If one has been to a Waterfall, especially a great Big One …. one can feel or know that there is an impressive amount of energy generated about the waterfall! The refreshness of the air, the cooling gusts of wind with moist water droplets, all created by the impact of falling water on water from metres above. When and if the sun shines upon the waterfall, one might even be blessed with the sight of a rainbow on the waterfall! While photo does show the visual beauty of a great waterfall, it is nothing close to the personal experience of standing right in front of one! The feel … is just different.
[Shiraito Falls in Shizuoka Prefecture, by Sayumi. S]
As such, besides visiting the MUST-GO Onsens
heritage in Japan, depending on where you are in Japan, make time to go to one of these magnificent waterfall. It is Nature’s gift of dynamism and beauty! Every phase of season giving it a different look. From the energetic and flowering Spring, to the hot and green Summer, followed by the colorful and cooling Autumn, and finally by the white and possibly frozen or freezing Winter.
Being Japan, there is a ranking for almost everything. Waterfalls are no exception 😉 The Top 3 Waterfalls held in high regards and considered almost sacred are as follow:
[Kegon Falls, Nikko, by Bill Lowe]
Firm in the 1st place as the Top Waterfall in Japan, Kegon Falls is located at Lake Chūzenji in Nikkō National Park in the city of Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. There are about twelve smaller waterfalls situated behind and to the sides of Kegon Falls, combining to give it a majestic grandeur. It is considered also as one of Japan’s highest waterfall at 97m in height. In Autumn, there can be alot of people crowding to catch a glimpse of this majestic falls amidst autumn colors. But do be aware that during rainy days, the view could become rather misty-like.
[Nachi Falls by Seiganto-ji temple, an UNESCO Heritage Area, by Jatenipat Ketpradit]
Ranked the second best Waterfall in Japan, Nachi Falls is located by Seiganto-ji Temple, south of Wakayama prefecture. It is a straight waterfall from Mount Nachi, measuring 133m tall and the tallest waterfall of its type! From the base, the impact of the water falling is nothing short of “WOW” … Impressive! Being one of the ancient pilgrimage routes as well as an area of historical and religious significance, this entire area is classified as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
[Fukuroda Falls in Autumn, Ibaraki Prefecture by Joel Durkee]
Located at Fukuroda, Ibaraki prefecture, Fukuroda is one of the hot favourites among locals and tourists. While it might not be the tallest at 120m, it is a unique 4-step waterfall with an awesome view during Autumn season as seen above. In winter, the waterfall freezes up, presenting an opportunity for the more adventurous souls to ice-climb 🙄
These is 1 other Waterfall that seemed to have made it officially or non-officially among the top as well … something worth looking out for even if it is not official haha!
[Shomyo Falls & Hannoki Falls, by EBA]
Shomyo Falls & Hannoki Falls, located in Tateyama, Toyama prefecture … standing at 350m tall for Shomyo, a 4-step waterfall (the 2nd tallest waterfall … 1st sometimes). The twin fall beside, Hannoki stands even taller at 497m high but it is only sometimes the tallest waterfall. Surprising huh? Hannoki is not always flowing. Only when snow melts during Spring or right after a particular heavy downpour does it appears. Then it will come as an impressive Twin Waterfall from its fantastic height, generating a cloud of tiny droplets into visiting tourists. And probably a rainbow like the photo above if sun chances upon it. Wonderful!
Being “accredited” the Top 3 plus 1 Waterfalls, it should not be unexpected to see crowds of people, difficulty in parking for those that drive during peak seasons and probably other problems related to crowds like insufficient resting places, queuing for eateries etc. Fear not! There are still 97 other spectacular waterfalls rated among Japan’s Top 100 Waterfall (日本の滝百選 Nihon no taki hyakusen), a list compiled by the Japan Ministry of Environment in 1990s. I will throw in some names that too corresponds to the area of the Top Onsen towns in Japan. Isn’t that a perfect combination? Waterfall and Onsen … 😎
Do note that the lists below isn’t totality of all the 100 Top Waterfalls. What I didn’t put herein, doesn’t mean it isn’t in the Top 100. It just means that I didn’t put it 😀 But if anyone feels strongly about a good waterfall that should be in, just gimme a ring (email me that is haha!) and I will do an update.
Top 100 Waterfalls in Japan (East)
|Name of Waterfall||Region / Area||Description
|Jōfu Falls (常布の滝)|
|Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture||Located in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, this waterfall is about 40m high and very unique with its surrounding red rocks. It used to be called a secret waterfall because it is one of the hardest waterfalls to see in the Kanto Region, located deep in the side of Mt. Shirane. By trekking it would still take awhile. By car would be fastest.
|Hayato Great Falls (早戸大滝)|
|Sagamihara, Kanakawa Prefecture||Because it is located deep inside Mt. Tanzawa, not many people visit this fall. One of the unique feature of this fall is the gigantic rock covering the front side of the fall. You can only see the fall in its full glory at the bottom of the fall.
While it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, it is also the hardest one to get to. There are few track markers and river trekking is also required. Because of slippery rocks, wrong footwears could result in a fatal fall off the cliff or into the river easily. This waterfall is not suitable for children. And avoid trekking to the fall after a heavy rain due to fast and dangerous water flow in the river.
Additionally, there are also wild bears abound. If making your way here, it would be better to trek in at least a pair and preferably with someone who is familiar with this area.
|Shasui Falls (洒水の滝)|
|Yamakita, Kanakawa Prefecture||It's also chosen as one of the 50 best sight-seeing spots in Kanagawa. It is about 350 feet in height. The waterfall is very famous for religious events. During July, there is a big festival known as Fire Festival held by the waterfall.
|Ryūsei-Ginga Falls (流星・銀河の滝)|
|Kamikawa, Hokkaido Prefecture||Located in Sounkyo, one of the largest canyons in Japan, formed by Ishikari River digging through the Daisetsuzan Mountains, two of the most beautiful falls are Ginga No Taki and Ryusei No Taki. Ginga No Taki is a graceful waterfall with water flowing like white threads, while Ryusei No Taki shows a robust appearance with water strongly falling about 90m. The falls are also referred to as Otoko Taki (male waterfall) and Onnna Taki (female waterfall) for their contrasting appearance, and also jointly as Meotodaki (meaning "husband and wife waterfalls").
|Ashiribetsu Falls (アシリベツの滝)|
|Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture||Located in Saporro within Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Ashiribetsu Falls is very attractive during winter due to its almost frozen water that gives it a magical yet dynamic look with water flowing among frozen ice.
|Shiraito Falls (白糸の滝)|
|Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture||Located on the west side of Mt.Fuji, Shiraito Falls is about 60 feet tall and 600 feet width. There are hundreds of small waterfalls and each of them look like a silk line. Shiraito also means Silk thread, depicting this beautiful white water silk-like curtain. Its water flow comes from the ice of Mt. Fuji. Otodome Waterfall is right next to it.
|Jōren Falls (浄蓮の滝)||Itō, Shizuoka Prefecture||It is located on the middle of Izu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Joren waterfall was formed from lava by the volcanic eruption. In the immediate vicinity, one could see lava rocks about. This area is also famous for its tasty wasabi because of the cold and pure water from the fall.
|Nanataki Falls (七滝)||Kosaka, Akita Prefecture||Located at the Hachimantai district of Kosaka, Akita Prefecture on the Kosaka branch of the Yoneshiro River, Nanatsu Falls has a height of 60 meters, broken into a series of seven cascades.
|Chagama Falls (茶釜の滝)||Kazuno, Akita Prefecture||Chagama Falls is a waterfall in the Hachimantai district of Kazuno, Akita Prefecture. It is 100 meters is height. The falls is remotely located on the Yoakeshima branch of the Yoneshiro River, requiring a hike of 5.5 kilometers across very rough terrain to reach.
|Yonako Daibakufu Falls (米子大瀑布)|
|Suzaka, Nagano Prefecture||It is located in Suzaka, Nagano. Yonako Falls is inclusive of Gongen Falls and Fudo Falls. Gongen Falls ( 権現滝) is 75m high and Fudo Falls (不動滝) is 85m high. It is very rare to have two tall waterfalls located right next to each other. In October, it also has beautiful Autumn leaves around the falls. These waterfalls are located at a huge caldera where water fall into the caldera. This caldera is also one of three major calderas in Japan.
|Sanbon Falls (三本滝)||Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture||Sanbon means three. Because there are three different waterfalls in this one spot, as such they are named Sanbon Falls. All of them are about 50m to 60m high. The right waterfall, Kuroisawa Falls, has water sliding down from the huge black lava rock. The center falls is called Honsawa Falls because it is located on the Kooono River. It is also a straight waterfall. The left falls is Mumei falls. Mumei means unnamed because the river it flows is unnamed. These falls are designated as the landscape of Nagano prefecture.
|Akiu Great Falls (秋保大滝)||Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture||Located in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. It is 55m tall and 6m wide. Akiu Falls was a sacred spot found by Priest Jigaku. Today it is designated as a National Park of scenic beauty with great colours during Autumn.
|Namekawa Great Falls (滑川の大滝)||Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture||Located in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture. Its altitude is about 860m from the sea level. It is 80m tall and 40m wide, making it one of the largest waterfalls in the Tohoku region. Do note that one has to cross the river in order to see this waterfall.
|Nanatsu Falls (七ツ滝)||Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture||Nanatsu Falls is located Tsuruoka, Yamanaga prefecture. It is a 90m tall falls with many small waterfalls combines into one large waterfalls.
Top 100 Waterfalls in Japan (West)
|Name of Waterfall||Region / Area||Description
|Uba Falls (姥ケ滝)|
|Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture||This is very popular waterfalls of Hakusan. The height of the falls is about 111m. There is also an Onsen at the bottom of the falls. Named after the old woman Sennin combing her hair under this waterfall, the path of the water resembles just like her white hair.
|Neo Falls (根尾の滝)|
|Gero, Gifu Prefecture||It is located in the Gifu Prefecture. It is 5m wide and 63m high. Because of its serene scenery of a huge waterfall together with giant rocks, many people have visited it since Edo period.
|Hirayu Great Falls (平湯大滝)|
|Takayama, Gifu Prefecture||Located Okuhida, Gifu prefecture. It is 64m high and 6m wide. This waterfall has seasonal aspects to it. In Spring to Summer, it has beautiful green foliage. In Autumn, it will be surrounded by wonderful autumn colours. In winter, this fall will become frozen. In February, there is also a light-up for this waterfall.
|Harafudō Falls (原不動滝)||Hyōgo, Hyōgo Prefecture||This is 3-step waterfalls and 88m high.At the bottom of the falls, there is yet another waterfall joining it from the side. The observatory on the suspension bridge provides a great view of this waterfalls.In Autumn, this waterfalls is surrounded by beautiful Koyo (Colored Leaves). There are also many beautiful waterfalls around this falls.
|Tendaki Falls (天滝)|
|Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture||It is a straight waterfall of about 98m tall. Tendaki Falls is the main feature of Tendaki Valley. This valley also has many other beautiful waterfalls. Ten means the heaven. It was named because of its great height. Tendaki is also one of the Tajima Three Major Falls.
|Minoo Falls (箕面滝)|
|Minoh, Osaka Prefecture||This beautiful waterfall Minoh Falls, 33 metre high and 5 metre wide, looks much higher than it actually is. Located in Osaka, during autumn, the surrounding area by the waterfall is also wonderfully colored.
|Somon Falls (双門の滝)|
|Tenkawa, Nara Prefecture||Somon Falls located in Tenkawa, Nara Prefecture is another waterfall that is very difficult to access including challenging trekking routes, not suitable for children. It would be much safer to view from a distance from Takimi terrace.
|Fudōnanae Falls (不動七重滝)|
|Shimokitayama, Nara Prefecture||Located in Yoshino Kumano National Park, Nara Prefecture, Fudonanae Falls is a beautiful seven-tiered waterfall.
|Kuwanoki Falls (桑ノ木の滝)|
|Shingū, Wakayama Prefecture||Located in Shingu, Wakayama Prefecture. It is about 21m tall and 8m wide.
|Yonjyūsanman Falls (四十三万滝)|
|Kikuchi, Kumamoto Prefecture||This waterfall is located in Kikuchi Valley, Kumamoto Prefecture. It is also a renowned location for its Autumn Colors.
|Sendantodoro Falls (栴壇轟の滝)|
|Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture||Located in the Kyushu Sanchi Highlands Quasi National Park, it is one of the highest falls in Kyushu, with a cold swimming hole at the bottom.
|Higashishiiya Falls (東椎屋の滝)|
|Usa, Ōita Prefecture||Formed with lava, it is one of Usa's three great waterfalls and scenery of Yabakyo. This waterfall, 85m tall straight falls, is also known as Kegon Falls of Kyushu.
|Harajiri Falls (原尻の滝)|
|Bungo-ōno, Ōita Prefecture||Located in Oita, Harajiri Falls runs from the Ogata River. It is 20m tall and 120m wide. Usually, water flows gently over the rocks. However after a heavy downpour, this falls will turn into the Asian version of a Niagara Falls!