Checking out the deep green corridor-like ravine of Tarumae Garo
by Shungo Hanaoka
On the southern shore of Lake Shikotsu, Mount Tarumae is topped with a lava dome that’s still volcanically active. With this mountain as its source, the Tarumae River flows into the Pacific Ocean at the city of Tomakomai. The beautiful, moss-covered Tarumae Garo is located within Tarumae River’s central basin.
Tarumae Garo’s ravine was carved out of the volcanic rock plateau over many thousands of years by the erosive strength of the Tarumae River. It’s located in the forest, a 3.6 kilometre drive from National Route 36. By following the signage, you’ll reach Tarumae Garo Bridge. Here, you can park nearby and approach the river, upon which you’ll see the deep ravine and flowing, narrow rapids.
Located a short distance upstream from the bridge, there’s a place where you can go right down to the water’s edge. Using the rope shown in the photo above, you can carefully, slowly descend to this spot.
Massive yet peaceful, being within the ravine is a solemn experience. Each side has a straight vertical height of 5-6 metres, creating a boxed in feel. It’s a natural, deep green corridor.
Moist, velvety moss beautifully covers the precipitous rock face. There are over 60 varieties of moss growing here. This is the beauty of nature’s patient craftsmanship.
The cool air here is filled with negative ions. This is a place to rest and spend a while taking it all in. The ‘Garo’ in Tarumae Garo may come from the word for ‘steep cliff’ in the northeastern dialect of Japanese, but it may also come from the English word ‘gully’; the origin does not seem to be clearly known.
Incidentally, it was raining on the day we went. We were able to enjoy the exquisitely green surroundings. On sunny days, there are times when the sunlight shines down into the ravine like light beams. This is one place you’ll want to bring your tripod and return again and again.