The Shiraito Waterfall (Shiraito-no-taki [白糸の滝]; Shiraito Falls) and Otodome Waterfall (Otodome-no-taki [音止めの滝]; Otodome Falls) combo is another picturesque waterfalls duo in Japan that were memorable to us because of their unusually picturesque characteristics as well as for the the trouble we went through to access them.
The Shiraito Waterfall was different in that it was a very wide percolating series of weeping walls through moss and other foliage that stretched for such a wide width that there was practically no way any photograph could do it justice. The stitched photograph you see at the top of this page was our best attempt at capturing it, but even that didn't even show the the entire width of the overall waterfall. Adding to the allure of the scene was the deep green and blue of the water when the sun came out. Although the shops and cafes kind of took away from the peace and scenery of the area, it was still one of our favorite waterfalls in the country.
Meanwhile, the Otodome Waterfall was just a few paces walk before the Shiraito Waterfall, and this was more of a narrower, more classic waterfall as it plunged into an oblong plunge pool that also exhibited some of that greenish blue color we saw at the larger waterfall. This particular waterfall was a little less accessible in that I don't think there was a walking path to get right down into the gorge and plunge pool, and it was really more of a warm-up to the Shiraito-no-taki act.
The walk to get here from the bus stop (see directions below) took us roughly 20 minutes. It was pretty much all downhill on the way to the Shiraito Waterfall, but it was such a developed walkway that I'd hardly consider it a hike.
It began with us trying to follow the signs leading the way to the falls. After a few minutes, it ultimately led us to a side street that was flanked on one side by series cafes and ice cream stands while the other side was a stream.
Barely a few minutes beyond this initial set of shops, the path then hit another series of shops (this one contained more souvenirs and crafts than food), but these shops faced in the opposite direction as the first shops we passed by. And that was because they were facing the Otodome Waterfall where it was visible behind a protective railing lined in front of a couple of these shops. On its own, this waterfall could've easily occupied us, but we knew there was another one to see so we continued on.
Beyond these shops, we crossed over once more through more shops and cafes where they were primarily facing in the opposite direction again (i.e. the same direction as the first set of shops). This was when the shops started to thin out as the walking path descended down some steps. Right before the path descended in earnest, we could see the Shiraito Waterfall in the distance.
Once we made it down the steps and the sloping path, the length of the Shiraito Waterfall became apparent as we could already see parts of its percolating falls appear next to us before we even made it to the bottom of the descent by a bridge crossing over its stream. It was from this point forward that the falls lined almost uninterrupted to its main section at the head of the small gorge. There was another building nearby its pretty blue-green plunge pool that contained a handful more shops. But just beyond the end of the building was a main viewing deck as well as a short scrambling path to get right up to the pretty plunge pool.
Directions: This Shiraito Waterfall and Otodome Waterfall pair is located on the quieter western slopes of Mt Fuji.
It involved a bit of planning as buses quite infrequently go out that way (say around 5 times a day mostly concentrated between late morning and early afternoon) regardless of whether you're leaving from Kawaguchi-ko (where we were staying) or from Fujinomiya to the southwest of Fujisan. And given the trouble it took to get here, even the info center at the train station at Kawaguchiko recommended against doing this excursion, but I'm glad we did it anyways.
So given the nontrivial logistics we had to deal with, we'll try to break down how we managed to do it (keep in mind we were there in late May so the additional Summer routes weren't available).
Caught 9:40 bus at Kawaguchiko Station bound for Shin-Fuji Station
Arrived at Shiraito-no-taki stop at 10:32 and proceeded to sightsee
Caught 13:25 bus back to Kawaguchiko Station arriving at 14:25
Even though the itinerary above seemed real straight forward, what was difficult was trying to be flexible enough with our day to accommodate the bus schedule (that itinerary might have been the only way we could do it after studying the schedule for so long). Moreover, we were stressing about getting off at the correct bus stop since no English was spoken and all the signs were in kanji.