Shimon Tana Sawa

Located in Kanagawa the final 50 is worth the effort…

Canyon Magazine
Japan Trip Report
March 2015

When it’s drizzling rain, slightly cool air and the canyon you wanted to do descend looks like it won’t be possible, it’s always a good thing to have a backup! Shimon Tana Sawa in Kanagawa with only a short approach, ascent and descent on these cool autumn wintry days it proved itself to be quite spectacular. With the final abseil of around 50 metres, this was well on our list of places to have a look at although being only very short.

Located in the Tanzawa Mountain Range in Kanagawa, just 2 hours south from central Tokyo, Shimon Tana Sawa is a simple half day trip of around 3 hours with up to 7 different waterfalls to descend from 20m slabs to the final waterfall. As with all other rivers in this mountain range, there are pitons that have been left over the years by the sawanobori (river climbing) groups.

The hike in is fairly easy but find the way to the ridge line to enter was a difficult to find due to all the autumn leaves covering the trails. From the ridge line it’s about an hour walk in before you can drop in. You can keep on going and come in further up but it seemed to be not worth risking it considering the changing weather.

Shimon Tana Sawa is not one to do without having a good knowledge of anchor placement. taking a bit longer than normal, every time we descended a section, I would move on ahead checking and making anchors for the next section before even pulling down the ropes. One section we had all the ropes deployed on 3 sections as the rock was that crumbly it was difficult to place any anchors and with high walls, and no trees proved a good solving situation.


Using pitons were a lifesaver in this canyon and finding the old ones that have been so wedged in and using them as backups for our backups was a way to keep on moving downward and forward. We finally reach the ending section after 5 or 6 abseils and climb downs and from here there is no escape but down. The walls are too crumbly even attempt to climbing out.

At the second last waterfall of 10 metres we find a decent tree finally to scout the 50 metre Shimon Tana Fall. Thankfully just below there is a tree that has grown into the top of the falls that can provide a good anchor base. A fixed webbing anchor is installed and a good shake of the tree before heading on down to make sure it doesn’t pop out on me. Halfway down the falls, we find some really old rusted pitons from the sawanobori guys. Who knows how long they have been here.

After every one descended the rope pull down was gentle and slow. We dare not getting the rope stuck on the branches or anything else. A final goodbye to the Shimon Tana Falls and off we hike back through the forest for a well deserved hot bath and food. On the way back we all decided it’s definitely one to do again sometime in the future.