Yamato natural spring water is one of Japan’s “top 100 water” as selected by the Ministry of the Environment. Some people call the water Fuppugawa water. The spring water is pumped from the source at the 100 Tatami Mat Rock on Mt Kamabuse (585 metres) to a more accessible location at a lower altitude. The area around the source is protected. Not only for the safety of visitors, but also for preservation reasons. We happened upon the water pumps quite by accident on a summer drive on a rarely used mountain road.
Yamato water / Yamatosui / Yamato mizu is written in Japanese with the kanji for Japan 日本 and the kanji for water 水. Until I got home and researched it I assumed it was called Nihon mizu which means Japanese water. And was trying to figure out how they could call the spring “Japanese water” when all water in Japan is Japanese water!
What drew our attention to it was the line of cars on the side of the country road. The road does widen at this part and there are places to pull in and even a public toilet. We pulled over to see why there were a handful of cars with out-of-prefecture reg plates were lined up. And were further intrigued by the number of bottles and 18 liter canisters people were putting in the car. It would seem people literally fill their car boot (trunk) with the water from this spring. Thankfully we had empty flasks at this point and an empty two liter bottle, so we followed suit and filled them up. There is a donation box you can contribute to – any money collected is used to maintain the pipes that bring the water from the source.
The legend behind Yamato Water
The story goes that the Brave Prince of Yamato, a Japanese folk hero, brought forth the spring unexpectedly when he pierced a massive rock front with his sword. The rock is called the “100 Tatami Mats Rock”. Supposedly the prince could only take one cup of the water because it was so cold. It is nicknamed “one cup” for this reason.
Moreover, apart from the folklore about how the spring came to be, the water is also famed for its divinity. They say that drinking the water brings long life. And it is also believed that drinking the water can aid conception in couples who have been struggling to get pregnant. The water has been flowing since ancient times and the area at the source has been enshrined.
Fuppugawa / Yamato water is soft water. Supposedly it has 1.9 mg of magnesium, 1.12 mg of calcium and 0.16 mg of sodium per 100 millilitres. It has a ph of 7.6 according to the Japan top 100 water website.
Fuppu River Area
Apart from Yamato water being in the top 100, the area around the spring also features in a top 100 list. The forest around the spring was selected by Japan’s forestry agency as one of the best 100 water forests in Japan. The water might explain why the rainbow trout at Fuppu Nijimasu Fishing ponds is so popular and so good! Apart from its water, the area is also renowned for mikan (Japanese oranges) picking. The area has been growing mikan for 400 years. The Kobayashi Mikan Mountain is in this area.
Yorii town and water
Yorii water has a strong connection with water and with the water God. The spring, the water forests, a shrine to the water God to name, but a few. And then there is the must see Yorii Tamayodo Suitengu Festival, which is said to be the number one water festival in the Kanto area.
Off the beaten path mountain road
As I said above, we came upon this gem by accident. We were travelling from a cabin in Yoshida to the Fuppu Nijimasu fishing ponds and restaurant by way of an old mountain road rarely used. The road is rarely used because it is so tough on a vehicle due to the incline and curves on the road. In fact, near the summit we met a tow truck that had come to help a k-truck that had conked out on the road. They were the only other vehicles we saw on the five kilometre windy road.
Going on this route was very rewarding in terms of scenery, but I think we’ll take the easier route the next time! If you come in from the south east you only have to take a few bends and the incline is less taxing on a car.