What is Sandankyo

Sandankyo Gorge is located in the upper reaches of the Shibaki River, which flows through Akiota-cho in the northwestern part of Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a historic gorge that was designated as a special place of scenic beauty in 1953.
The gorge is 16 km long and has many famous spots such as “Kurobuchi Pool,” which is surrounded by a 100-meter-high cliff, and “Sarutobi Rock,” whose name originates from the fact that monkeys used to jump between the cliffs, attracting visitors to the gorge. Sandankyo is also home to an abundant variety of plant species and novel views that can be enjoyed in new ways as the seasons change.


A Mysterious Place Where the Beauty of Earth Shines Through

Overlapping Thoughts and the Power of Nature

Sandankyo Gorge is a historic gorge that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017. Once an unexplored gorge, Sandankyo has been preserved and protected by the efforts of our ancestors, and the beautiful scenery has been wonderfully maintained. When you enter the gorge, you will feel as if you have entered another world, covered with numerous coniferous and evergreen trees, and the sound of the river will stimulate your senses. The beautiful scenery and rich ecosystem have even attracted attention from overseas as a first-class “nature museum”. In addition, Akiota-town has been certified as a “forest therapy base,” and offers tours that allow visitors to experience the scent of the forest and the sounds of nature with all five senses for a “healing effect”.

Discovery and Succession

In 1917, the photographer Kuma Nanpo was looking for a subject for his photographs when he set foot in Sandankyo Gorge. Fascinated by the beauty of the gorge, he wanted to protect and pass on the fantastic scenery to the next generation. He found Sandankyo’s landscape reminiscent of traditional “landscape painting” based on Chinese landscape motifs. With the help of local residents, including Saito Rosui, an elementary school teacher, he worked hard to preserve the natural and cultural values of Sandankyo. In 1953, Sandankyo was designated as a special scenic beauty, and in 1969 the West Chugoku Mountains area, including Sandankyo, was designated as a national park.

Magnificent Nature and the Ingenuity of Our Ancestors

Thanks to the passion of Kuma Nanpo, Saito Rosui and others, we can still enjoy the natural beauty of Sandankyo to this day. One of their goals was to preserve the beauty of Sandankyo forever, so they worked hard for the gorge to be officially designated as a place of scenic beauty. After the designation, they wanted more people to enjoy walking in Sandankyo, so they built a walkway. In order not to interfere with the natural environment as much as possible, the use of concrete was avoided as much as possible and stones from the gorge were used for masonry. In addition, the boardwalk was set higher than the river so that visitors can experience the beauty of the canyon with the sound of water behind them while looking at the vigorous mountain stream.

Origin of the Name

Kuma Nanpo wanted Sandankyo’s name to convey the beauty of the gorge. He was ultimately inspired by the following passage in the Matsu-no-Ochibashu (1764-1772), a collection of Japanese poetry; “The mountains have three peaks, the waters have three valleys.” This passage references similarities between the beautiful landscape of Sichuan, China and the Chugoku region of Japan. The passage highlights the presence of threes throughout the natural landscape; three mountains (Mt. Jippo, Mt. Garyu and Mt. Shinnyu), which encircle the convergence of three rivers (Yokokawa river, Yawata river, and Shibaki river), to form the headwaters of Sandankyo gorge. Eventually, “Sandankyo (三段峡)” was chosen by extracting one character each from the words “three peaks (三峨),” “three levels (三段),” and “three valleys (三峡).”

Origin Story

Sandankyo Gorge has developed beautifully and abundantly during its long history.

Sandankyo Gorge has been conveying the beauty of nature to people, from the distant past all the way through to the present. Using the latest computer graphics, we will introduce the history of the gorge, where the scenery continues to change and develop. This video will make you love Sandankyo even more.