Wednesday, November 15, 2006

知床旅情(三)-雙瀑篇 A Journey to Shiretoko (3)-Twin Falls





落差50米的「オシンコシンの滝」是知床八景之一、日本百大名瀑之一,又稱「双美の滝」 (雙美瀑布),亦稱夫妻瀑布,原因是瀑布由兩道平行的瀑水組成。雨後的瀑布,更為壯觀,不單只瀑前揚起陣陣氤氳,原本並排的雙子瀑,已變成上半的三瀑和下半連成一幅的瀑水,就像一位在日本傳統「神前式」婚禮上的新娘,穿上潔白絲綢花嫁禮服「白無垢」,拖著裙擺緩步踏上神壇。

A Journey to Shiretoko (3) – Twin Falls

The weather in Shiretoko peninsula could change dramatically, jumping from sunshine to rainstorm in a few minutes’ time on my way to the youth hostel at Iwaobetsu. It was still rather cold in Hokkaido early in June. The mountains are still snow capped, and I could feel the chill even staying at low ground.

The youth hostel by the Iwaobetsu River bank at central Shiretoko could be reached by bus. Most parts of the peninsula were countrypark land, and traffic was under strict control. Except in July and August, there were very few bus services in the park each day. Lined by the shoreline cliffs, Shiretoko peninsula is a paradise of coastal waterfalls. Streams of the Shiretoko Mountains plunged down from the cliff tops before running into the sea. My original plan was to get off the bus and visit the Oshinkoshin Fall on my way to the hostel, and hopped on another bus one hour later. The bus moved on in the chilly rain. Just when I was hesitating on whether I should change my plan or not, a wide and roaring waterfall came into my sight through the window all of a sudden. This surely did helpe me to make up my mind.

The waterfall was located right beside the road. There were few visitors at the time, but they had all crowded into the souvenir shop. I was not planning to but anything so I just waited outside for the rain to stop, side-by-side with the fat cat which probably had just escaped from the over-crowded shop. The rain started to die down a bit. I took no time to waste and ran straight to the waterfall.

The 50-meter-high waterfall was one of the eight famous sights of Shiretoko and classified as one of the top 100 Japanese waterfalls. It is also known as the "Twin Beauty Falls" and "Husband-and-wife Falls" due to the two parallel water streams that made up the waterfall. After the heavy rain, the waterfall became even more spectacular, not only covered by the sprays sent out by the falling water, but the twin falls now transformed into triplets, with the lower parts merging into a lace curtain of water, resembling a Japanese bride at a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony on her pure white silk shiromuku (the traditional wedding kimono).
There was a trail leading uphill to another viewing platform for the waterfall, but I had to give up the side trip since the trail was extremely muddy and too much time had already been wasted on waiting for the rain to stop.

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