Sponsored by Toon City
About a 20 minute taxi ride from Yokogawara Station lies the majestic Shiraino Waterfall, which during the winter months of January and February becomes the ice cascades of Toon in Ehime Prefecture. The hiking trail leading up to the water can be a little hazardous during this time of year, but as long as you take your time and arrive well prepared, the reward at the end of the trail is well worth a bit of suspense.
The Trail to the Ice Cascades
At the base of Shiraino Falls you’ll find a small parking lot which acts as the start of the brisk hike up to the cascades. Here you find a bathroom, and a few park workers warning visitors to be careful of the ice which had built up on the trails. If you plan to visit this waterfall during winter, make sure that you bring the proper winter gear, it’s very easy to slip and fall as the ice tends to blend into the ground.
Useful Items Provided Free of Charge
Something I would recommend picking up, and something that I regret not having picked up myself, are these free bamboo walking stick; pictured above. That really makes a huge difference when you’re trying to stay on your feet on the icer sections of the trail. I had to make my own walking stick out of a broken tree branch after struggling half way up the mountain.
A Few Things to Notice While Climbing Up to Shiraino Falls
For the majority of the hike up to the ice cascades you’ll be surrounded by tall green trees, stone walls, and half frozen streams. But there are a few things along the way that worths noticing. The first being the design of the dam pictured above, which features carvings of fish, birds, and wild boar.
There is also a sizable flower garden after ascending the first set of stairs leading away from the parking lot. Although most of the flowers are still waiting for spring to arrive, I was impressed by the number of flowers that were able to bloom in such cold weather. This definitely looks like an area that would be great to visit in some of the warm months like spring or fall.
Tall Trees Guide You Along the Path
All along the trail leading up the waterfall you will be able to enjoy the scenic mountainside forest. If you’re lucky enough to visit the ice cascades when there’s snow on the ground, the white snow mixed with the greens and browns of the plant life make for a very unique landscape.
And of course where there is snow, there are snow men. There were a good number of locals hiking the mountain, and just as many snowmen lining the roads up to Shiraino Falls.
Below are a few of the photos I took while on my way to the ice cascades.
Finally, Ice Cascades
At last, after about a 40 minute hike, I arrived at the ice cascades! I’ve never seen anything quite like the Shiraino Falls Ice Cascades before. It was an absolutely beautiful feat of nature, with only a small stream of water flowing from the waterfall and adding to the large mound of snow below. What was once a massive waterfall had become a wall of icicles and snow. As awe inspiring as this scene is, I can’t help but wonder how the area would look during spring, summer, or fall. If you can’t make it to Toon during Japan’s winter months, I am confident that Shiraino Fall’s in Toon worth a visit at anytime of year!
Last stop, once you’ve reached the parking lot at the base of the mountain again, would be to get some delicious open from Shiraiya. This shop is a great place to stop by both before of after your trip up to the ice cascades. The shop owners are extremely friendly people, and there are a lot of useful items on sale in case you forgot a few things like water or snacks. Shiraiya is only a few seconds from the parking lot of Shiraino Fall heading back towards the city of Toon.
How to Get to the Ice Cascades in Toon, Ehime
From Matsuyama Station
Walk to Ootemachi Station (about 5 mins). Ootemachi Station – Yokogawara Station (30 mins). From Yokogawara about a 20 min taxi ride.