The Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝]; also Akiu Great Falls or just Akiu Falls) was a nice 55m waterfall on the outskirts of Sendai towards the northern part of Honshu in the Miyagi-ken (Miyagi Prefecture). It was said to be one of Japan‘s three most beautiful waterfalls though that could be debatable after what we had seen on the remainder of our 2009 Japan trip throughout the country. Still, this one was no slouch and it was the primary reason we visited the Akiu Onsen spa area in the first place. I’m guessing the name of the waterfall had something to do with Autumn since the first kanji character is Chinese for Autumn.
Fronting the entrance to the waterfall was a temple or shrine just beyond the Akiu Otaki bus stop and the torii at its entrance. From there, we took a short paved walkway that took us to a small viewing area. It was at this cozy viewing deck that we got ourselves a top down look at the Akiu Waterfall.
Beyond the viewing deck, there was a walking path that also linked this main viewing area complex to the main road. Turning to the left at that main road, we then crossed a bridge over the gorge on which the falls resided and onto another walkway towards the base of the falls.
Unfortunately, we only made it up to the barricade blocking further progress as unstable ground beneath the cliffhugging walkway forced its indefinite closure so we couldn’t get any other views of the falls besides the top down views of the main viewing deck. Thus, the only way to safely have a look at the falls from its base was from the pictures here or postcards sold here.
All told, we probably spent about 90 minutes to do all the walking plus have plenty of time to wait for the return bus (thanks to the trail closure).
We thought this waterfall was a little bit off the tourist path because we were slaved to the public transportation schedules. And the bus service to this area wasn’t all that frequent. See the directions below to get an idea of how we were able to pull this off.
It’s also worth noting that while we were basing ourselves at the Akiu Onsen, within walking distance was the Rairaikyo Gorge, which was a relaxing nature walk within a forested gorge area interspersed with interesting rocks and mini-cliffs. Inside the gorge itself, we encountered at least two small named waterfalls – Shigure-taki Falls (時雨滝) and Misuji-taki Falls (三筋滝).
The buses from the Akiu Onsen to/from Akiu Waterfall only leaves about 3 times a day on weekdays as well as on Sundays and holidays, and 4 times a day on Saturdays.
Just to give you an idea of the logistics behind our visit to the waterfall, it was as follows:
- Caught shinkansen from Tokyo Station (東京駅) to Sendai Station (仙台駅) on Tohoku Line at 7:36 arriving at 9:12
- Caught local bus from Sendai Station (仙台駅前) to Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉湯元) leaving at 10:39
- Dropped luggage at reception of accommodation in Akiu Onsen area before noon
- Caught local bus from Akiu Sato Center (秋保文化の里センター; walked from hotel) to Akiu Otaki (秋保大滝) at 13:16
- Caught local bus from Akiu Otaki (秋保大滝) to Akiu Sato Center (秋保文化の里センター) at 15:32
To give you some additional geographical context, Sendai was about 18km west of Akiu Onsen (over 30 minutes by car or a little over an hour by bus) and 368km north of Tokyo (over 4 hours by car or 1 hour 45 minutes by train). The Akiu Waterfall was about 14km west of Akiu Onsen (about 20 minutes by car or over 30 minutes by bus).
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