About Chidorigataki Waterfall (chidorigataki [千鳥ヶ滝])
The Chidorigataki Waterfall (chidorigataki [千鳥ヶ滝]; “1000 Birds Falls?”) was kind of a nice relaxing spot to break up a long drive across Hokkaido.
In our particular instance, we used this falls to break up an all-day drive from Utoro to Hakodate.
Indeed, I got rest stop vibes when we showed up to this waterfall in July 2023 as everything about this place screamed to me, “road trip!”.
The Takinoue Park (滝上 or 滝の上; takigami or taki-no-ue, respectively, meaning “top of the waterfall”) seemed to be ideally situated for detoxing purposes above the Chidorigataki (as the name would suggest).
Experiencing the Chidorigataki Waterfall
From the car park (see directions below), we walked through the serene Takinoue Park.
This city park featured a large quiet open space with restrooms, picnic shelters, and wide footpaths flanked by large lawns and shade-providing trees.
Roughly some 300-400m from the start, we reached a bridge (called Chidoribashi) spanning the large gorge of the Yubari River.
It was from this bridge that we could see the Chidorigataki Waterfall make its estimated 30-40m drop in segments among the strangely grooved bedrock and cliff formations.
I found it a bit difficult to try to get a view of all of Chidorigataki’s segments in one shot due to the geology of the area obstructing one side or the other.
However, when I got towards the second half of the Chidoribashi Bridge, I could see that there were hidden side waterfalls spilling down the cliffs to rejoin the Yubari River.
There seemed to be another groove in the cliffs as well harboring potentially another waterfall, but it was dry during my July 2023 visit.
When I got to the end of the bridge, I kept going and then went left at a trail junction to swing back around to a “garden” area underneath and in front of the Chidoribashi.
This “garden” offered a more frontal view of these side waterfalls as well as a closer look at the Chidorigataki Waterfall.
The area was lush, but it also had lots of mosquitos, junebugs or beetles, and intimidating looking wasps or hornets so I didn’t linger around there for too long.
It was also possible to keep walking further downstream away from the Chidorigataki Waterfall to extend a visit (maybe encompassing the second bridge, which was a suspension bridge).
However, I was content with my views of the Chidorigataki Falls, and then I returned the way I came fully recharged for the continuation of the long drive to Hakodate from Utoro.
Overall, we spent around 35 minutes away from the car in a nice and leisurely visit (maybe walking about 1km round-trip encompassing my little “garden” side excursion).
How Did Chidorigataki Falls Get Its Name?
Finally, I didn’t learn how the Chidorigataki Waterfall got its name, but the kanji suggests something about 1000 birds.
Again, I can only speculate that there may have been lots of birds that like to nest or fly around the Chidorigataki Falls.
Then again, something tells me that the man-made dam further upstream as well as some outflow channels further downstream may have impacted their behavior because they weren’t around during our July 2023 visit.
It’s also said that the Ainu called this waterfall “Ponsou Kamuikotan” (where the northern gods live), and perhaps there maybe a tie in to bird migration patterns if they come to or from the north?
Anyways, it’s all speculation, but I’d be keen to know what this waterfall has to do with a thousand birds.
The Chidorigataki Waterfall resides near the city of Yubari just east of Chitose in Hokkaido, Japan. It may be administered by the Yubari City Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Yubari City website.
The key to accessing the Takinoue Park would be to take the E38 Expressway from either Chitose to the west or Otofuke to the east, then exit the expressway at the Yubari IC.
From the E5/E38 interchange near Chitose to the Yubari exit is about 41km.
Meanwhile, it’s about 109km west from the Otofuke-Obishiro IC to the Yubari IC exit.
Once off the expressway at the Yubari IC exit, we then drove 6.5km west to the Chidorigataki car park on the left just past a railroad station.
Speaking of the railroad station, which was the JR Takinoue Station, it’s also possible to reach the Chidorigataki Waterfall via public transportation on the Sekisho Line.
Overall, it took us about 2 hours to drive from Otofuke to the Chidorigataki car park, which gives you an idea of the driving distances and drive times involved.
In the other direction, it would take less than an hour to get from the New Chitose Airport to the Chidorigataki Falls.
For some geographical context, Shin-Yubari was about 41km (45 minutes drive) northeast of Chitose, 80km (over an hour drive) southeast of Sapporo, 116km (about 1.5 hour drive) west of Otofuke, 128km (about 1.5 hour drive) northeast of Noboribetsu Onsen, and 319km (about 4 hours drive) northeast of Hakodate.
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