hiking. I hope the next opportunity I get to hike will be more colorful.











Oct 182013


Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Geopark!

We have a chilly, but sunny day today in the Itoigawa Geopark. The typhoon which caused so much damage in other parts of the country has passed us. Our thoughts go out to those in affected areas.

Last weekend, the Itoigawa Coast Geosite hosted a Railroad Festival in front of Itoigawa Station. The weather was absolutely perfect and the turnout was fantastic.




A variety of events were planned for the festival, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Hokuriku Main Line which services Itoigawa. A relay event was held from Omi Station to Itoigawa Station, to commemorate the laying of the last section of track which completed the Hokuriku Line, film and television star (and Itoigawa native!) Masaru Nagai participated in the relay and gave autographs.

The local Geo☆Girls idol group gave a variety of performances, along with Hisui Taiko, one of Itoigawa’s local taiko drum groups.

tetu03And a miniature steam train offered rides for children.

Itoigawa’s gourmet delight, Black Yakisoba, was so popular at the event that the stand completely sold out. With such an excellent turnout, we are even more excited for the upcoming opening of the Hokuriku  Bullet Line.



Oct 092013

Good afternoon everyone! It’s another scorcher today at the Itoigawa Global Geopark!


That’s right! Thirty degrees in the shade! In October! What is the world coming to? The Oumi Branch of the Itoigawa City Office reported a high of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature should drop this evening as Typhoon #24 comes closer to the coast. The wind is quite strong here and the skies are beginning to darken, but we aren’t expecting to see a great deal of rain from the now greatly weakened typhoon.


In nicer news, while it is still a few weeks off, we are beginning to see a bit of autumn color in central Itoigawa. This weekend I will visit the mountains to see how the foliage is coming along there! Check back for more pictures next week!



Oct 072013

Good afternoon everyone! Here at the Itoigawa Global Geopark, it’s sweltering hot!
26 in the Shade!

At the small shaded plaza in front of Itoigawa Station, the thermometer read 26°C (79°F) this afternoon. Other parts of town are experiencing temperatures as high as 30°C (85°F)! It’s hard to believe such a warm day in October.

View from Geopark Office

While the warm weather is certainly enjoyable, it means a late autumn foliage season. The trees are not changing in time for the upcoming three day weekend, which may prove disappointing for visitors. Hopefully the leaves will begin changing soon!