The Yu Waterfall (Yu-daki [湯滝]; also seen it spelled Yutaki, Yudaki and just Yu Falls) was a pretty unique-looking waterfall draining the lake Yu-no-ko by the Yumoto Onsen. The word "yu" was familiar to Julie and I because we had visited a few Japanese restaurants in Japan (especially ramen or udon joints) and realized from the menus that the word meant something like "hot water" or "soup".
This probably had to do with the lake Yu-no-ko having a bit of a sulphur smell as some of its expanse was geothermally heated from beneath as well as added to by other hot spring waters. For that reason, the Yumoto Onsen (湯元温泉), which was further upstream from the lake, was a pretty popular destination for those wanting to get a little further away from both Nikko and Chuzenji Onsen (中禅寺温泉). From the quantity of tourists riding in the bus with us all the way to the Yumoto Onsen, that seemed to support the notion that it was popular. That said, we didn't take the time to soak in the onsens here so we can't say more about them.
What really cracked me up about this waterfall was a sign at the car park that said something about appreciating its "feminine qualities." Even Julie got a real good crack up out of it. From looking at the photo above, we'll leave it up to you to figure out what they meant by it.
The way we experienced this waterfall was as part of a fairly long but pretty one-way walk starting from Yumoto Onsen and rejoining the bus just downstream near the car park for the Yu Waterfall. The intent was to build up the waterfall experience by absorbing the picturesque nature here before culminating in the waterfall itself. However, I must admit that we probably didn't have to go all the way to the Yumoto Onsen to start the walk.
In any case, we enjoyed the pleasurable hour-long walk around the Yu-no-ko to the top of Yu-daki. We noted that the lake drained into the waterfall itself. And after going down some steps and a couple of switchbacks, we ultimately made it to the viewing platform right in front of the Yu Waterfall, which happened to be crowded with Japanese students when we arrived. Overall, the experience was very relaxing, very peaceful, and very scenic. What more could you ask for?
But if you were so inclined to reduce the length of this 2-3km excursion, there's really nothing to stop you from doing it since they do have a bus stop right in front of the falls. In fact, had we visited the falls in this manner, then we probably would've given it a 1 instead of a 2 for difficulty rating. The higher rating reflected the fact that we took a much longer walking route to get here.
As for logistics, the buses from Nikko (日光) to Yumoto Onsen (湯元温泉) leave less frequently (roughly on the order of once every half-hour to an hour, which is still very reasonable) than the Chuzenji Onsen (中禅寺温泉) route. I think it was something like another 30- to 45 minutes to go from the Chuzenji Onsen stop all the way to Yumoto Onsen (though my notes were a little unclear about this). As for cost, this route is part of the two-day All Nikko Pass, which turned out to be a good value.
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