In the Ichinoseki area of Iwate Prefecture are two river gorges, which can be reached by bus or car. Gembikei Gorge is west of Ichinoseki and is filled with numerous waterfalls; you can walk through it.
There are also hot springs here and several inns. The Geibikei Gorge is east of Ichinoseki and is much larger. In fact, you can take a float trip through the gorge in small boats. Geibikei (as opposed to Gembikei) is the more impressive of the two, a narrow defile best viewed by boat, which lies some 20km east of Hiraizumi.
Hiraizumi/Ichinoseki is worth a longer stay for doing side trips to beautiful Gembikei and Geibikei Gorges. To the southwest of Hiraizumi is the wonderful Gembikei gorge (bus from Hiraizumi, 40 minutes), through which the Iwai River flows.
The Geibikei gorge formed by the Satetstu River, northeast of Ichinoseki (by train 35 mins) is also worth visiting.
Geibikei Gorge (not to be confused with the nearby Gembikei Gorge!) offers a wonderful contrast between the soaring cliffs on either side and the calm, clear water that passes between them. About 20 kilometers east of Hiraizumi, the gorge is a big tourist draw, but don’t let that keep you away.
Once you’ve clambered into the wooden boat along with the other visitors, the boatman will heave on his wooden pole and you’re off. For the next couple of hours, you’ll pass one gorgeous view after another, all the more stunning if you come in autumn. The clear water teems in places with fish, including colorful carp.
In Geibikei Gorge, you can take a flat-bottomed boat ride with a singing boatman. The round-trip boat ride is 1from .5 hr., available 8.30 to 16.30, and it costs 1500 yen (approx) and Genbikei is only accessible by bus and has this “Flying Dango” thing.
You get to feed carp and also try throwing pebbles which symbolize 5 good fortunes into an opening in the cliffside. In Gembikei Gorges is a spectacular view of the river valley from the bridge with the interesting Kakko Dango where you get dessert with tea that comes across the gorge in a hanging basket on a rope. You just pay 400 yen and sometimes you don’t even know what you will get, but the process is fun just seeing the basket flying over the gorge.
Geibikei Gorge is 30 min JR from Ichinoseki on Ofunato Line. The pier is 5 min walk from JR Geibikei station. If you are driving from Hiraizumi, get a map from the Hiraizumi tourist info. center first. The centre is just on the right outside Hiraizumi JR station, and basic English is spoken. For the car’s GPS, you can enter Geibikei tourist info. centre phone no. 0191-47-2341 for Geibikei Gorge, postal code is 029-0302.
Ichinoseki is a good base for both Geibikei and Gembikei. There is a 20 min Iwate-ken Kotsu bus from Ichinoseki to Gembikei Gorge. Unless you’ve got your own transport, however, the easiest way to get there is by train from Ichinoseki Station. It’s an attractive ride on the JR Ofunato line to Geibikei Station (30min), marred at the end by a huge cement works. From the station, turn right and walk along the lane for five minutes, then follow the road under the tracks to find the boat dock.
The Geibikei boat trip (hourly 8.30/9am-3/4.30pm; 90min; ¥1500) is a lot of fun.
Find details about:
Gembikei (Gembi) Gorge Area [Also Japanese locally called Genbikei (厳美渓/ Genbi Gorge)] and Geibi (Geibikei/ 猊鼻渓) Gorge Area
Location of Geibi (Geibikei) Gorge Machi, Nagasaka, Higashiyama town(Higashiyama-cho), Ichinoseki-shi (Ichinoseki City), Iwate Prefecture (Iwate-ken) 029-0302, Japan [Geo Coordinate: 38.989966099999997, 141.2508727]
Note: On September 20, 2005 Higashiyama, along with the towns of Daitō and Senmaya, the villages of Kawasaki and Murone, all from Higashiiwai District, and the town of Hanaizumi, from Nishiiwai District, was merged into the expanded city of Ichinoseki.
Location of Genbikei (Genbi) Gorge/ Gembikei (Gembi) Gorge Minamitakinoue, Genbi-cho (Genbi village), Ichinoseki-shi (Ichinoseki City), Higashiiwai district (Higashiiwai-gun), Iwate Prefecture (Iwate-ken) 021-0101, Japan [Geo Coordinate: 38.944286599999998, 141.0452186]
Note: January 1, 1955 – The city of Ichinoseki (1st generation) merged with the villages of Genbi, Hagisho, Maikawa, and Yasakae to form the new city of Ichinoseki (2nd generation).