Geibikei Gorge, located in Ichinoseki city, Iwate, is a bit of a hidden gem in Japan. Not to be confused with a smaller attraction nearby named Gembikei, Geibikei Gorge is a 2 kilometer gorge carved out by the Satetsu River. The cliffs here are over 50 meters tall, and the scenery is beautiful. What makes this place even more special? You can take a boat ride that is powered by the boatman and a pole (think, Venice). The boatman will guide you past beautiful waterfalls, rock formations, and a limestone cave. At the half-way point, you can get off the boat and take a short walk. There is a hole in the cliff across the river, and there are stones for sale (5 for 100 yen). The stones have different fortunes on them. If you manage to throw your stone into the hole, you will have good luck.
Another wonderful aspect of this boat ride is feeding the fish and ducks. At the docks before you board the boat, you can purchase fish food for around 50 yen. Fish and ducks will follow you the entire way, acting as assistant tour guides.
Still not sold on this breath taking gorge? To top it all off, on the way back to the docks the boatman will sing a traditional Japanese folk song called, “Geibi Oiwake.”
The boat ride takes about 90 minutes and costs 1,600 yen per person. There are boat rides in all seasons, with winter including the choice of hot nabe (soup) and a kotatsu for your satisfaction. The hours of operation vary depending on the season: April through August: 8:30-16:30, September through October: 8:30-16:00, November through March: 9:00-15:00.
Access to Geibikei Gorge is fairly easy. From Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station. Then you can either take Bus 7 to Geibikei or the JR Ofunato line to Geibikei Station. From there, it is a short walk to the gorge.