Amida Waterfall (Amida-ga-taki [阿弥陀ヶ滝])

Gujo / Takasu / Shirotori, Gifu, Japan

About Amida Waterfall (Amida-ga-taki [阿弥陀ヶ滝])


Hiking Distance: 1.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-10-22
Date last visited: 2016-10-22

Waterfall Latitude: 35.95974
Waterfall Longitude: 136.81775

The Amida Waterfall (Amida-ga-taki [阿弥陀ヶ滝]; or Amidagataki, Amidaga Falls, or just Amida Falls) was kind of our waterfalling excuse to take a quick detour as we were making the long drive from Takayama to Inuyama.

Included as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls, it was said to be 60m tall and 7m wide, which statistically would have similar dimensions to say Hirayu Great Falls (also in the same prefecture).

Amida_Falls_083_10212016 - Amida Waterfall or Amidagataki
Amida Waterfall or Amidagataki

However, it seemed like Amida Falls took on a more slender appearance during our early morning visit.

Nomenclature

My parents translated the name of the waterfall in kanji directly into Chinese and thought it meant the “God Bless Waterfall”.

Corroborating the religious association with this waterfall, we saw an alcove with shrine-like statues behind the misty base of the falls.

There also appeared to be other religious infrastructure like a small shrine along the trail as well.

Amida_Falls_054_10212016 - Shrine-like statues positioned in a misty alcove adjacent to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki)
Shrine-like statues positioned in a misty alcove adjacent to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki)

Dad gleaned from the signage here (none of which were in English) that the way the waterfall struck rocks at the bottom somehow resembled Buddha in prayer position.

At least that was his theory about the reasoning behind the name of this falls.

In a different literature, a priest named Taicho originally named the falls the Long Falls when he found it in the year 723.

However since then, Buddhist monks were said to have practiced at this waterfall.

Amida_Falls_106_10212016 - Looking back across the Maedanigawa towards some kind of shrine along the trail to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki)
Looking back across the Maedanigawa towards some kind of shrine along the trail to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki)

Apparently in the 15th century, one such priest found enlightenment and thus named this the Amida Waterfall.

Depiction in a Literary Work

Perhaps the Amida Waterfall ought to be more recognizable to a wider audience because it was famously depicted by Katsushika Hokusai.

He was an influential and prolific artist of the Edo Period in the early 19th century.

His work “Amida Waterfall on the Kiso Road” (木曾路ノ奥阿弥陀ケ滝 or Kisoji no oku amida ga taki) was said to have been produced around 1832.

Amida_Falls_007_10212016 - A map sign greeting us at the start of the walk to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki). Note the drawing on the topright, which was the famous work by Katsushika Hokusai
A map sign greeting us at the start of the walk to the Amida Waterfall (or Amidagataki). Note the drawing on the topright, which was the famous work by Katsushika Hokusai

It depicted the waterfall coming from a halo or “round eye” of light with a couple of onlookers enjoying the scene.

That halo was said to have come from Amida, the Buddha of Boundless Light, which could be yet another reinforcement of the name of the waterfall.

In fact, one of the map signs we saw along the trail even had such an image appearing on it.

Experiencing the Amida Waterfall

We experienced the Amida Waterfall by going on a pretty straightforward 1.4km loop hike.

Amida_Falls_020_10212016 - Dad on the walk to the Amidagataki, which went past this shrine along the way
Dad on the walk to the Amidagataki, which went past this shrine along the way

We went in a counterclockwise direction so we ended up ascending a few steps as the trail went high enough to hug ledges and slopes fairly high above a tributary of the Maedanigawa.

After passing by a little shrine as well as a lookout shelter, we then reached a small bridge where we managed to get direct looks at the Amida Waterfall.

A slippery and wet spur path on the right led up to the plunge pool of the falls adjacent to some alcove decked out with little statues.

On the other side of the bridge, we got a different angled look at the waterfall, but the rocks here seemed to be even more slippery and somewhat dangerous.

Amida_Falls_069_10212016 - Angled view back towards the Amida Waterfall from one end of its spur around the Maedanigawa
Angled view back towards the Amida Waterfall from one end of its spur around the Maedanigawa

After having our fill of the Amida Waterfall, we then returned to the trailhead on the opposite side of the stream where we managed to get closer to a few intermediate cascades along the way.

Overall, our hike took about an hour though we had spent lots of time admiring the falls.

So perhaps the actual time spent hiking would be a bit less than that.

Authorities

The Amida Waterfall resides near Gujo of the Gifu Prefecture, Japan. It is administered by the Gifu Prefectural Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.

Amida_Falls_006_10212016 - Mom checking out an attractive cascade beneath a bridge by the start of the walk for the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_008_10212016 - We did the Amigataki loop hike in a counterclockwise manner so that meant we had to get most of the climbing done up front as we went up steps like this as well as a few switchbacks
Amida_Falls_009_10212016 - Looking back towards the bridge and the building by the trailhead for the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_010_10212016 - As we made our climb, we got this look back down across the red bridge spanning the stream responsible for the Amida Falls (Maedanigawa)
Amida_Falls_011_10212016 - During the ascent to the Amidagataki Waterfall, we saw this spring or pool of water with some spoons by it suggesting that perhaps you can 'cleanse' yourself or even drink from it?
Amida_Falls_013_10212016 - Mom and Dad continuing on the walk leading to the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_015_10212016 - The Amida Falls Trail followed this forested area after the ascent flattened out
Amida_Falls_016_10212016 - Looking way down at some intermediate cascade on the Maedanigawa on the way to the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_018_10212016 - Mom and Dad continuing on the pleasant forested walk leading to the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_023_10212016 - Looking up at some thin-flowing cascade nearby a shrine seen on the way to the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_025_10212016 - Approaching the Amida Falls fronted by this rock-etched sign
Amida_Falls_026_10212016 - Looking ahead at the Amidagataki Waterfall as Mom and Dad go ahead for a closer look
Amida_Falls_029_10212016 - Context of the walkway leading us closer to the bottom of the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_031_10212016 - This fellow was flying a drone during our visit to the Amidagataki Waterfall, but he somehow crashed it and that was the end of that
Amida_Falls_032_10212016 - Signage about the Top 100 Japan Waterfalls fronting the tall Amida Waterfall
Amida_Falls_037_10212016 - Cleaner look at the Amidagataki Waterfall and its plunge pool
Amida_Falls_042_10212016 - Angled look right up towards the top of the Amida Falls as I took the slippery ascent up closer to an alcove containing some statuettes
Amida_Falls_056_10212016 - Context of Dad carefully making his way back down the slippery path from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_059_10212016 - Closeup look from the bridge over the Maedanigawa towards the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_079_10212016 - Another contextual look back towards the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_086_10212016 - Still another look at the Amidagataki Waterfall from the opposite side of the Maedanigawa
Amida_Falls_088_10212016 - Checking out the Amida Falls from the other side of its rocky plunge pool as far as I was able to make the slippery and wet climb on the boulders there
Amida_Falls_090_10212016 - Looking downstream from the base of the Amida Waterfall
Amida_Falls_094_10212016 - Looking further downstream from the other side of the Maedanigawa as I walked the other side of the loop hike from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_096_10212016 - Last partial look back at the Amidagataki Waterfall as I was making my way back to the trailhead
Amida_Falls_097_10212016 - Looking up at some kind of lookout shelter or something on the way back from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_102_10212016 - Context of the walkway on the opposite side of the Maedanigawa back towards the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_103_10212016 - Last direct look at the Amida Waterfall before heading back to the car park
Amida_Falls_104_10212016 - Heading back on the other side of the loop walk from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_110_10212016 - Looking down at some kind of intermediate waterfall on the way back from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_119_10212016 - A closer look at an intermediate cascade on the Maedanigawa as we were heading back to the trailhead after having had our fill of the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_124_10212016 - The return hike on the other side of the Maedanigawa from the Amidagataki Waterfall wasn't all downhill as I had hoped
Amida_Falls_127_10212016 - The interesting twisting intermediate cascade on the Maedanigawa as seen on the way back from the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_131_10212016 - Mom forging ahead as she was getting near the trailhead for the Amidagataki Waterfall
Amida_Falls_135_10212016 - Just about back at the Amida Falls car park to end our excursion

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Since we visited the Amidagataki (or Amida Waterfall) from Takayama and next went to Inuyama, this will be how we’ll describe the directions.

These are by no means the only ways to get to Amida Falls, but it should give you a pretty good idea of which exits from the expressway to take as well as how to navigate up to the car park.

Driving from Takayama to the Amida Waterfall

From Takayama, we drove north on the Route 41 before hopping on the Takayama West Expressway.

We followed this high speed toll road for about 17km to its junction with the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway.

We then followed the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway south for about 32km before getting off at the Takasu IC exit.

Amida_Falls_003_10212016 - At the start of the walk to the Amida Waterfall, where we saw one car park this far up the narrow road
At the start of the walk to the Amida Waterfall, where we saw one car park this far up the narrow road

Next, we headed northwest on the Route 45 towards the Route 156 at Takasu.

Turning left onto Route 156, we then took this road for about 4km to a signposted turnoff to our right just before a bridge over the Nagara River (or Nagaragawa).

Once on this turnoff, we drove another 400m more before turning right (by now Amida Falls signs were present).

Then, we continued following the signs as we pursued this road for just under the next 3km before keeping left at the fork and driving the remaining 500m or so to the car park and trailhead.

Amida_Falls_004_10212016 - Looking back at a couple of cars that managed to park pretty far up the narrow road leading up to the start of the walk to the Amidagataki Waterfall
Looking back at a couple of cars that managed to park pretty far up the narrow road leading up to the start of the walk to the Amidagataki Waterfall

Overall, this drive took us about 75 minutes to cover the 63km or so.

Driving from Inuyama to the Amida Waterfall

Coming from the other direction in Inuyama, which is just north of Nagoya, we would make our way to the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway and head north.

This was a high speed toll road, where we’d persist on it for about 68km to the Shirotori IC exit.

Then, we’d make our way to the Route 156 and head north for about 8.5km before keeping left at the fork just before the 156 would cross the Nagara River (there should be signage for the Amida Waterfall at this point).

Amida_Falls_140_10212016 - Looking back at the restroom facility and car park for the Amida Falls
Looking back at the restroom facility and car park for the Amida Falls

After another 150m, we would then turn left at the next turnoff (again following the signs) and pursue the rest of the route as stated above for the last 3.5km.

Overall, this drive would take us about 90 minutes to cover the 78km or so.

To give you some geographical context, Inuyama was about 25km north of Nagoya (Warning: there was A LOT of traffic and traffic lights on the direct route between these cities). Meanwhile, Takayama was about 85km west of Matsumoto, and Matsumoto was 220km (about 3 hours drive) northwest of Tokyo. Meanwhile, Nagoya was about 344km west of Tokyo (over 4 hours by car but under 3 hours by rail).

Checking out the falls from various spots on the right side of its stream


Checking out the falls from various spots on the slippery left side of its stream

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Tagged with: amida, gujo, takasu, shirotori, japan, waterfall, top 100, gifu, tokai-hokuriku, expressway



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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.
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