Kiyotsu Gorge which is the three-great gorge in Japan, despite being unexplored region, why men and women of all ages can visit there easily?
Kiyotsu Gorge is a great gorge of about 13 km in length, formed by Kiyotsu River which is a tributary of Shinano River in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture. It is located in Joshinetsu-kogen National Park, and together with Kurobe Gorge (Toyama prefecture) and Osugi Canyon (Mie prefecture), Kiyotsu Gorge, it is one of the three great gorges in Japan. It is also designated as a scenic spot and a natural monument of Japan. Kiyotsu Gorge has the magnificent beauty of gorge, huge quay walls beside Kiyotsu River formed V-shaped gorge, and its rock surface of columnar joints are beautifully cracked. Also, it is also scientifically invaluable.
At the entrance to the Kiyotsu Gorge, there is spa town called Kiyotsu Gorge Onsen Resort. It quietly stands in the mountain and you can feel atmosphere of a land of mystery in the air. You can enjoy the seasonal view such as greenery in spring, clear stream in summer, red leaves in autumn and snow in winter, but especially the season for red leaves in autumn is very popular.
“Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel” which total length of 750m (1500m for a round-trip) for walker is developed in the gorge. The entrance of the tunnel shaped like “columnar joints” which is the characteristic of Kiyotsu Gorge. The inside of the tunnel is barrier-free and you can use a wheel chair and a stroller.
You can watch the beauty of gorge from 3 observation spots on the way and a panorama station at the end of the tunnel. In the past, enjoying view from a promenade along Kiyotsu River from Kiyotsu Gorge Onsen to Yagisawa was common, however, it was closed by a rockslide accident. In 1996, the construction of Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was completed in a total construction cost of 2 billion yen. The promenade along the river is still closed, but a mountain trail is arranged for experts of climbing mountains.
The inside of the rocky mountain is dug along Kiyotsu River into the tunnel, and some caves (observation spot) are set and you can enjoy beauty of Kiyotsu Gorge from those observation spots.
All the spots in the tunnel, incidentally, are works of “Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale,” held once every three years in Tokamachi City and Tsunan Town, Niigata Prefecture, but the First Observatory still retains the appearance of the tunnel as it was when it was completed in 1996.
At the Second Observatory, the interior walls of the tunnel are painted in black and white stripes. There are also dome-shaped toilets covered with stainless- steel exterior walls that reflects the black and white interior walls, providing the feeling of being in another world. There are two private toilets, and visitors enter by taking off their shoes and putting on slippers. The inside of the toilet is a magic mirror so that visitors can enjoy the view of the valley from inside the toilet. As these toilets also serve as a work of art for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, visitors often have to wait their turn for commemorative photos, etc. Before entering the tunnel, it is better to use the public toilets in the parking lot.
The interior walls of the Third Observatory have many convex mirrors, which are illuminated by orange backlighting. The convex mirrors reflect the scenery of Tunnel of Light, creating a magical sensation when gazing into them.
At the panorama station in the end of the tunnel, the floor is covered with thin water and you can see the reflection of Kiyotsu Gorge in the water. Also, all ceilings and side walls are covered with stainless plates, the flow of the river reflect on it and it seems like you are just straying into a mysterious space.
By the way, the water covers floor in the panorama station is the water from gorge, and you can take off your shoes and go into the water.
The biggest highlight of Kiyotsu Gorge is “Great beauty of V-shaped sheer quay walls beside Kiyotsu River” viewing from the panorama station. The rock surface which is shaped like hexagonal pencils bundled, is called “columnar joint” that made by magma. When magma got cold, it turned into hard, shrunk and become columnar joint. Those rocky cliffs and emerald green color cold stream of Kiyotsu River give great impression to visitors.
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