Hike & Workcation in East Tokushima
We have been introducing model itineraries of multi-day “hike and workcations” in the three towns of the east Tokushima area.
In this article, we’ll show some of the activities you can do in Kamikatsu to refresh yourself. Mountain villages, lakeside forests, local delicacies,soothing emerald-blue rivers and waterfalls await you!
Before we get started, check out the first “hike and worcation in Kamikatsu” article, featuring staying at a Tsuki-no-yado and nice places for working in the area.
Hike & Workcation in East Tokushima - Kamikatsu #1
Sweat it out by running through the green tunnel around Lake Bishu
Since we are regular runners at home, of course we brought our running shoes to the workcation in Kamikatsu to enjoy the clear mountain air.
The forest road passing behind our bungalow used to be the main road before the new wide road was built. A green tunnel over the forest road goes downstream along the Katsuura River to the Masaki Dam.
Today, almost carless and quiet all day, and mostly flat, it is a perfect course for runners.
After running through the woods, around lake Bishu, and crossing on the dam to the other side, we continued our way through small villages and narrow paths to avoid traffic.
Making a big circle around the center of Kamikatsu, we discovered a lot of scenery that we would not have seen from the windshield of our car.
A big advantage of workcationing at Tsuki-no-yado is, as soon as we got back to our bungalow, we can go straight to the big hot springs to washand get relaxed.
Lunch at a retro-style café with good old days vibes
We came to “Kissa Ikumi” for lunch. (Kissa means café in Japanese.)
The over 70-year-old store building turned café was located in a tiny neighborhood right by the Katsuuragawa river, further into the headwater valleys beyond the trailhead of “Mt. Tsurugi super forest road,” the longest forest road in Japan.
Entering the café, the first thing that caught our eyes were posters and LP records of international stars and Japanese idol singers back in the 80’s, and a large set of old audio speakers. There were also old store signs and grandfather clocks.
Everything there has late Showa era (1926-89) vibes.
The owner of this café offers a carefully selected simple menu: a couple of different types of ramen and curry, coffee and chai latte. Uniquely, the ramen soup base and chai latte are made with a Kamikatsu’s specialty, Awa Bancha (lactic fermented tea).
The owner created his own special original recipe to make the best curry dishes such as the most popular curry with stewed Tokushima local chicken curry and another curry with locally-grown vegetables each season.
As a secret menu, with advance reservation, he offers a special set of meats grilled on a stone slab heated in an old large Irori (sunken hearth) in the back of the café.
Stunningly clear emerald blue river and Hyakkendaki Falls
At the foot of Kissa Ikumi, the stunningly clear emerald blue Katsuura River flows.
The riverbanks are easily accessible via a narrow path going down from the side of the road. Beyond a suspension bridge over the river, we found a mountain path that continued deep into the forest.
At the beginning of 2022, we heard the wonderful news that a small campground opened on a corner of this beautiful riverbank.
At the Ikumi Campground, rental tents and fire-pits are available if you don’t own them. Campers can bring their own food to cook outside or if you would like, Kissa Ikumi can serve their special curries in a mess tin to take out.
Heading upstream from Kissa Ikumi on a narrow road along the Katsuura River for about 2.5 kilometers, we arrived our next destination, the Hyakumadaki Falls, one of the popular landmarks of Kamikatsu.
A 10-minute walk from a large parking space by the road on the well-maintained approach trail, suddenly a long and wide white curtain of water in the middle of the dimly-lit forest came into sight.
From the front viewing deck, the 40-meter high roaring waterwall looked as if a massive wall of water stood up there to block us.
To enjoy the view of the entire waterfall, go down to the lower viewing deck located a little further away from the falls.
Two uniquely beautiful waterfalls near the local beer brewery
We drove to the eastern area of Kamikatsu bordering Katsuura town. Another famous landmark here is RISE & WIN Brewing Co. BBQ & General Store, well-known for their craft beers in this area.
Many people visit Kamikatsu for this popular brewery.
In addition to their great food and beers, this brewery with a small store and a bar firmly practices the "zero-waste" spirit of Kamikatsu and tries to share it with visitors in a fun way.
"Our brewing facility produces craft beer to provide a chance to enjoy learning about the zero-waste program.
Peel from the "Yuko" citrus fruit, which would otherwise be discarded after squeezing the juice, is now reused to spice our beer.
The spent grain produced in the process of brewing our craft beer is reused for sweets and granola.
We are brewing tasty and unique craft beer in a real American way with Mr. Ryan Jones, our brewing director." (From "RISE & WIN Brewing Co. BBQ & General Store" website)
Nearby RISE & WIN, there is the only traffic light in Kamikatsu. Turning north at the traffic light, we headed to the Onbuchi falls and Kanjōdaki Falls.
These two falls are featured in "HIKE! TOKUHIMA," the best collection of mountain trails in the eastern Tokushima area.
The Kanjōdaki Falls look like delicate chiffon curtains swaying in the wind withmist falling 70-meters from the top of the gigantic cliff.
The contrast between the steep cliffs and the delicate mist is very special. The mist fell gently onto moss- and grass-covered rocky slopes underneath, with no waterfall basin.
We went up to the sacred cave where legend says that Kukai, the founding monk of Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism in the early 9th century, practiced asceticism.
We enjoyed "doing nothing" at the high cave while looking at the mist veils flowing in the wind in front of us.
Downstream from Kanjōdaki Falls, Onbuchi Falls were hidden in the woods and not directly visible from the road.
The entrance is marked by a huge wooden artwork, named "Fuchigami-no-tō (the tower of the waterfall god)," standing high at a hairpin curve.
A short path through a tiny citrus orchard led us towards the thundering sound of Onbuchi falls (the Male waterfall).
Completely different in shape from Kanjōdaki Falls, Onbuchi falls has the atmosphere of waterfalls on an exotic tropical island.
The falls cascade into a beautiful blue-green pool, and the mountain river flows downstream between rocks covered with green moss leading to the smaller Menbuchi falls (the Female waterfall.)
Around the tranquil Onbuchi falls are a number of rocks that are perfect for sitting back and relaxing for a while.
● Kissa Ikumi / Ikumi Campground
12 Taniguchi, Ikumi, Kamikatsu, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima
https://kamikatsu-camp.com/ （Camping field）
● RISE & WIN Brewing Co. BBQ & General Store
237-2 Hirama, Masaki, Kamikatsu, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima Tel: 0885-45-0688
● Download “HIKE! TOKUSHIMA” booklet