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Yabakei Gorge, Ao-no-domon (Tunnel)
©AFLO, Nobuo Kawaguchi
Set among a series of steep cliffs, Ao-no-domon (Blue Tunnel) was formerly known as Kusarido-no-Nansho. The old name means that it was a dangerous path that people could traverse only by clinging to a chain strung from one side to the other. It is said that after a monk named Zenkai witnessed a traveler and his horse fall to their deaths on this path, his compassionate spirit drove him to dig the tunnel. With only a hammer and chisel, it took him 30 years to finish. Although most of the tunnel has since been rebuilt, you can still see some of the benevolent monk's chisel marks on the wall.
Sogi, Honyabakei-machi, Nakatsu, Oita
There is a ginkgo tree at the entrance of the tunnel, and the leaves turn a brilliant yellow in autumn.
Take a bus from JR Nakatsu Station, and get off at Ao-no-dokutsu bus stop. It is a 28-minute ride.
A 40-minute drive from Oita expressway Hita Interchange.
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