Gōkei (豪渓) was designated as one of Japan’s National Site of Scenery Beauty in 1923. It is a beautiful valley located upstream of the Makidani River (槙谷川), a tributary of the Takahashi River (高梁川). The valley is still considered a hidden gem as most of the tourists who come to the valley are locals. With such a stunning landscape, if you come to Okayama in autumn without visiting Gōkei, it is really a shame!
Throughout the promenade along the river, you will have countless photo opportunities that will make this short promenade the longest 600 meters you will ever walk on in your life (´▽｀*).
The most common and recommended way to explore the valley is trekking upstream along the Makidani River from Gōkeiji.
Along the river, there is a lot of granite. As the rocks have been weathered over a long time or eroded by the flow of the stream, the valley is also known for the weird-looking rocks!
How to Get to Gōkei Valley
As there are no bus services stopping at the valley, you will have to either drive there or take a taxi from the closest train station Gōkei Station (豪渓駅). It takes around 10 minutes to drive there from Gōkei Station, so it will probably cost you around 3,000 yen if you catch a taxi.
If you plan to drive, just note the road leading to the valley is very narrow. So always be on the lookout and drive carefully!
You can also walk from Gōkei Station (豪渓駅), which will take roughly 90 mins.
The location indicated on Google Maps will show you the free car parks as well as the starting point of the scenic promenade.
Gōkei Information Center (豪渓観光案内所) and Gōkeiji Temple (豪渓寺)
Located in the middle of the entire promenade is the Gōkei Information Center. It is also the only place you will find a toilet facility in the entire valley.
The information center is only open in the autumn foliage season from the 1st to the end of November from 9 am to 4 pm each year. When it is open, you can grab some takeaway if you are hungry!
Important: We haven’t been able to confirm whether any vegetarian options are sold at the Information Center.
Close to the Gōkei Information Center, the Gōkeiji Temple is another attraction along the valley. As no monks live in the temple, the temple’s ground is not as well maintained. But it is still another type of peaceful atmosphere you won’t be able to get from other temples in Japan (^_-)-☆.
Mt. Tenchū (天柱山)
While you admire the autumn foliage around you, don’t forget to look up as well.
On one side of the valley, the name of the mountain – Tenchū (天柱), was engraved on one of the granite (referring to the 3rd photo in the Instagram post). Back in 1801, the name of this 330 meters tall mountain was first written by a local calligrapher, which was then carved onto the rock by two masons over the next 14 days.
Tip: There is an explanation signboard close to where this rock is, so it shouldn’t be too hard to spot it!
From here to the end of the promenade – Mikaeri Bridge (見返り橋), it is just a short stroll.
Just like its name, the scenery from the bridge is so stunning that you will want to keep turning your back just to have another glance before you head back!
There is a superstition though that you shouldn’t look back while you are on the bridge. We just followed that advice in case it actually brings bad luck (´▽｀*).
Gōkei Valley’s Fall Foliage Season and What to Look Out for When You Are in the Valley
The autumn foliage season is usually between early to mid-November.
When you trek along the river, while we would love for you to just admire the colorful scenery around and above you, the road’s surface can be quite slippery, so be extra careful. Also, hold your camera and mobile phones tight so you don’t accidentally drop them into the Makidani River!
Summer at Gōkei
Whilst autumn is definitely the most popular season for visitors at Gōkei, the valley has another charm in June and early July. Because of its clean water, you can see numerous fireflies lighting up the valley at night!
Discover Other Scenic Spots in Sōja City
Gōkei isn’t the only breathtaking spot in Sōja City.
If you like to know where else to visit for stunning scenery close by, refer to our article on Sōja City!