The Best Known Waterfalls in Japan

While known as a place of deep-rooted natural beauty, Japan is also rich in falling water. Indeed Japanese waterfalls are amongst the most beautiful in the world. Want to know more? Read on.

Travel and Exploration
5 December 2022

Waterfalls have a special status within Japanese culture. And, with the staggering beauty of the waterfalls in Japan, this reverence is understandable. Few would fail to be awed by the towering falls that dot this island nation.

In this article, we explore the best known waterfalls in Japan. From the divine to the most beautiful, the remote to the urban, we’re looking at the best waterfalls Japan has to offer.

Nachi Falls, Wakayama Prefecture

Nachi Falls, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan (Photo: Lucia Terui via Getty Images)

At 436 feet high, Nachi Falls or ‘Nachi no Taki’ is the tallest single-drop waterfall in Japan. In addition to its natural beauty, this magnificent plunge waterfall is a holy place within the Shinto religion, believed to house a deity. As such, it is one of Japan’s most famous waterfalls and part of the UNESCO listing in the Kii Mountain Range.

Kegon Falls, Tochigi Prefecture

Kegon falls with a rainbow (Photo: Aneurysm via Getty Images)

Nikko National Park has many spectacular waterfalls, but Kegon Falls or ‘Kegon no taki’ is often cited as the most impressive. Many consider it amongst the most captivating of all Japanese waterfalls. Flowing from Lake Chuzenji, the waters of Kegon Falls tumble almost 330 feet in a stunning torrent.

Shōmyō Falls, Toyama Prefecture

Shomyo waterfall in Autumn at Tateyama National Park in Toyama. Japan (Photo: PRAWIT PARASIM via Getty Images)

Shōmyō Falls or Shōmyō-daki Shōmyō-daki is a horsetail waterfall, meaning the water keeps contact with the rocky surface as it descends. In the case of Shōmyō Falls, there are four drops along the way. At 1,148 feet high, it is the highest of all the permanent waterfalls of Japan. However, at a certain time of year, its sibling takes that crown.

Hannoki Falls, Toyama Prefecture

Between April and July of every year, Shōmyō Falls is unseated from its perch as Japan’s highest waterfall. It is at this time that the snow atop the Midagahara lava plateau melts and begins to flow, creating the 1640-feet high Hannoki Falls. The twin behemoth horsetail waterfalls flow side by side, Shōmyō to the left, Hannoki to the right.

Nunobiki Falls

On-taki, the largest waterfall in Nunobiki ravine, Kobe, Japan (Photo: Toru Kimura via Getty Images)

Japan’s seventh largest city is the incongruously urban home of the Nunobiki Waterfalls, known as Nunobiki no Taki. There are four waterfalls in all, of which Ontaki is the tallest at 140 feet.

Ryuzu Falls, Nikko

Ryuzu falls in Autumn, Nikko (Photo: kecl via Getty Images)

Just before the Yukawa River reaches Lake Chuzenji, one finds the double cascades of Ryuzu Falls. Its Japanese name, Ryūzu no Taki, translates as ‘dragon head waterfall’, which is what it’s said to resemble. Depending on the time of year, these falls can be surrounded by a riot of colour from the rhododendrons that bloom, especially between May and June. It is one of the most popular waterfalls Japan has to offer.

Fukuroda Falls, Ibaraki Prefecture

Famous Fukuroda waterfalls during autumn season (Photo: Jirobkk via Getty Images)

The town of Daigo is home to Fukuroda Falls or Fukuroda-no-taki. Tucked away in the town’s hillside, these falls of the Taki River are cited as one of the “Three Great Waterfalls” of Japan, alongside Nachi and Kegon Falls. Indeed, these four-tiered falls, rising to a peak of 390 feet, have a unique and changeable beauty. In the autumn, they flow amidst fiery colours, whilst the winter freezes them into a magnificent ice sculpture.

The Waterfalls of Japan

The waterfalls Japan has within its cities, forests and national parks are some of the most captivating on Earth. From roaring torrents to gentle cascades, the waterfalls of Japan are potent demonstrations of nature at its most powerful. We’ve outlined some of Japan’s most famous waterfalls, and it’s fair to say this selection alone provides an inspirational glimpse of Japan’s wealth of natural beauty.

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