Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝])

Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

About Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝])


Hiking Distance: about 400m round-trip (top); about 500m round-trip (bottom)
Suggested Time: about 30 minutes; about 30-45 minutes for bottom

Date first visited: 2009-05-23
Date last visited: 2023-07-21

Waterfall Latitude: 38.27496
Waterfall Longitude: 140.60294

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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 the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan though that could be debatable after what we had seen throughout the country over the years.

Akiu_045_05222009 - The Akiu Waterfall (or Akiu Great Falls)
The Akiu Waterfall (or Akiu Great Falls)

Still, this one was no slouch and it was the primary reason we visited the Akiu Onsen spa area in the first place during our initial visit to this part of Japan back in late May 2009 and then again in July 2023.

I’m guessing the name of the waterfall had something to do with Autumn since the first kanji character is Chinese for Autumn.

Experiencing the Akiu Great Falls – View from the Top

Fronting the entrance to the waterfall was a temple or shrine (said to be dedicated to Fudomyoo or God of Fire) just beyond the Akiu Otaki bus stop and the torii at its entrance.

From there, we took a short paved walkway that brought us to a small viewing area perched high across the Akiu Great Falls.

Akiu_060_05222009 - It can get a little busy at the main viewing area for the Akiu Waterfall
It can get a little busy at the main viewing area for the Akiu Waterfall

It was at this cozy viewing deck that we got ourselves a decent top down look at the waterfall as well as some of the surrounding mountains for context that supported the upper reaches of the Natori River.

For all intents and purposes, this is all there is to a visit to the Akiu Waterfall if you’re just content to be around the Fudoson Shrine and the waterfall’s lookout.

However, beyond the viewing deck, there was a forested trail that also linked this main viewing area complex to a local road leading to a bridge spanning the impressive gorge carved out by the Natori River.

On the other side of the bridge was the start of a steep walk down to the base of the Akiu Waterfall.

Akiu_Otaki_012_07202023 - Mom approaching the Akiu Fudoson Shrine or Chapel on the way to the overlook of the Akiu Otaki Falls
Mom approaching the Akiu Fudoson Shrine or Chapel on the way to the overlook of the Akiu Otaki Falls

We managed to do that aspect of the Akiu Great Falls experience as an extended walk, but we realized after the fact that it could have been much easier to just drive to the parking area across the road from its trailhead.

Experiencing the Akiu Great Falls – View from the Bottom

When we first visited Akiu Otaki in late May 2009, the path to the base was closed off due to damage on the trail resulting from landslides (this seemed to be a common issue at just about all Japanese Waterfalls).

It took 14 years before we finally had a chance to experience this aspect of the Akiu Waterfall (in July 2023).

Although you could drive right to the far side of the bridge over the Natori River to get started, we managed to do a 400m up-and-down hike plus 300m roadside walk to extend our visit from the Akiu Fudoson Shrine.

Akiu_070_05222009 - This was as far as we were able to go on our late May 2009 visit before the trail closure blocked further progress to reach the base of the Akiu Waterfall
This was as far as we were able to go on our late May 2009 visit before the trail closure blocked further progress to reach the base of the Akiu Waterfall

Once at the north end of the bridge over the Natori River, we then descended some steps before following a ledge that provided some teasing and unusual views of the Akiu Great Falls.

Eventually, we reached some steps that initially ascended before making a steep descent over steps alongside a rock wall that seemed to have lots of netting to control the inevitable rock fall here.

The descent went before a mostly-concealed side waterfall before requiring a slippery scramble on boulders to get a cleaner look at the base of the Akiu Great Falls throwing up a lot of spray.

We had to be very careful given the turbulence of the Natori River, but we were content with our views from the river’s banks (though there was a disturbing amount of litter left behind during our visit, which was quite unusual in Japan).

Akiu_Otaki_114_07202023 - Looking at the base of the Akiu Great Falls with a side stream coming in from the right
Looking at the base of the Akiu Great Falls with a side stream coming in from the right

Overall, the out-and-back upside down walk to the base of the falls and back took us around 45 minutes total while the 700m linking trail took us another 20-30 minutes or so (in each direction).

Experiencing the Akiu Great Falls – Mass Transit vs. Self-Driving

Our first visit to the Akiu Onsen and Akiu Otaki Waterfall took place via public transportation.

In that situation, we caught a shinkansen or bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai, and then we took a bus to the Akiu Onsen Resort before catching another local bus to the Akiu Otaki Waterfall.

Unfortunately, the bus service for this area (while possible) wasn’t all that frequent (think once every couple of hours or longer), and that didn’t exactly make for a peaceful visit (so as to not miss the next bus).

Akiu_Otaki_069_07202023 - Traversing the bridge over the Natori River on the way to the base of the Akiu Otaki Waterfall
Traversing the bridge over the Natori River on the way to the base of the Akiu Otaki Waterfall

However, when we came back 14 years later, we were wiser and self-drove to this location, where we were able to come and go at will.

Of course, freedom isn’t free in Japan, especially when you consider the pretty hefty road tolls involved in using their extensive expressway system.

Nevertheless, just even having the public transportation option just tells you how well-connected the Akiu Otaki Waterfall is as well as how close it was to the Sendai City Center (roughly 20-30 minutes drive).

See the directions below to get an idea of how we were able to pull off our visit via public transporation (as well as by self-driving).

Akiu_026_05222009 - The bus dropped us off right in front of the Akiu Otaki entrance (on our late May 2009 visit), and given its long interarrival times, we had plenty of time to check out the shrines here
The bus dropped us off right in front of the Akiu Otaki entrance (on our late May 2009 visit), and given its long interarrival times, we had plenty of time to check out the shrines here

It’s also worth noting that while we based ourselves at the Akiu Onsen, we were within walking distance of 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).

Authorities

The Akiu Waterfall resides in the Sendai area of the Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. It is administered by the Miyagi Prefectural Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) website.

Akiu_Otaki_008_07202023 - Getting an early morning start to our Akiu Otaki visit on a misty morning in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_009_07202023 - Going through the familiar torii gate on the way to the Fudoson Shrine and the Akiu Otaki Viewpoint in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_013_07202023 - A fountain where you can cleanse yourself (in some cases go for a drink?) before praying at the neighboring shrine at Akiu Otaki
Akiu_Otaki_015_07202023 - Approaching the Akiu Fudoson Shrine on the way to the lookout for the Akiu Otaki Waterfall in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_017_07202023 - Continuing beyond the Fudoson Shrine to descend towards the lookout for the Akiu Otaki Falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_020_07202023 - One of the inner altars flanking the Fudoson Shrine at the Akiu Otaki in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_022_07202023 - Looking towards one of the side shrines on the way down to the Akiu Otaki Waterfall
Akiu_Otaki_023_07202023 - Starting the descent to the lookout of the Akiu Otaki Falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_026_07202023 - Descending the steps to the lookout across from the Akiu Otaki in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_029_07202023 - Mom checking out the swollen Akiu Otaki during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_041_07202023 - View from the Akiu Otaki Lookout as seen in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_033_07202023 - Broad look down at the gushing Akiu Otaki Falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_028_07202023 - Looking towards a torii gate and the continuation of the trail leading closer to the bottom of the Akiu Otaki Waterfall as seen in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_052_07202023 - Given the amount of rain that had fallen throughout Japan over the past few weeks, it wasn't surprising to see standing puddles of water on this connector trail to reach the base of Akiu Otaki during our July 2023 visit
Akiu_Otaki_053_07202023 - Continuing on the rather up-and-down trail connecting the overlook of Akiu Otaki with the trail to the base of the falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_054_07202023 - Before the downhill, we had to sweat it out a bit with this muggy climb on the connector trail linking us up with the path to the base of the falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_059_07202023 - Walking among tall trees on the way down to the Akiu Otaki's base in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_061_07202023 - Descending our way to the local road and bridge spanning the Natori River in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_063_07202023 - The crew making their way along the local road towards the bridge over the Natori River during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_068_07202023 - Approaching the bridge over the Natori River in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_073_07202023 - Going across the impressive bridge over the Natori River on the way down to the base of Akiu Great Falls in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_076_07202023 - Teasing glimpses of the Akiu Waterfall from the bridge over the Natori River as seen in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_084_07202023 - Mom carefully descending these steps on the way down to the base of the Akiu Otaki during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_086_07202023 - Looking back at the bridge spanning the gorge carved out by the Natori River as seen in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_087_07202023 - Context of the Akiu Otaki Waterfall while we continued pursuing getting down to the waterfall's base in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_097_07202023 - Doing the steep descent to the base of the Akiu Waterfall in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_101_07202023 - At the base of the Akiu Otaki Waterfall where we had to navigate the slippery boulder jumble to get a clean look at it during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_129_07202023 - Josh and Soph having fun examining and chucking rocks before the base of the Akiu Waterfall during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_113_07202023 - Looking across some wet boulders towards the base of the Akiu Waterfall as seen in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_104_07202023 - With Japan being largely litter free, it was kind of disheartening to see how much litter was left around the base of the Akiu Otaki during our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_137_07202023 - After having our fill of the base of Akiu Otaki, it was time to climb back up the steps to regain the bridge over the Natori River to conclude our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_139_07202023 - You can see how much netting and reinforcement had been made over the years to keep this trail to the base of Akiu Great Falls open in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_144_07202023 - Approaching the bridge over the Natori River to conclude our visit in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_172_07202023 - Still not out of the woods yet (literally) as I had to regain the car first before driving to pick up the rest of the crew over by the trailhead for the Akiu Otaki in July 2023
Akiu_Otaki_182_07202023 - Back at the main car park for the Akiu Otaki as seen in July 2023
Akiu_004_jx_05222009 - We happened to catch a bus on the way to the Akiu Otaki from our accommodation in Akiu Onsen
Akiu_007_jx_05222009 - A facility near the entrance of the Akiu Otaki
Akiu_030_05222009 - A smaller side shrine we noticed inside the Akiu Otaki complex
Akiu_032_05222009 - View of the Akiu Waterfall from the main viewing deck
Akiu_041_05222009 - More offset view of the Akiu Otaki from the main viewing deck
Akiu_055_05222009 - Julie checking out the Akiu Otaki from the familiar viewing deck
Akiu_052_05222009 - We couldn't quite read this sign, but in hindsight we then knew exactly what they were talking about
Akiu_063_05222009 - Forest walk bridging the Akiu Waterfall complex with the main road as we pursued the path to get to the bottom of the waterfall
Akiu_064_05222009 - Looking up the gorge containing Akiu Waterfall from the road bridge
Akiu_065_05222009 - Signs fronting the trail leading to the bottom of the Akiu Waterfall
Akiu_068_05222009 - Stairs leading down to the trail to the base of the Akiu Waterfall
Akiu_078_05222009 - When we were back at the bus stop, we had time to explore the Akiu Waterfall complex for a bit and check out things like this shrine in the heart of the complex
Akiu_085_05222009 - Back at the torii fronting the entrance to the Akiu Waterfall complex
Akiu_001_05222009 - When we returned from the Akiu Waterfall adventure, we checked out the Rairaikyo Gorge inside the Akiu Onsen town
Akiu_093_05222009 - I believe this was the Shigure-taki Falls inside the Rairaikyo Gorge
Akiu_098_05222009 - Rugged rocky scenery within the Rairaikyo Gorge
Akiu_109_05222009 - I believe this was the Misuji-taki Falls inside the Rairaikyo Gorge
Akiu_114_05222009 - The walkway within the Rairaikyo Gorge
Akiu_117_05222009 - Another look inside the Rairaikyo Gorge as we explored a bit around the Akiu Onsen town


Since we visited the Akiu Waterfall both by public transportation as well as self-driving, we’ll describe how we managed to accomplish each way in this section of the write-up.

Driving to the Akiu Otaki Waterfall

From Sendai city center, we drove west on the Route 48 for roughly 16km as the expressway gave way to local streets.

Akiu_Otaki_001_07202023 - Over the years, it seemed like the car park for the Akiu Great Falls really expanded, which you can see here in this July 2023 photo
Over the years, it seemed like the car park for the Akiu Great Falls really expanded, which you can see here in this July 2023 photo

We then drove on the Route 457 for around 3.7km to its junction with the Route 62.

Next, we continued west on the Route 62 for about 7km before reaching the fairly big car park on the right.

Note that in order to drive to the car park across from the trailhead to the Akiu Great Falls’ base, there was an easy-to-miss turnoff 400m east of the big car park for Akiu Otaki and its neighboring Fudoson Shrine.

Once on this narrow, local (but paved) road, we then drove nearly 400m to the car park on the right just past the big bridge over the Natori River.

Akiu_Otaki_081_07202023 - We found out after the fact, but we easily could have driven to the trailhead leading to the base of Akiu Otaki instead of doing the 700m up-and-down walk to get to this point from the nearest viewing area by the Fudoson Shrine
We found out after the fact, but we easily could have driven to the trailhead leading to the base of Akiu Otaki instead of doing the 700m up-and-down walk to get to this point from the nearest viewing area by the Fudoson Shrine

Overall, this drive took us around 20 minutes.

Taking Public Transportation to the Akiu Otaki Waterfall

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:

  1. Caught shinkansen from Tokyo Station (東京駅) to Sendai Station (仙台駅) on Tohoku Line at 7:36 arriving at 9:12
  2. Caught local bus from Sendai Station (仙台駅前) to Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉湯元) leaving at 10:39
  3. Dropped luggage at reception of accommodation in Akiu Onsen area before noon
  4. 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
  5. 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
Akiu_002_jx_05222009 - The Akiu Grand Hotel was where we based ourselves when we made our visit to Akiu Otaki by public transportation
The Akiu Grand Hotel was where we based ourselves when we made our visit to Akiu Otaki by public transportation

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).

Find A Place To Stay

Long video showing the platform view of the falls from two different positions


Downstream to upstream sweep of the falls from the end of the trail to its base


Sweep of falls from a slightly less mistier spot panning from the bridge to the falls while showing kids chucking rocks


Bottom up sweep of the falls from the only place we were able to view the falls satisfactorily

Tagged with: miyagi, sendai, akiu, japan, waterfall, shrine, akiu onsen



Visitor Comments:

Got something you'd like to share or say to keep the conversation going? Feel free to leave a comment below...

No users have replied to the content on this page


Share your thoughts about what you've read on this page

You must be logged in to submit content. Refresh this page after you have logged in.

Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

If you have a waterfall story or write-up that you'd like to share, feel free to click the button below and fill out the form...

No users have submitted a write-up/review of this waterfall


Have you been to a waterfall? Submit a write-up/review and share your experiences or impressions

Review A Waterfall

Nearest Waterfalls

The Waterfaller Newsletter

The Waterfaller Newsletter is where we curate the wealth of information on the World of Waterfalls website and deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks in your email inbox. You'll also get exclusive content like...

  • Waterfall Wednesdays
  • Insider Tips
  • User-submitted Waterfall Write-up of the Month
  • and the latest news and updates both within the website as well as around the wonderful world of waterfalls


How To Build A Profitable Travel Blog In 4 Steps

Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.