Kegon Waterfall (Kegon-no-taki [華厳の滝])

Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

Rating: 4     Difficulty: 1.5
Kegon Waterfall

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

As far as Julie and I were concerned, the Kegon Waterfall (Kegon-no-taki [華厳の滝]; also Kegon Falls) was the star natural attraction of the UNESCO World Heritage-laced town and area of Nikko.

Indeed, much of the attention drawn from Tourists tended to go towards the historical attractions within the Nikko town itself such as the Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, Taiyun Mausoleum, etc. Such structures showcased some well preserved wooden temples and treasures that have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

However, just out of town (reachable by the pretty convenient buses accepting the relatively reasonably-priced All Nikko Pass), we were able to make our way into the mountains near the Chuzenjiko (Lake Chuzenji), which drained into the towering 97m Kegon Waterfall - easily considered one of Japan's top 3 waterfalls.

The falls from the free viewing deck This waterfall consisted of a main plunge followed by extensive cascades further downstream that seemed to have just as much cumulative height as the main drop of the waterfall itself. I think the 97m measure pertained only to the main plunge, but I'm sure if someone wanted to give this waterfall the benefit of the doubt, it could've easily been more like 200m or so if one counted those downstream cascades.

First, we were able to get nice top down views of the Kegon Waterfall from the free viewing decks, which were just a few minutes walk from the Chuzenji Onsen stop (a huge parking lot for buses and cars). However, we thought it was well worth shelling out the extra yen for an elevator ride that took us down to the lower viewing decks for a more frontal view of the falls as well as the cascades below it. When we showed up in the morning on a sunny day, we were blown away by the nice bold rainbows arcing across the base of the falls.

When we peered towards the downstream side of the viewing deck, we noticed that there was also another notable cascade, which we think was named Nehan Waterfall according to a sign here. Actually, we're still not quite sure if that additional cascade we saw was the Nehan Waterfall or if it was even further below us on the same stream that the Kegon Waterfall was on.

Even though we only had time to get the main views of the Kegon Waterfall, we knew that there were other pretty majestic views and walkways to experience. The one in particular that I'm thinking of was based out of the Akechi-daira stop. I believe there was a cable car to the top of a hill where there was a viewing deck of both Chuzenjiko and the Kegon-no-taki as well as a 1.5km walk back down to the Chuzenji Onsen complex passing by a shrine and some fine views of Mt Nantai on clear days. The more I think about it, I wish we had made the time and do this extra option anyways. Oh well, maybe next time.

Overall, we spent about 30 minutes at the lower deck beneath the elevator ride. Given the limited ways to experience the falls from the viewing deck, that amount of time was plenty. We also spent another half-hour or so at the top before they finally opened up the elevator (because we showed up too early in the morning). In any case, our experience at the Kegon-no-taki was so impressive that we gave it a spot on our Top 10 Asia Waterfalls List.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Kegon Waterfall was near Nikko, which featured UNESCO World Heritage attractions like the Toshogu Shrine as well as the Taiyun Mausoleum, whose entrance was pictured hereKegon Waterfall was near Nikko, which featured UNESCO World Heritage attractions like the Toshogu Shrine as well as the Taiyun Mausoleum, whose entrance was pictured here
The Wise Monkeys of the Sacred Stables - i.e. hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. One of many attractions in Nikko's UNESCO World Heritage areaThe Wise Monkeys of the Sacred Stables - i.e. hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. One of many attractions in Nikko's UNESCO World Heritage area
The famous Shinkyo Bridge in NikkoThe famous Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko
Also in Nikko was the atmospheric (and eerie) line of statues of the Bake Jizo, which was near where we were staying on the outskirts of townAlso in Nikko was the atmospheric (and eerie) line of statues of the Bake Jizo, which was near where we were staying on the outskirts of town
This way or that way?This way or that way?

View of Kegon Waterfall from the free viewing deckView of the falls from the free viewing deck

In a worrying development, fog started rolling in and conspired to obscure the Kegon WaterfallIn a worrying development, fog started rolling in and conspired to obscure the falls

Fortunately, the fog cleared up soon thereafterFortunately, the fog cleared up soon thereafter

We saw this plaque with engraved kanji saying something though admittedly we didn't take the time to translate based on our limited knowledge of Chinese characters

What we think is the Nehan Waterfall, but we could be wrongWhat we think is the Nehan Waterfall, but we could be wrong

We noticed this cliff of basalt columns from the lower viewing deckWe noticed this cliff of basalt columns from the lower viewing deck

Direct look at the Kegon Waterfall with rainbow at its base from the lower viewing deckDirect look at the falls with rainbow at its base from the lower viewing deck

Closeup of the Kegon Waterfall with rainbowCloseup of the falls with rainbow

Nehan Waterfall signNehan Waterfall sign. Though to be honest, I'm not so sure we even noticed it!


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Looking down at the falls from the free viewing deck


View of the cascade and main waterfall with rainbow from the lower viewing deck


Not sure if this was the falls or not, but in either case, it was a decent cascade


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The Chuzenji-ko bus typically ran every half-hour. On the day we did it, we caught an early 6:35am bus in Nikko and arrived at the main Chuzenji-ko bus stop at around 7:30am or so.

We were able to save a significant amount of bus fare money by purchasing the All Nikko Pass (a-la-carte fares tend to add up real fast!), and this route was definitely part of the coverage area.

To get to the Nikko area, we came here from Sendai on a 9:26am train bound for Utsunomiya. Then, we barely caught a 10:40am train right to Nikko getting there around 11:30am. We had to walk from the JR station to the Tobu-Nikko Station where we got the local timetables and bought that important All Nikko Bus Pass.

On the way out, we caught a 6:46am train bound for Utsunomiya then connected from there at 8:10am and caught a shinkansen back to Tokyo (Shinjuku Station, I believe) getting there at around 9:45am.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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