Sandankyo Gorge © Kuruman
The erosion of the limestone plateau in the northwest of the Hiroshima prefecture has left a beautiful deep gorge, stretching for about 11 miles (18km), full of primeval forest, waterfalls, monkeys, unusual rock formations and the Onbashi Bridge, the largest natural bridge in Japan. Sandankyo Gorge is one of only five ravines in Japan that have been designated as National Scenic Beauty Spots and the country takes great pride in the beautiful area, which is a great favourite with hikers. It is closed in winter because snow makes the ravine impassable and dangerous but visitors are welcome between the end of April and November. As with most scenic spots in Japan the ravine is at its most lovely in spring and autumn but is certainly still a worthwhile excursion in summer. One of the most popular walking trails is a round-trip that begins at the Sandankyo front gate with the lovely Kurofuchi pool as the turning point. The hike only takes about an hour each way and is not overly strenuous. The Kurofuchi pool is known for its emerald green water and it is possible to take a short ferry ride across it to a restaurant on the far bank. On this route you will also see the stunning Shimai waterfall and Ishidoi rapids.