About Fudonanae Waterfall (fudonanae-no-taki [不動七重の滝])
The Fudonanae Waterfall (Fudonanae-no-otaki [不動七重の滝]; or Fudo 7 Falls) is an off-the-beaten-path waterfall deviating from the National Route 169 between Yoshino and Shingu within Yoshino-Kumano National Park.
From reading the kanji, I presume that this waterfall has something to do with being “motionless” or “immovable” as apparently it may appear that way when gazing upon its mesmerizing flow from the signed lookout (see directions below).
The kanji also suggests that there are 7 waterfalls making up the Fudonanae Falls, and I guess you might be able to identify them if you look at the picture above very closely (hint: the smaller tiers count).
As for its size, I’ve seen one climbing site (who must have actually abseiled these waterfalls at one point) estimate the overall drop to be about 80m, which seems reasonable.
By the way, since this waterfall is on the Zenki River (前鬼川 or Zenkigawa), it may also be referred to as the Zenki Fudonanae Waterfall (or Zenki Fudonanae-no-otaki; 前鬼・不動七重の滝).
This is to distinguish it from many other waterfalls in Japan with the name “Fudo” or “motionless” (e.g. Harafudo Waterfall in the Hyogo Prefecture).
Anyways, for all intents and purposes, this is a roadside waterfall though the road involved is a narrow, single-lane road full of fallen rocks and dropoff exposure.
That said, we used it as a short detour on the much longer drive from Mt Yoshino (a famous sakura or cherry blossom spot) all the way to Nachikatsuura on the opposite end of the Kumano Mountains.
So a visit here is really nothing more than driving up to an overlook and then continuing on.
Nevertheless, we did spot a scattering of cherry blossoms at the tops of the neighboring mountains (so we didn’t completely miss the sakura on our Spring Break visit in early April 2023 though the famous spots were well past the peak).
Anyways, I had entertained thoughts of doing a hike to get closer to the Fudonanae Waterfall (since Gaia GPS suggested there was a trail), but I understand that trail is closed.
As a result, overall we spent about 30 minutes or so at this overlook, but most of the work involved driving to get to this overlook, which itself took us about 15 minutes for the 7km detour (each way).
The Fudonanae Waterfall resides within the Yoshino-Kumano National Park near the Shimokitayama Village of the Nara Prefecture. It is administered by the Ministry of the Environment. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Ministry of the Environment website.
The Fudonanae Waterfall (or Zenki Fudonanae Falls to distinguish it from other “motionless” waterfalls sharing this name throughout Japan) resides in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park.
The key thing to remember is that we took the National Route 169 between Yoshino and Shingu.
This is a surprisingly well-maintained road that is two lanes most of the way with lots of tunnels to take out the curviness of most of the mountain roads.
From Yoshino, we drove south along the Route 169 for about 55km before going over a long bridge spanning what appeared to be the headwaters of a reservoir creeping up into the Zenki River (前鬼川 or Zenkigawa) drainage.
Right after this bridge, there was a real easy-to-miss turnoff on the right, which left the Route 169 for a narrow single-lane road leading the remaining 7km to the Fudonanae Observation Area.
It’s worth noting that this narrower road had some fallen rocks that we had to avoid as well as mirrors at blind turns just in case there’s traffic coming in the opposite direction (there wasn’t any on our visit).
This part of the drive took us about 75 minutes (or 1 hour between Yoshino and the single-lane road turnoff past the bridge).
Had we went in the other direction, it would have been about 66km from Shingu to the turnoff for Fudonanae Falls (the road was the Route 168 between Shingu to an intersection with the Route 169 about 21km northwest of Shingu, where it’s the 169 the rest of the way).
For geographical context, Shimokitayama is 22km (30 minutes drive) south of Kamikitayama, 68km (under 90 minutes drive) south from Yoshino, 49km (over an hour drive) north from Nachikatsuura, 106km (2.5 hours drive) south of Nara, and and 137km (over 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Osaka.
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