The Yoro-Keikoku Valley and the Yoro River is an untouched pocket of Chiba just waiting to be explored.
The Yoro-Keikoku Valley is just south of the center of the Chiba peninsula and is accessible by train or car.
Yoro-Keikoku Station is on the Kominato Line. To get there by train, take the Keiyo Line from Tokyo to Soga. Change at Soga to the Uchibo Line and change to the Kominato Line at Goi Station. You can also reach the park by driving the Aqua Line to Kisarazu.
The Yoro River winds through the center of the Boso Peninsula, south of the Kominato Railway to the Pacific Ocean, creating the lush and rugged Yoro-Keikoku Valley. The roaring river is flanked by steep hills covered in dense forest. Although close to both Tokyo and Chiba, the valley is a lesser known Chiba Prefecture attraction.
The entrance to the valley is Yoro-Keikoku Station on the Kominato Railway Line. From there, the valley stretches six kilometers to the south, ending at Otaki, home of one of Chiba's most famous castles.
The best time to visit the valley is during the fall when the autumn leaves are brilliant red, yellow and gold. The colorful leaves create a canopy over the valley and its roaring river. The momiji (Japanese maple trees) are in abundance here and a fall festival is hosted in celebration of them.
The valley is gorgeous at other times of year, too. During the spring, it's an excellent place to enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms and azaleas. Summer offers swimming, hiking and other activities around the river. In winter, icicles hang from the rocks.
The park is best known for its waterfalls, including Awamata no Taki, Chiba's biggest waterfall. From a height of 30 meters, its water cascades down a fascinating collection of stair-like rocks.
The park's walking trails make it a mecca for hikers. One particularly popular trail extends just under two kilometers right along the banks of the Yoro River.
Some rocks form steps where you can cross the river. Part of the trail passes right by the park's most famous waterfall. This course takes about three hours but there are many shorter hiking courses as well. The park presents a variety of trails of all lengths and levels of difficulty.
At one part of the river is Shusse Kannon Temple, a small temple built during the 12th century that ancient Japanese military commanders prayed at for success in battle. The temple is at a scenic spot with lush foliage on its grounds, including plum trees that bloom with purple flowers in February.
To get to the temple, you have to cross the Kannon Bridge. The bridge is the same vermillion color that you see at temples and shrines and offers views of the river and the steep tree-covered hills on either side.
Near Yoro-Keikoku Station are resorts with Japanese-style ryokan and hot springs. The hot springs here are unique kuroyu, or black hot springs. The surprisingly dark color is caused by organic plant material in the soil.