DAY 14 Geibikei Boat Ride and Flying Dango at Genbikei

DAY 14 Geibikei Boat Ride and Flying Dango at Genbikei

October 27th, 2019

Clicking on a link marked with a * takes you to a more detailed post, such as a review.

Geibikei gorge
Genbikei gorge
Flying dango restaurant

Food: Asahi Sushi Ichinoseki*

Hotel: Kura Hotel Ichinoseki*

 

We started with a satisfactory breakfast at the hotel. I hadn’t expected many options for vegans but I cheated a bit and took the bowls of tofu and seaweed that were supposed to be for tipping in to one’s miso soup (which wasn’t vegan). Of course, there were loads of options for the not-vegetarians so I think people would be quite happy overall with the breakfast here:

We then walked a few minutes to the station and caught the JR Ofunato line train to Geibikei station. The train was busy with lots of fellow tourists and it was a really noisy old train too– take your noise cancelling headphones if these noises bother you!

Geibikei station was packed with tour buses in the parking lots and people walking quickly towards the Geibikei boat dock. The queues for the boat rides were a little long but moved quickly. You can find out more about these boat rides at http://www.geibikei.co.jp

You must remove your shoes as soon as you step on to the boat. There’s a wooden platform area where you do this, then you put your shoes aside and step down on to the tatami-lined boat floor, sitting on cushions.

The boat ride through the gorge was as stunning as I’d seen online. I was so glad at this point that I’d researched our trip extensively and chosen this location. Ducks and fish followed the boats, and we’d bought some fish food for 50 yen at the boarding point.

About halfway through the ninety minute ride, the boats stop and you get out for about twenty minutes, where you walk across a bridge to some scenic points. The cliff face opposite has a hole in the rock, and you can purchase five engraved stones for 100 yen and attempt to throw them over the water and in to the hole. Not as easy as it sounds and I failed miserably. Most people failed but then one person got the stone in the hole, everyone cheered him. It was fun standing around watching people try their luck!

Then it was back on to the boat. I should point out that we had just followed people in our group as there were no signs or instructions that we saw or heard (in English anyway) about the boat stopping halfway and guests getting twenty minutes walking time before having to head back to the boat. I only knew this because I’d read accounts from other travelers.

While you’re in the boat, there’s a person up high on a platform who takes a photo of your group, which you can later buy.

Towards the end of the return journey, we were treated a lovely song which was the highlight of the boat ride:

There were lots of shopping opportunities such as gift stores and food stalls set up. I went to the dango stall and opted for the dango covered in adzuki paste, black sesame and a new favourite, sweet mame (beans):

Yet again we were a bit stuffed around by the lack of a train or bus back to Ichinoseki station for an hour and forty minutes, so we caught a taxi again. People talk about taxis in Japan being really expensive but I found them comparable to Melbourne and in situations like this, quite necessary.

After a brief stop at our hotel room, I asked the desk staff how best to get to Genbikei, which is on the west side of Ichinoseki station, with the Geibikei boat ride being east. Google Maps was saying there were no buses on Sunday but the staff gave me a map and timetable and buses were indeed running. We caught the 14:00 bus from Ichinoseki station to Genbikei. it took about twenty minutes and cost around 500 yen:

We explored the riverbank for a while, and it was quite busy with the tourist groups, before heading over to the flying dango point:

From this location, there is a cable/rope going across the river, up high to the chef on the other side. From the low end where we were, you put your 400 yen in the basket and use a hammer to hit a wooden board. This signals the chef, and he pulls the basket up over the river and five or so minutes later your tea and dango come whizzing back down over the river to you, without a drop of tea spilt:

The chef, from afar, tries to guess your nationality and plays the anthem and/or waves a flag. Unfortunately we didn’t have this novelty but the group in front of us did and cheered when the chef guessed correctly.

After the flying dango we went for a walk around the area, before catching the bus back.

When I’d booked our hotel I had zoomed in on the surrounding area in Google Maps, trying to see which restaurants may serve vegan options. One place was Asahi Sushi so I emailed them at the time, using Google translate, and they confirmed they could make the veg options. We ended up having a nice dinner, you can read a slightly more detailed review here:

Back to the hotel, and called it a night.

On to Day 15.

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