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【1-Day Autumn Trip】 Exploring Three Grand Falls in Japan’s Oku-Nikko Area

Nikko City in Tochigi is a place that is very popular as a sightseeing destination for school field trips and other tours. The Oku-Nikko area, a district beyond Nikko that is accessed through Irohazaka (a winding slope), is home to three great waterfalls – Kegon no Taki (Kegon Falls), Ryuzu no Taki (Ryuzu Falls) and Yudaki (Yudaki Falls). This area is known as the strongest power spot in the Northern Kanto region, and is famous as a momiji (autumn foliage) spot, too. Below are tips on exploring the three waterfalls in Oku-Nikko, centering on Yudaki, and the recommended spots around them!

Be Moved by the Beauty of Nature at Kegon Falls – the Face of Nikko – and Lake Chuzenji

First of all, visit Kegon Falls that is considered as the representative sightseeing spot of Nikko. Known as one of the three greatest waterfalls in Japan, Kegon Falls is characterized by the stunning way the water of Chuzenjiko (Lake Chuzenji) streams down from a 97m cliff. If you use the elevator, you will be able to get close enough to observe the basin under the waterfall. There’s no doubt that you will be fascinated by the powerful production created by the water!

Once your heart calms down from the dynamic falls, head to the next spot: Lake Chuzenji. This lake is also a familiar and beloved spot in Nikko, but when you get there, do not limit yourself to just looking at the water. Try cruising the lake in style! The Chuzenjiko Cruise operates the Meisho-mawari, which is the regular service that will take you around the famous spots surrounding the lake, and the Momiji-mawari, which is the irregular service that only runs during the momiji season until late October. Get on this cruise and marvel at the sight of the vibrant and colorful leaves as they are reflected on the lake. Passage fare is 1,250 JPY for adults.

Kegon Falls

Chugushi, Nikko-shi, Tochigi

Have a French Lunch Near Lake Chuzenji and View the Autumn Leaves at Ryuzu Falls

After enjoying a cruise on the lake, head to the nearby French restaurant for lunch. At Chez Hoshino, you will be able to savor dishes that incorporate generous amounts of Tochigi-produced ingredients, such as nijimasu (rainbow trout) from Lake Chuzenji and yuba (tofu skin), which is the specialty of Oku-Nikko. This restaurant offers a la carte dishes and prepared courses for lunch and dinner.

When you’re done having lunch, go on a side trip to Ryuzu Falls. This is a waterfall that flows on top of lava that was created when Mt. Nantaisan erupted. The massive rock near the plunge basin divides the water, making it look like the head of a dragon. This is where it got its name “Ryuzu” (literally means “head of a dragon”). The best time to come here is during autumn so you can enjoy the autumn foliage!

If you suddenly feel like having some tea, then drop by Ryuzu no Chaya – the perfect rest area right in front of Ryuzu Falls. Here, you can eat light dishes, such as its specialty, Ozoni (a soup with rice cake and other ingredients that is typically eaten during New Year) (600 JPY), while gazing at the falls. There are also many Nikko specialty products here, so it’s the best place to go shopping for souvenirs, too.

Ryuzu Falls

Chugushi, Nikko-shi, Tochigi

End the Oku-Nikko Falls Tour With Yudaki – the Top Destination in the Trip

As your final stop, go to Yudaki Falls, which is the top destination in this trip. A waterfall measuring 70m in height and 110m in width, Yudaki Falls is said to be one of the three great waterfalls in Oku-Nikko, along with Kegon Falls and Ryuzu Falls. There is a promenade at this waterfall that will let you look at the plunge basin and mouth of the falls, as well as the side of the falls, up close. The thrilling sight will definitely awe you. In autumn, the view of the falls fused with the momiji trees that are covered in brilliantly colored leaves is so wonderful that you'd want to look at the horizon forever.


Yumoto, Nikko-shi, Tochigi

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 10.26.2017]

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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