The combination of the Shiraito Waterfall (Shiraito-no-taki [白糸の滝]; Shiraito Falls) and Otodome Waterfall (Otodome-no-taki [音止の滝]; Otodome Falls) was one of the more unique waterfall duos in Japan that we encountered in our 2009 trip. This pair was memorable to Julie and I because of the trouble we went through to access them (it was a little off the beaten path) as well as some unique characteristics about them.
The Shiraito Waterfall especially 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'll see later on in this page was our best attempt at capturing it, but even that didn't show the the entire width of the overall waterfall. Although the shops and cafes kind of kept it from being completely naturesque and peaceful, it was still one of our favorite waterfalls in the country.
Adding to the scenic allure of the Shiraito-no-taki was the pool at its base, which exhibited some deep blue colors when the same came out. It certainly added a bit of color to the scene. And we noticed that the relative tranquility of this place attracted both families and groups of respectful elders alike to bask in the unusual waterfall attraction before us.
Meanwhile, the Otodome Waterfall was just a few paces walk before the Shiraito Waterfall, and this was more of a narrower, classical waterfall as it plunged into an oblong pool that also exhibited some of that greenish blue color we saw at the larger waterfall. To Julie and I, this was really more of a warm-up to the Shiraito-no-taki act.
A sign here indicated that this 25m falls meant "stop the sound" as an old legend here indicated that the Soga Brothers tried to silence the roar of the falls in order to have a moment of quiet and consultation before attempting a revenge killing of their father by a rival named Kudo Suketsune. We could've guessed the meaning of the word from looking at the kanji characters as well, where the first two characters also translated into "sound stop."
To Julie and I, the greater effort in experiencing this waterfall involved figuring out how to use the public transport from Kawaguckiko (where we were staying) to get here as a day trip. We'll get into the specifics of the logistics in the directions below.
As for the the walk to get here from the bus stop, it only took us roughly 20 minutes. The walk 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.
So the walk 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 a series of 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. 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 ahead of us.
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 tumbling next to us. We then still had to continue walking a short distance to reach the Takimibashi Bridge crossing over the stream of Shiraito-no-taki, and it was from this point forward that the falls lined almost uninterruptedly along the surrounding walls 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 and frontal view of the main part of the waterfall (see photo at the top of this page).
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 (河口湖, which was where we were staying) or from Fujinomiya (富士宮) to the southwest of Fujisan. So if we missed the targeted bus departure after lunch, we could've been stuck out here for a few hours.
And given the trouble it took to get here, even the info center at the train station at Kawaguchi-ko recommended against doing this excursion, but I'm glad we did it anyways.
So given the nontrivial logistics we had to deal with, the time table below breaks 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 Kawaguchi-ko Station (河口湖駅) bound for Shin-Fuji Station (新富士駅)
Arrived at Shiraito-no-taki (白糸の滝) stop at 10:32 and proceeded to sightsee
Caught 13:25 bus back to Kawaguchi-ko 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 Japanese kanji.
For additional context, Kawaguchi-ko was around 2.5 hours by bus or train (this route is not on JR network) from Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) in western Tokyo.
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