Chiiwa-kyo Mountain Gorge

The highlight of Chiiwa-kyo is the 670m. Mt. Chiiwa, which has a lot of caves, large and small . . .

Chiiwa-kyo is located in Shinshiro City, Aichi Prefecture (in the Chubu Region). It is a range of gorges spanning four kilometers in the upper reaches of the Chiiwa River, a tributary of the Ure River. Situated in the Tenryu-Okumikawa Quasi-National Park, this area has many steep and rocky hills and mountains. So therefore, it is popular as a mecca of free climbing. (But you need to be careful not to disturb your surroundings because these rocky mountains are protected by law). You can see Japan’s natural beauty here.

Clear mountain water at Chiiwa-kyo gorge.

The highlight of Chiiwa-kyo is the 670m. Mt. Chiiwa, which has a lot of caves, large and small, but sometimes we need to climb almost vertically to reach some of them.

Photo taken with a Fujifilm X-T1

The Legend

By the way, the kanji character representing a woman’s breast is used for ‘chi’ of Chiiwa-kyo. This is because a breast-like lump of stalactite is hanging from the ceiling of the largest cave on Mt. Chiiwa. Legend has it that a starved child of a traveler survived by drinking the dew dripping from the breast-like rock.

Beautiful nature at Chiiwa-kyo mountain gorge.

Start Exploring

I visited there on a sunny day in May 2016 with my friend. After visiting several places in Horai Town, we got to Chiiwa-kyo in the afternoon. We parked the car in the narrowest parking space I’ve ever seen and started walking. 


The ground we walked on didn’t consist of normal soil but of bedrock. It was a large river-bed, seemingly made up of one piece of flat smooth bedrock. There was a stream in which very clear water flowed, forming interesting features like small waterfalls and rapids everywhere.

Clear water at Chiiwa-kyo mountain gorge.

After walking in the woods for fifteen minutes, we arrived at the foot of the cliff, which stood dauntingly in front of us. My friend wanted to climb, but unfortunately I was already exhausted by then from walking all day long.

Mt. Chiiwa, a free-climbing spot in Japan.

Furthermore, the majestic presence of the cliff was enough to discourage me, and I didn’t want to die. I said to him, “I can’t go.” So he told me to wait there. The place where I was waiting was tranquil, being surrounded by lush dense woods.

Beautiful nature at Chiiwa-kyo gorge.

However, my friend returned 30 minutes later, saying “that was too high.” After all that, we could not conquer the cliff that day. Nevertheless, I was, in a way, satisfied because I could relax in the rich natural environment with its almost therapeutic-like healing qualities.

Nature at Chiiwa-kyo mountain gorge, Aichi Prefecture.

Several days later, I talked with a local woman living in Shinshiro City. She said to me that climbing the cliff was actually not that hard if I put my mind to it. So maybe I was just overwhelmed by the look of it. Anyway, we certainly enjoyed that day and we came back to downtown Hamamatsu to satisfy our hunger with cold beer and yakitori.


We have had a very severe journey from Toyoka. That day the rain was ceaseless, and in the driving mists one could see little but low hills looming on the horizon.

Isabella L. Bird in Unbeaten tracks in Japan 1880.

Getting There (English Map)

Chiiwa-kyo is about a 75-minute drive from the Toyokawa Interchange on the Tomei Expressway, or about a 30-minute drive from the Shinshiro Interchange on the Shin-Tomei Expressway. If you use a railway, it is about a 40-minute walk from Mikawa-kawai Station on the Iida Line.

Other Photos

chiiwa-kyo | 乳岩峡
The grounds at Chiiwa-kyo, consisting of bedrock.
Chiiwa-kyo Mountain Gorge | 愛知県の山間部
Nature in Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Yakitori  | 焼き鳥

Places Nearby

There are a couple of interesting places near Chiiwa-kyo. They are just a short drive from the gorge. Ure Dam was constructed in Horai Town (present-day Shinshiro City) in 1958. It was built of concrete, and the lake created by damming up the water is called Lake Horai. Nagashino Castle Ruins Museum is also one of the major tourist attractions in the region. This museum stands at the site of Nagashino Castle and exhibits many items concerning the crucial Battle of Nagashino in 1575.

The track of the Iida Line in Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Track of the Iida Line running through Horai Town.
Onsen facilities along the river in Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Onsen hot springs along the Ure River.
The Nagashino Castle Ruins Museum in Aichi, Japan
The Nagashino Castle Ruins Museum.
Ure Dam | 宇連ダム
Ure Dam.
Lake Horai
Lake Horai.


Chiiwa-kyo in Horai Town is the place not only for avid rock climbers or nature lovers, but also for people who are looking for a place to refresh, temporarily taking a distance from everyday work. If you are interested in a guided tour in and around Chiiwa-kyo, please send an e-mail from the form on Rates/Contact page of this site.

Photographs: taken at Chiiwa-kyo Mountain Gorge,
by Koji Ikuma, with Fuji X-T1
equipped with either Hexanon AR 35mm f2
or G. Zuiko Auto-S 40mm f1.4 (I forgot which lens I used).

Outbound Links (New Window)

Hazu Resorts
HAZU RESORTS (Inns in Shinshiro City).

Katsura RyikyuKatsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto

Ota shrine in KyotoHidden Gems in Kamigamo, Kyoto

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Reference Links (New Window)

Link to Vintage Camera Lenses
Link to Tetsu Sawamura official site
Tetsu Sawamura official website (Japanese only).

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Shurijo Castle Park
Link to Kusatsu Onsen website
KUSATSU-ACCOMMODATION.JP introduces a large range of accommodations, including Japanese-style inns and large resort hotels, located in the Kusatsu Onsen hot springs area in northern Kanto.
Link to Koshu Valley .com
Insider's guide to the Koshu Vally (Katsunuma) wine region. Katsunuma Town in Yamanashi Prefecture (in the Chubu Region) is known as the birthplace of the Japanese wine industry. And the wine from this area has been attracting growing attention from wine drinkers overseas.
Link to Shimanto City Tourism Association
Shimanto City Tourism Association. Flowing through the western part of Southern Shikoku, the Shimanto River is called 'the last clear river in Japan'. And some of the 'chinka-bashi bridges' across the river are now popular tourist attractions in Shimanto City.
Link to Fukuyama Hiroshima Tourism Guide
FUKUYAMA HIROSHIMA Tourism Guide includes information about Tomonoura, a small fishing town that flourished in the Edo Period as an important transportation hub.
Link to Shiretoko Shari-cho Tourism Association
Shiretoko Shari-cho Tourist Association. The Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido extends a long distance into the Sea of Okhotsuk. Registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2005, this area still has a considerable amount of pristine environment.
Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center. Straddling both Aomori and Akita Prefectures in the Tohoku Region, Shirakami Sanchi is home to a large-scale primitive buna (Japanese beech) forest. In 1993, this mountainous area was registered as one of Japan's very first UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Link to Itsukushima Shurine website
Itsukushima Shrine official website. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, Itsukushima Shrine attracts a lot of tourists and religious worshippers every year. The shrine is located on Miyajima Island, which is known as one of the three most scenic places in Japan.
Link to Wakayama Prefecture World Heritage Center
Wakayama Prefecture World Heritage Center. Many religious structures and old paths in the Kii Mountains in southern Kinki were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2004.
Link to Kamikochi website
Kamikochi official website. Situated in the western part of Nagano Prefecture in the Chubu Region, Kamikochi is a scenic highland valley surrounded by the high Hida Mountain range in the Northern Japan Alps.
Link to Ise Jingu website
ISE JINGU official website. Located in the Kinki Region, Ise Jingu is one of the most important religious sites in Japan. This Shinto shrine has been revered by successive emperors throughout history. And now it receives an annual visit from the prime minister of Japan.
Hiraizumi Tourism Association. Located in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku Region, Hiraizumi was the political center of Japan in the 11th and 12th centuries. Several sites here were added to the World Cultural Heritage List in 2011.
Link to Amanohashidate Tourism Association
Amanohashidate Tourism Association. Located in northern Kinki, Amano-no-hashidate has been known as one of the three most scenic spots of Japan since long time ago.
Link to Historical Village of Hokkaido website
Historical Village of Hokkaido is a large open-air museum located in Sapporo, Hokkaido. In the compound, there are more than 50 buildings of historical importance, which were relocated and restored.