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Unveiling Hidden Gems: Thrilling Local Attractions and Must-Do Adventures!

  • Writer's pictureOnpointMadarao

Unveiling the Magic of Kiyotsu Gorge: Explore Tokamachi - Nature's Art collaboration.

Location: Tokamachi

Distance from Onpoint Madarao: 64.2km / 1hr 16 minutes by car.

08:30~17:00 Open Mon-Sun

Set in the stunning landscapes of Niigata Prefecture, Japan, Kiyotsu Gorge is a picturesque paradise, blending the beauty of Mother Nature and the intrigue of human artistry. Just a short drive from Onpoint Madarao, this beautiful spectacle unfolds in the heart of Jōshin'etsu-kōgen National Park. The gorge extends a generous 12.5 kilometers along the Kiyotsu River, claiming its rightful place among Japan's three major canyons. So, buckle up as we delve into the grandeur of Kiyotsu Gorge, a haven for everyone, especially nature lovers and art enthusiasts!

Art installation at Kiyotsu Gorge tunnel.
Where art meets nature.

Into the Heart of the Gorge:

Kiyotsu Gorge, acclaimed as one of the Three Great Gorges of Japan, exudes a majestic presence as towering stone cliffs stretch across the river, giving rise to a vast V-shaped gorge. The impressive interplay between the imposing rock formations and the powerful currents of the river creates a dynamic and breathtaking spectacle. Recently, in spring 2018, the facilities underwent a comprehensive renovation, ushering in a new era.

Attracting visitors from far and wide, the gorge serves as the gateway to the Kiyotsukyō Onsen, a delightful hot spring resort. Particularly during the autumn foliage season, this serene retreat draws many travelers seeking relaxation and a chance to soak in the healing waters.

Welcoming visitors with open arms, Kiyotsukyō Onsen provides a perfect starting point for exploring the wonders of the gorge. Adjacent to the tunnel entrance, a modern two-story building has emerged, housing a delightful café on the first floor and a soothing foot bath on the second floor. These additions enhance the overall experience, providing visitors with both refreshment and relaxation amidst the enchanting surroundings.

v-shaped natural rock formation at Kiyotsu Gorge Japan.
Breathtaking views await you.

Tunnel of Light art exhibition :

Designated as a Natural Monument in 1941 and incorporated into the esteemed Jōshin’etsukōgen National Park in 1949, Kiyotsu Gorge allures visitors with its unique geological features. The remarkable columnar jointing rock formations, fashioned from rapidly cooling magma, create a striking display of interlocking patterns. These natural wonders, shaped by the forces of nature and tectonic activity, have been gradually exposed and sculpted by the mighty Kiyotsu River. As you explore the gorge, both vertical and horizontal columnar jointing will captivate your senses, offering a glimpse into the geological marvels unfolding before you. One of the defining features of Kiyotsu Gorge is its spectacular rock formations. Millennia of water erosion have carved intricate patterns into the cliffs, resulting in a visually stunning landscape that seems straight out of a fairy tale. As you stroll along the walking paths or venture into the observation decks, be prepared to be awestruck by the sheer grandeur and artistry of nature displayed in the gorge's towering rock walls.

Previously, access to the rock formations was restricted due to safety concerns, following the closure of a path that followed the gorge's edge in 1988. However, in 1996, a remarkable transformation took place as a 750-meter pedestrian tunnel emerged, granting visitors the opportunity to marvel at Kiyotsu Gorge from three strategically placed lookout points. The tunnel not only provides a safe and immersive experience but also serves as the canvas for extraordinary artistic collaboration.

Art and Culture Merge in Nature:

In 2018, the renowned Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale festival breathed new life into the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel. Led by the visionary minds at MAD Architects, the tunnel was reborn as "The Tunnel of Light." With stainless steel panels adorning the final lookout, the installation embodies its namesake by flooding the floor with spring water. This reflective surface transforms the space into a captivating chamber that mirrors the stunning gorge and the lush surrounding forest. It's a truly mesmerizing experience, where art and nature converge in perfect harmony.

In a beautiful blend of art and nature, Kiyotsu Gorge houses the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel Museum, an innovative underground art museum that harmonizes with its surroundings. As you meander through the dimly lit tunnels adorned with captivating artworks, you'll find yourself immersed in a world where nature and creativity coexist. The museum's unique concept and thought-provoking exhibits offer a thought-provoking contrast to the gorge's natural wonders, adding an extra layer of intrigue to your visit.

A beautiful designed, minimalist heaven, with wooden stools, and beautiful potted plants.
Immersed in a world where nature and creativity coexist.

A Symphony of Majestic Waterfalls:

Kiyotsu Gorge is also home to several majestic waterfalls that cascade down the cliffs, creating a symphony of sights and sounds. Among them, the most renowned is the Ryugakyo Waterfall, known for its powerful flow and captivating beauty. As you witness the water plunging into the depths below, you'll feel a sense of awe and wonder at the raw power of nature. The surrounding mist and the symphony of chirping birds add to the enchantment, creating a multisensory experience that will stay etched in your memory forever.

Formerly, a climbing path ran alongside the river, but it was closed following a rockfall incident in 1988. Nevertheless, the tunnel ensures that visitors can still savor the mesmerizing beauty of Kiyotsu Gorge in a safe and immersive manner.

For those seeking an active adventure, Kiyotsu Gorge offers a network of well-maintained hiking trails that cater to various fitness levels. Embark on a leisurely stroll along the riverbank, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and take in the panoramic views. For a more daring experience, traverse the thrilling Kiyotsu Suspension Bridge, which hangs high above the gorge and rewards you with breathtaking vistas at every step. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a novice explorer, the trails and bridge provide an opportunity to connect with nature while challenging yourself physically. It's time to explore Tokamachi.

Kiyotsu Gorge river.
Naturally formed magma columns line the river walls.

Kiyotsu Gorge beckons travelers with its otherworldly landscapes, awe-inspiring rock formations and invigorating hiking trails. Whether you're seeking solitude, adventure, or artistic inspiration, this hidden gem in Japan offers a sanctuary for all. Prepare to be captivated by the spellbinding beauty of Kiyotsu Gorge, where nature's grandeur intertwines with the ingenuity of artistic expression. Embark on this unforgettable journey, allowing the harmonious blend of art, nature, and tranquility to leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Whether you're an avid photographer, an avid hiker, or simply someone seeking solace in nature's embrace, Kiyotsu Gorge offers an abundance of opportunities to reconnect with the natural world.

Explore Tokamachi. Stay at Onpoint Madarao Hotel:

After a day of exhilarating hiking and adventures around Nagano and Niigata, unwind and recharge at Onpoint Madarao Hotel. Our cozy and comfortable accommodations provide the perfect respite, offering a serene atmosphere to relax and reflect on your outdoor escapades. Our attentive staff will ensure that your stay is memorable, and our facilities cater to all your needs, whether indulging in delicious cuisine or relaxing by the open fire and bar.

Embark on an all-out adventure at Onpoint Madarao: hike amidst enchanting nature, indulge in fantastic local foods, and explore thrilling local lake sports. Book now at and let Madarao's magic captivate your heart!



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