Sept 18-22: Akita Sawanobori (桃洞沢・赤水沢の周回), Japan's Largest Onsen, Top-100 Waterfall


Sept 18-22: Akita Sawanobori (桃洞沢・赤水沢の周回), Japan's Largest Onsen, Top-100 Waterfall

Post by Adam »

Members: (6-person limit)
1) Adam (1 dinner - BBQ)
2) Karthik (1 dinner - steamed rice, chicken curry)
3) Asuka (1 breakfast - bagel, cream cheese, & bacon)
4) Nozomi (1 breakfast - granola & sausage)
5) Tammy (1 dinner- Pasta & salad)
6) AB (1 breakfast)


This 4-day weekend allows us enough time to head deep into Japan's countryside and explore its rich nature and heritage. Our destination for this trip will be the Northeast of Akita, home of Matagi, the ancient bear hunters of Japan. The highlight of this trip will be a 1-day, 10 km above-beginner level sawanobori. Before or after the sawanobori (weather sensitive) we will visit some (impossible to do all...) of the points of interest in the area such as Tamagawa Onsen, Top-100 Yasu-no-Taki Falls, the Matagi Museum, or even a Kuma (bear) Park by van. We will establish a base camp at Moriyoshi Camping Ground for 3 nights. It's a basic auto campground that will suit us nicely. We'll head back to Tokyo after a big breakfast or big onsen, or both. Hopefully back in Tokyo around 7pm.


Friday, Sept 18 *light rain, low: 20C

20:30 meet at Ikebukuro Station, Exit 1B, entrance of Kojitsu Sansou outdoor gear store
22:00 free camp in park, Tochigi
hobo pies

Saturday, Sept 19 *sunny, high: 23C low: 14C

5:00 fruit, bread, yogurt, coffee, pack up
6:00 drive
12:00 lunch in Yuzawa
13:00 supermarket
17:00 arrive at Yoseinomori campground
Dinner by Tammy

Sunday, Sept 20 *light rain in morn clearing in afternoon, high: 17C low: 13C

breakfast by Nozomi
pack lunch
dinner by Karthik

Monday, Sept 21 *sunny in morn, chance of shower afternoon, high 20C, low 12C

breakfast by AB
Tamagawa onsen
Lake Tazawa
local lunch
Matagi museum, Kuma Park, Yasunotaki
dinner by Adam

Tuesday, Sept 22 *sunny, high 20C

bagels, cream cheese, & bacon
visit pools
lunch on road
19:00 arrive in Tokyo (9 hours driving)

Travel Details, Meeting Time & Place (旅行の詳細, 集合時間と場所):

Time - 20:30 Friday the 18th of September

Location - Ikebukuro Station, Exit 1B, next to Kojitsu Sanso outdoor gear store.


TBD. approximately ¥20,000 for transportation, accommodation, and food

Event Grade (イベント等級) for sawanobori

Fitness Grade 3 - Moderate
5 hours guide book time, 8 hours based on other trip reports, 10km horizontal, 250m vertical

Trailhead location: <〒018-4511 秋田県北秋田市森吉>

Technical 5 VERY DIFFICULT - Intermediate (中級)
Involves 3-5 rappels! Climbing will be using steps carved in rock and fixed ropes.

Sign Up Conditions, Contact Details:

Reply this post and confirm you have gear.

Things to Bring (持参もの):
  • sawanobori shoes, felt or rubber soles (I prefer rubber)
  • harness
  • 1 locking carabiner
  • ATC or other rappelling device
  • helmet
  • comfortable hiking shoes for day-trips and camp bring 1 pair only
  • cup/mug, bowl, spoon, water bottle
  • a basic sleeping bag & camping mat
  • 1 day pack and 1 duffel bag no large backpacks with frame, they will not fit in the van!
  • Bug spray, LED headlight
  • fleece or jumper
  • long underwear for sleeping
  • Swimwear
  • onsen towel
  • light rain coat and rain pants
  • I have 2 JUMBO tents we can use for this trip. We'll separate 3 and 3. Leave your tent at home.
  • camping char (optional)
  • your meal for the group (you can store it in the cooler) We will make one stop at a supermarket on Saturday

Shared Equipment: I am bring all of these items

2 JUMBO tents (campground has shelter if it rains)
Dutch oven w/ tools
portable stove
BBQ grill w/ tools (we'll rent from CG)
large cooler (you can store food and drinks inside)
mess kit (pots & pans, ect.)
large knife
cutting board
salt & pepper
hot sauce
foil & plastic wrap
camp light (you may also bring one...)
mosquito coils (I have leftovers from summer...)



Up Todozawa, over pass and down Akamizusawa

Above beginners or even strong beginners can do this trip. We will climb waterfalls using carved steps (in rocks) and fixed ropes. I will also bring my own rope. You will want a pair of sawanobori shoes, harness, ATC or figure 8, and a locking carabiner. We'll rappel down 3-5 waterfalls. Be ready!

The guidebook says 5-hours but trip reports have both shown 8 hours. I am allowing all day in our schedule to complete this. There are also nice swimming pools along the route. Sadly I cannot enjoy them because of my hand, but I hope you all can.

Todozawa - Akamizawa map painted.jpg
Todo falls.jpg

Tamagawa onsen:

This is a very strong and powerful onsen where vasts amounts of piping hot (close to 100C), acidic water (most acidic in Japan) is jetting out of the ground (the most in Japan). It's a surreal and prehistoric atmosphere that is a very rare occurrence on Earth. People even come from all around the country to try and cure themselves of cancer by laying on the ground for weeks at a time, exposing themselves to the radium being emitted from the ground. This is a very unique area that we should make an effort to see.

Takagawa onsen.jpg
Tamagawa bath.jpg
Tamagawa jet.jpg
Tamagawa jet 2.jpg

Matagi Museum:
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Matagi are the people of Japan who hunt (especially bear) using old methods, and also a gun. They use the meat for their livelihood and care deeply about the animals and the environment. The Matagi are few, but are most commonly found in this area of Japan.


Top-100, 2-step 90m waterfall. Can be reached in about 40 minutes on a path from the parking lot.


Moriyoshi Campground:


Simple campground nestled in a beech grove. We'll call this home for 3 whole days.


Rain or shine, I'm expecting an amazing time!
Last edited by Adam on Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:49 am, edited 63 times in total.

Post by karthikleo84 »

Hello Adam,

This looks interesting. Please count me in.

Thanks for organizing😊



Post by Asuka »

I’m in too😄 I’ll do one dinner unless we have too many cooks! Asuka

Post by Tamara »

Sounds Cool, I never been to Akita, I'd like to visit long time ago in search of "Our Lady of Akita" ;D
i hope i can get answers from the locals there in Akita ???
since I already found the "Our Lady of Mt. Fuji" in Subaruline in Mt. Fuji thumbsup
so Count me In please .

Post by karthikleo84 »

I can make chicken curry and steamed rice for a night’s dinner.

Post by Abhijeet »

If anyone can advice me what to make for breakfast, I can prepare it as I am early riser.

Post by Asuka »

Chicken curry sounds delicious!:)
AB, what is a popular Indian breakfast??

Post by Abhijeet »

Hehe, I have never prepared breakfast :-[ .
If anyone guide me how, I volunteer to do it.

Post by Kushal »

Hey guys, I "have work" on the national holidays. But I have worked out a way to join the trip. (I could set online assignments for my students that week)

So Adam, I'll just be floating around as the "7th member" and join if a spot becomes available.

Post by Adam »

Hello all,

It's great to hear all the enthusiasm for this trip and for volunteering to cook. I will need everyone's positive energy and extra help since I just broke my hand yesterday... :( I couldn't be more disappointed about it. I can tell you all what happened later. I still have one good hand, two good, legs, and a strong back. One broken hand is not enough for me to stop having adventures.

I can still drive, but Nozomi, if I need a break, I will need you to step in.

AB, I may need to rely on you a lot. If possible, can you come to my apartment ASAP on Friday to help me pack the van with all the camping cooking supplies? Also, if you can't think of your own breakfast, I can teach you how to make an American breakfast. If that's the case, I will cook a BBQ for one night's dinner. If I cannot be the lead waterfall climber to send down a rope, I will ask you to do it. Make sure to buy some montbell sawanobori shoes (rubber soles). I have 1 extra pair, size 28.5, I believe.

Everyone, PACK LIGHT. 1 duffle bag and 1 day pack per person. We need to conserve space in the car.

Remember, I'll have a big cooler with lots of ice. So if you plan to prepare something ahead of time, it will stay fresh.

Post by Abhijeet »

Yo Adam!

It's good to hear that you got a great spirit. You can count on me for whatever you want. I will be at your place by 4-4:30 on that day. If there is anything you want, feel free to ask.

Post by Nozomi »


I am very sorry to hear that you broke your hand. Please take good care of yourself. Get better soon...

I am happy to assist driving and prepare a breakfast (coffee, granola and maybe hot dog). Can we stop by a super market on the way to the camp ground? I will probably buy granola beforehand in Tokyo :)

A friend of mine recommended Niko Niko Rental Car:
Tel: 0120-32-2525

If you expect me to drive longer, I think it is better to register myself as a second driver when you do the paperwork. I called Niko Niko Rental Car today and they would even rent me a car, if there is someone who has valid driving license for over 3 years beside me when I am driving. They said that I can't rent a car on my own. Their price is good. To rent a van that has space for 8 people, their price is 9,790 yen per 24 hours (S-class according to their price list), if you become a member. It seems that it is very easy to become a member.

I practiced driving a few time when I was travelling in Hokkaido last week. It is just that there was a line of cars behind because I do not normally exceed legal speed limit ;)

Let me know your thought. Thanks.


Post by karthikleo84 »

Hello Adam,

I’m sorry to know that you are injured. Wish you get well soon.

If you would like me to do some shopping for our trip/ breakfast/ dinner, please don’t hesitate to ask me. Also I can assist you for the bbq dinner at the campsite, just let me know what I should do on that day.

Regarding the gears I would take the extra pair of Sawanobori shoes if it’s not required by other members here.




Post by Tamara »

Hi Adam,
You okay? sorry to know, I hope your hand not that so much bad like my wrist does., get well soon though.
I can drive and make alternate driving time with Nozomi san either every 3 hrs or 2.

I hope we can rent a hi-ace van for 10 ppl as of this time hi-ace van in Careco are fully booked, I'm a member of Careco (I guess almost desame price with nico-nico, I'm not sure ) and for 7 seater car there's still cars available.

If there's a car station nearby your place it would be better or either anywhere would be fine as long I can go to your place to pick you guys and the rest of the team Akita in same meeting place in Ikebukuro.
In Careco, the rent for 24 hrs for 7 seater van (Alphard or Vellfire cost Y 11,000 @24 hrs. and 18 yen/1 km ) also it need to add names for extra drivers too.

I can make Pasta Dinner and will bring granola for breakfast ( buy some fresh milk or Yogurt milk for granola, can make fresh salad or BBQ as long as we can pass by the supermarket along in Akita area.

I can do belay, as long we have equipment, ropes, ATC, carabiners, I'll bring whatever I have. So please advice me soon accordingly, about the car.
We can work it out the rest of the itineraries and plans. Keep it up all. All is well.

Post by Adam »

Thank you all for your feedback, research, and support.

I reserved an 8-seater with Nico-Nico which comes put to be 11,000 per day, which is quite reasonable divided by 6 people. Of course, fuel and tolls will still need accounting for.

Tammy, I may rely on you more for driving as long as you are comfortable. Nozomi, we'll rely on you third.

Tammy and Nozomi, I have given you assignments for food (please see top of original post). Stopping at a supermarket along the way won't be a problem. We may also want to buy our lunches there as well. In the spirit of limited space in the cooler, I may decide to do community lunches as well. If we have big breakfasts and dinners, we can go easy on the lunches. It's likely we will find some local restaurants and shops to by food on our sightseeing day.

Karthik, I will reserve the shoes for you. It's hard for me to know how useful they will be, but having them certainly won't hurt. I'm guessing that sneakers will also be fine since there is not a lot of water in this stream and plenty of dry rock.

Harness, ATC, or any other climbing gear is not necessary and will only take up space in the van. I will bring an 18m rope to assist people on the waterfalls. That will provide enough reassurance for those who wish to have it.

Finally, and very important, bring only 2 carry-on size bags with you. I suggest 1 duffel bag and 1 day-pack (without the bulky hip belts). Although it's an 8-passenger van, they are surprisingly small and don't have much storage space. Plus, we don't have Takashi to bring all the wonderful equipment this time. So I ask you all to please follow this 2 bag rule closely.

That's all for now. We still have a lot of time to prepare, but since I am resting now, I'll have more time to ponder this trip. Thank you all for you patience and support. Being able to look forward to this trip keeps my mind off my woes.

Post by May »

Hi Adam, it sounds fun!
Let me be on the waiting list.
Thank you!

Post by May »

Hi Adam,
sorry I’ve got another plan so please remove my name from the waiting list.
Thank you,

Post by Adam »

Understood May, thanks for your interest and we all hope to see you again real soon.

I did some more research and learned more about the sawanobori loop we plan to do this trip. Originally I said we would not need a harness or belay device (such as an ATC or figure 8}, but I am changing that requirement. From now on, we all need a harness, belay device, locking carabiner, helmet, and proper sawanobori shoes (felt or rubber). However, difficulty level of this stream is still just beginner level and the frequency in which we will use the harness will be quite low, I will allow improvised harnesses and ATCs to be used (I can share a couple of techniques). That means, you do not have to buy one if you don't want to. Bring your own harness and belay device or ask me to improvise them for you (not a problem). Please let me know. Helmets and proper sawanobori shoes (Montbell or cheaper ones at a fishing store) are mandatory for this trip. Refer to the Things To Bring list from the original post and let me know if you need any equipment or if you plan to bring your own.

Below are two very brief summaries of trip reports of the route we will take.

Report 1, the author went alone, which leads me to believe he did not use a belay for climbing. He did say he rappelled 5 times going down. This author took a long time to finish the loop, which included two naps. He took 8:30.

Report 2 was made by a member of a large group. The author described climbing Todo Falls comfortably by using steps and no rope. Shortly after, the author encountered a 3-step waterfall (8m, 4m, 2m), which had steps with two fixed ropes to aid climbing. The author climbed it with confidence. The only other thing worth mentioning is that the group made it to the saddle easily and without many bushes or branches.

Going down, the group rappelled down 3 or 4 sections, (13m Usagitake being the longest). The author noticed steps carved on the sides of some waterfalls, but they chose to rappel for safety. About 8:00 total time.

Based on the reports, I think it's better that we all come prepared to use a rope, harness, and belay device for the decent.

Report 1 - ... 94182.html
Report 2 - ... a047774ea1

todotaki steps painted.jpg
todotaki groove.jpg
descending 5m.jpg
descending 8m.jpg
descending usagi.jpg