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Spectacular view & mirror magic in Niigata! kiyotsu gorge (nigata)

What is Kiyotsukyo Gorge?

Photo Credit:General Incorporated Association, Tokamachi TouristAssociation

Kiyotsukyo Gorge is known as one of Japan's three great gorges, along with Kurobe Gorge (Toyama) and Osugi Valley (Mie).

The huge rock walls that rise across the river have created a magnificent grand gorge over a long period of time, and it is designated as a national natural monument of scenic beauty.

The majestic columnar-jointed rock faces and the rushing rapids of the clear Kiyotsu River provide a dynamic and spectacular view.


Where is Kiyotsu Gorge?

Kiyotsu Gorge belongs to Tokamachi City in the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture, and is located about 35 minutes by car (about 23 km by national highway, or about 19 km in a straight line) south of the center of Tokamachi City, where Tokamachi City Hall is located.


  • By car

Take the Kanetsu Expressway, travel approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo or 1 hour and 30 minutes from Niigata, get off at the Shiozawa-Ishiuchi IC, and travel approximately 25 minutes on the national highway to the Kiyotsukyo Entrance. From there, take the Kiyotsu Park Line to the back, and you will find parking lots 1-3. The first parking lot near the Kiyotsukyo hot spring resort and the entrance to the Kiyotsukyo Gorge Tunnel is for buses only, so passenger cars should park in the second and third parking lots.

  • By public transportation

Take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen and get off at Echigo-Yuzawa Station. Take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen and get off at Echigo Yuzawa Station, then transfer to a public bus. From there, a 30-minute walk (approx. 2 km) will take you to the Kiyotsukyo Entrance.


Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, one of the highlights of the Kiyotsu Gorge

ⓒMa Yansong/MAD Architects「Tunnel of Light」 Photo Credit:General Incorporated Association, Tokamachi TouristAssociation

Kiyotsu Gorge is famous as one of the three most beautiful gorges in Japan. It has long been a popular tourist destination for many visitors, but since a rock fall in 1988, it has been closed to visitors because safety could not be guaranteed. However, in recent years, in response to requests from locals and tourists, the Kiyotsukyo Gorge Tunnel was completed in October 1996, taking into consideration the need for safe passage. Furthermore, the tunnel was reopened as an artwork "Tunnel of Light" by the Chinese architectural unit Ma Yansong/MAD Architects at the 7th Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in 2018. Inside the tunnel, which is designed to resemble a cave, there are tricks to view nature from different perspectives through the production of light and use of space.

The 750-meter-long Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel has three viewing points and a panoramic station at the end of the tunnel, which offers a spectacular view of the beauty of the gorge. The most impressive of these is the Panorama Station at the far end of the tunnel. The walls are made of stainless steel plates and the floor is covered with water, reflecting the Gorge. This beautiful view has become a hot topic on SNS in recent years because it is so Instagram-worthy.


Autumn leaves in Kiyotsu Gorge

Photo Credit:General Incorporated Association, Tokamachi TouristAssociation

The autumn foliage season at Kiyotsu Gorge begins in mid-October and is at its best from the end of October to the beginning of November. The contrast between the autumn leaves and the rocky surface of Kiyotsu Gorge, with its extreme temperature differences, makes for a view so stunning that no amount of paint can describe it.


All high season! You can enjoy all four seasons!

ⓒMa Yansong/MAD Architects「Tunnel of Light」 Photo Credit:General Incorporated Association, Tokamachi TouristAssociation

Kiyotsu Gorge is attractive for its rich natural scenery. Visitors can enjoy the natural scenery in each of the four seasons.

Photo Credit:General Incorporated Association, Tokamachi TouristAssociation

<Spring>The fresh green season starts around Golden Week. Kiyotsukawa Mountain is filled with abundant water from the melting snow.

<Summer> The Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel, where a cool breeze blows through even in summer, is recommended.

<Autumn> From mid-October, the trees begin to change colors and the scenery becomes more beautiful. The temperature drops dramatically, so be sure to bring a warm jacket.

<Winter> Snow begins to fall around mid-December, and the scenery quickly becomes snowy. Snow usually accumulates more than 2 meters and remains until April.


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