Sanba Keikoku – Known in English as either Sanba Gorge, Sanba Valley or Sanba Ravine. It is a beautiful ravine in nature rich Tokigawa, Saitama Prefecture (Japan), North West of Tokyo. Despite the town’s remote location the area is serviced by a (infrequent) train. The station, Myokaku station, is a tourist spot in itself, due to the unusual architecture of the station.
Sanba Gorge / Sanba Ravine
The Tokigawa town eponymous Toki River runs through the gorge. Due to a man made stairway down to the gorge, it is easy to access even if you aren’t much of a hiker or trekker. In Spring there are few people around. Particularly this year with Coronavirus. It proved a popular getaway for my family of six before the State of Emergency.
Please note that the car park for the gorge is closed during the Saitama State of Emergency. And that Tokigawa Town have asked people to refrain from visiting the Sanba Gorge (/Sanba Ravine) during the State of Emergency period.
However, in the summer it is quite a popular spot. It attracts locals as well as people from neighboring towns and cities too. To avoid the crowds the ravine draws in the height of summer, you have to be prepared to climb to get to a more remote location to set up day camp / barbecue and / or splash around. Also, if you are coming by car you may not be able to park in the official car park.
The stair down has a handrail, but that and a toilet near the car park is about the extent of the facilities at the south entrance to the ravine. On the North end though, there is the Tokigawa Shiki-saikan. It is located beside the river and has several facilities. There is a stunning hot springs at Tokigawa Shiki Saikan. In an old transformed house. They also have a really nice barbecue area. There is a picnic area beside it.
The Toki river is quite clear and clean in the Sanba gorge. So if you are looking for clear rivers where children can play or fish, this is a good choice. However, it is a popular place for children to play in the river in summer, so it can get crowded. The gorge itself is very rocky with stone beaches, but there are a few spots where the river is not rocky. There is one part where the river is deep enough to have a little swim. The river is also frequently used for fishing.
There are several areas in the gorge that are suitable for climbing. However for some areas you would need to have the proper equipment. There are some nice spots to climb up to, such as the naturally formed tunnel through some rock pictured above.
A note on safety
Apart from the man-made stairs down to the gorge, the Samba ravine is for the most part in its natural state. A preserved nature area of Tokigawa. It is a very rocky gorge and the area to the left of the stairs is full of large rocks that you can climb on. To get to the rocks you first have to wade through the river, which is knee high for an adult. The area in front of the stairs is where the deep part is, waist high for the average adult.
To the right of the stairs is safer for smaller children. But as it is rocky, due diligence is advised. However, the river on that end is not as rocky as other parts and the water is only ankle high and therefore is suited to river play.
Sanba Gorge, Tokigawa
Sanba Ravine / Sanba Gorge / Sanba Keikoku
|Address:||〒355-0357 Saitama, Hiki District, Tokigawa, Sanba Gorge|
|Phone:||Tokigawa Town Office 0493-65-1532|
|Hours:||The ravine doesn’t close, but the car park is roped off at night|
|Cost:||Free and free parking|
|Online:||On the Tokigawa town website|
Sanba Ravine Access
Free parking beside the staircase down to the gorge, Tokigawa nature spot. They are currently making another car park beside it. There is also free parking on the far side of the river.
Despite Tokigawa being a rural nature town it has a train station. And not just any old train station, one that is famed for its architecture. The station has become a tourist spot in itself. Myokaku Station is frequently listed in books about scenic train station magazines. It is on the rural and scenic Hachiko line from Hachioji, Tokyo. The station was opened in March 1934, but the current building was only built in 1988. It was built to replace the original building that was damaged by fire.
The Sanba Gorge is a 40 minute walk from Myokaku Station. There is a bus stop just a minute walk from the entrance to the gorge. The bus goes to Myokaku Station via Seseragi Bus Center. An alternative route is to get a bus to the Tokigawa Four Seasons Hot spring and walk into the gorge from that end.
In the Tokigawa Area
- The excellent Retro Tamagawa Hot springs and Sento | TOKIGAWA
- BBQ and glampsite Comoriver Tokitama Himitsu Kichi| TOKIGAWA
- Washi workshop in Tokigawa