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[Tarumae Garo Gorge in Tomakomai] Mossy Rocks Create Superb Views

July 30th, 2014

Tarumae Garo Gorge

Tarumae Garo Gorge (樽前ガロー) is a gorge in the western part of Tomakomai city. Garo means "A river flows between steep cliffs" in Tohoku dialect. The cliff face of volcanic ash deposition erupted by Mt. Tarumae (樽前山) was eroded by snowmelt, and banks turned into the steep cliffs with about 5-6 m in height because of a flowing river. This place is one of few moss gorge with fantastic views together with Moss Cave (苔の洞門) and Moss Corridor (苔の回廊), and different atmospheres such as fresh green, fall foliage and snow scenery can be enjoyed depending on seasons. A conbination of the flowing river and mossy rocks is very beautiful, and a lor of photographers come. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. But there is no facility, and is only nature.
Tarumae Garo Gorge Guide Map in Japanese

Mysterious Place
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge

The Tarumae Garo Gorge is not only a famous photogenic spot but also a psychic spot and a spiritual spot. In addition, here is a bear spot, too, beware of the bears. You had better not visit here in the early morning or the evening. This place is a spot stimulating an incentive to creation more for creators, and is a shooting spot for Pachelbel Canon. The Tarumae Garo Gorge is a king of spots, but I think that it is a little-known tourist attraction because few tourists come.

Movie of Pachelbel Canon

Moss Carpet
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge

The distance is around 20 km away from the center of the Tomakomai, and restaurants, cafes and a convenience store are not built around here. Small swamps are around here, so fishing is popular. Nishiki Onuma Park (錦大沼公園), Inkura Falls (インクラの滝) and the Mt. Tarumae are relatively near here. By the way, Speaking of tasty restaurants in the Tomakomai, Dip Soba Noodle "Sobana" (香るつけ蕎麦 蕎麦花), Marutoma Shokudo (マルトマ食堂), Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office (味の大王 総本店), Aji-no-Gojuban (味の五十番) and BBQpark Broiler (バーベキューパーク・ブロイラー) are popular in particular. I ate foods at the Marutoma Shokudo, the Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office and the Aji-no-Gojuban, and those were tasty.

Nishiki Onuma Park

Mt. Tarumae

Mt. Tarumae (樽前山) is an active volcano at an altitude of 1,041 m in the northwestern part of Tomakomai city, and is well-known as a symbol of the Tomakomai. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, the mountain adjoins Mt. Fushidake in the southwestern part of Lake Shikotsu, and is one of 3 major mountain around the Lake Shikotsu together with the Mt. Fushidake and Mt. Eniwadake. Volcanic activity has begined since about 9,000 years ago, and a lave dome called Tarumae Lave Dome (樽前ドーム) was born on the mountaintop when it erupted in 1909. The lave dome has been designed as the Hokkaido Natural Monument since 1967 because of new lave dome. The mountain is well-known for a triple volcano together with Mt. Hakone and Mt. Asama, too, and it is said that it is a rare volcano in the world. A parking lot is free of charge. Article is this

Lava Dome and Mt. Higashiyama
Mt. Tarumae in Tomakomai


Tomakomai (苫小牧) that 170,000 people live along Pacific Ocean is the fourth largest industrial city in Hokkaido, and is located in the central part of the Hokkaido. There are Oji Paper factory (王子製紙), petrochemical complexes and Tomato-Atsuma Thermal Power Plant, the largest thermal power plant in the Hokkaido. As for a climate, it is warmer than other places in Hokkaido in a summer or in a winter, and it features that the Tomakomai has less snow than other placess in the Hokkaido. Therefore skating as one of famous winter sports is prosperous, so ASIA LEAGUE ICE HOCKEY Team "Oji Eagles" is based in the Tomakomai. Because the Tomakomai is close to New Chitose Airport, and Tomakomai Ferry terminal is built, so the Tomakomai has traffic convenience. Article is here

Tomakomai Fishing Port and Marutoma Shokudo

Marutoma Shokudo

Marutoma Shokudo (マルトマ食堂) is a famous restaurant in Tomakomai city and was founded in 1970. There is a prosperity restaurant at a wholesale market near a fishing port. Visitors seem to line up at lunchtime. The appearance of a building is old, but I was overwhelmed on cards for autographs at the restraunt. I saw it was very popular restaurant after all. Article is here

Boiled Surf Clam Rice Bowl
Boiled Surf Clam Rice Bowl -Marutoma Shokudo in Tomakomai-

Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office

Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai head office (味の大王総本店) is a popular ramen restraunt in Uenae, Tomakomai city. There is a building near Lake Utonai. It is founded in 1965 and is known as an ancestor ramen restraunt that has begun to cook curry ramen in Hokkaido. Originally it was founded in Iwamizawa and was divided into Tomakomai and Muroran. Aji-no-Daio Muroran is famous, too, but it has no capital ties. Article is here

Curry Ramen
Curry Ramen - Aji-no-Daio Tomakomai Head Office in Tomakomai -


Aji-no-Gojuban (味の五十番) is a long-established ramen restraunt in Futaba-cho, Tomakomai city. A couple manages the restraunt and have been cooking ramen for nearly 30 years. It is known as a ramen with the tasty light taste. Because an electronic-the word of mouth was high, I visited here around 11:00 on weekdays. The restraunt opened at 11:00. I was the firstcomer. The ramen restraunt had an atomosphere such as a typical ramen restraunt. There were some tables, so family customers seem to enjoy. Article is here

Rich Taste Salt Broth Ramen with Fried Bean Sprouts
Rich Taste Salt Ramen with Fried Bean Sprouts -Aji no Gojuban in Tomakomai-

Tarumae Garo Gorge Trip

The gorge with about 5 m in height is not so large. The narrowest place of the river is about 1 m, and the widest place is about 10 m. A fantastic view is created by the moss. More than 60 types of mosses grow thick on the surface of the cliffs in a summer. It is just like a green carpet. 3 viewpoints are along the Tarumae River. Firstly, there is the viewpoint around 2nd Garo Bridge (第2ガロウ橋) along upper stream. Secondly, there is the viewpoint along midstream. Finally, there is the viewpoint around Garo Bridge (ガロウ橋) along down stream of the river. But walks are not built, so visitors must walk on paths like a animal trail. The viewpoint at the upper stream of the river is most dangerous place. A violent stream flows in the river width of about 1 m. It has the big height difference, and views are not so good. But the mosses look like a genuine carpet in the 3 viewpoints.

Upper Stream. Narrow Width of River and Rapid Stream
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
Slippery and Danger
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
Moss Carpet
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge

In the viewpoint along the midstream and the down stream, the visitors can go down the bottom of the river. But the cliffs are steep slope, and there might be a danger. You had better be safety with both hands freely, and had better wear comfortable shoes. But a wader is the most suitable for the photographers. Camera angles are limited on the shore, so a lot of the photographers find their favorite angles in the river. As for the rain boots, the river depth is deep unexpectedly, and the rain boots might soak wet from water. The gorge from the top looks just a narrow gorge thickly covered with trees, but I think that you are impressed with the fantastic view on the bottom of the river.

Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
Rock Faces
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
View from Top
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
Down Stream
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge
Down Stream
Tomakomai, Tarumae Garo Gorge

Atmosphere of Tarumae Garo Gorge Can Be Watched on Youtube


Movie of Tarumae Garo Gorge

Admission fee Free of charge
Parking lot Free parking is provided (30 Cars) * Or pull over to the shoulder
Business hours Open 24 hours
Regular closing day Open all year round
Telephone number +81-144-34-2000
Home page Home page is here
Mapcode 545 411 670*84

List of Accommodations

Refer to following websites for the accommodations around Tarumae Garo Gorge. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.

Smile Hotel Tomakomai(スマイルホテル苫小牧)
Comfort Hotel Tomakomai(コンフォートホテル 苫小牧)
Hotel Wing International Tomakomai(ホテルウィングインターナショナル苫小牧)
Tomakomai Green Hotel(苫小牧グリーンホテル)
Hotel Route Inn Tomakomai(ホテルルートイン苫小牧駅前)
Dormy Inn Tomakomai(ドーミーイン苫小牧)
Toyoko Inn Tomakomai(東横イン苫小牧駅前)
Hotel Sugita(ホテル杉田)
Business Hotel Motonakano(ビジネスホテル モトナカノ)
Grand Hotel New Oji(グランドホテル ニュー王子)
Hotel Okuni(ホテル於久仁)
Business Hotel Hachinohe(ビジネスホテルはちのへ)
Oyado Hishokan(おやど 翔馬館)
Hotel Nidom(ホテル ニドム)

A page of Tomakomai is here


A page of Shikotsu-Toya National Park is here

Shikotsu-Toya National Park



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