Bridge of Dreams
Take a journey on a steam locomotive deep into the forest covered mountains of Kawane, Shizuoka – discover turquoise waters nestled amongst a canvas of green in one of the most epic valleys in Japan.
In the mountains of Shizuoka is an area known as Sumatakyo Onsen, a small hot spring town populated by a traditional community who have lived the same way for centuries.
Sumatakyo is still somewhat undiscovered at the moment, especially by many international visitors rushing down to Kyoto, but slowly more and more people are visiting, but most are not seeing all that the area has to offer.
Many people already visit Kawane for its most popular attraction referred to as the ‘Bridge of Dreams’ or Yume-no-Tsuribashi.
The bridge is only a short bus ride from Senzu station, which winds its way through a beautiful gorge to the small hot spring town.
Once the bus arrives, the bridge is a leisurely 20-30 minute walk and if it’s not the weekend there shouldn’t be many other visitors waiting to cross the bridge.
Although the bridge is the star attraction for the area due to its ‘instagram-ability’ for the more adventurous there are plenty of other hiking options in the area.
When you’ve expended your energy and are looking to refuel, there is a small cluster of shops and eateries right at the entrance of the hike to the bridge. Sumptuous soba awaits. Right opposite is a classic local Japanese onsen, where you can refresh and recover tired muscles before moving on and exploring the rest of Kawane.
Because the number of people that can cross the bridge at any one time is limited to 10, during weekends and peak season such as early spring and during the fall when the colours of the trees are at their most spectacular.
If there is a queue to cross the bridge when you arrive and you are feeling energetic there are plenty of trails to explore around the bridge area and many amazing views to enjoy if so you can explore the multiple paths up and around the bridge and surrounding valley.
The Green shower road goes along the crystal blue stream of the Sumata River, while the Soto-Moriyama hiking course goes to the Mt. Soto-Moriyama peak and the Sumatakyo promenade course passes through the bridge of dreams itself.
Each route links up and can be hiked in 1 to 2 hours, so you can actually try all of them in a morning or an afternoon. Route details can be found here.
ACCESS TO SUMATAKYO
1. From Tokyo or Osaka, take the Tokaido shinkansen (bullet train) to Shizuoka station.
2. From Shizuoka station take the local train to Shin-Kanaya station and then ride the Steam Locomotive (runs once a day) or the local train for just under an hour as it winds its way through the mountains, following the river to Senzu station.
3. From Senzu station it is a 40 minute bus ride up to Sumatakyo Village
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