Waterfalls And Salamanders

November 15, 2009

Nabari has plenty to be proud of…delicious grapes, delicious strawberries, relative closeness to Osaka…but the definitive must-see in the area would be the Akame 48 Waterfalls. With the name leaving nothing to the imagination, it’s the landmark featured heavily on Nabari brochures and other tourist-related media. A picture of one of the more famous waterfalls even appears on my business card. Surely, almost four months into my Japanese life (!) I’d have found a day to take the bus over to one of the prettiest hikes in Mie.

Welp, I’m lazy!

I finally found the proper motivation to get out to the falls this weekend…chiefly, someone organized an official outing. With other people doing the heavy lifting, coupled with the fact the leaves are at peak Autumn colors, I woke up extra early on a Sunday morning (8:30) and spent a day immersed in nature. But the first stop was the Japan Salamander Center.

Before checking out waterfalls, everyone must pass through what can best be described as a salamander-only zoo. The English “Introduction to Nabari” page lists the place high up, boasting “rare creatures” from all over the world. It’s cool, and they definitely have a wide variety of salamanders – really, learning so many different types of salamanders existed in the world ended up being the educational moment of the day – but not something I spent more than seven minutes in.

After getting my salamander fill, I hit the trail. Now. for a gross amount of photos of waterfalls.

The next waterfall is Akame 48 Waterfall’s standout, the one waterfall that graces most tourist info and my business card. It’s two waterfalls, right next to one another. It’s pretty cool in person.

And one other waterfall…and Professor Salamander.

The hike lasts several hours, and overall is extremely gorgeous and peaceful, but the ending stands out as one of the biggest let-downs imaginable. After spending a large chunk of the day walking down this path filled with natural wonder, you’d think the last thing would be breathtaking. Like a really huge waterfall or maybe trees filled with monkeys. None of those things. Instead, you reach some stairs which lead to…a puny snack bar, some bathrooms worthy of U.N. sanctions and a bus stop. Sort of a buzzkill, but the rest was cool enough. And hey, I saw a huge salamander, that’s gotta count for something.

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