About Ginga Waterfall (Ginga-no-taki [銀河の滝]) and Ryusei Waterfall (Ryusei-no-taki [流星の滝])
The Ginga Waterfall (Ginga-no-taki [銀河の滝]; Ginga Falls) and Ryusei Waterfall (Ryusei-no-taki [流星の滝]; Ryusei Falls) comprised yet another set of twin Japanese waterfalls that we first noticed during our Japan 2009 trip.
This particular waterfall pairing had been referred to as the “husband and wife” falls (though the kanji suggests that Ginga is the Gold River Falls and Ryusei is the Flowing Star Falls).
Which one was the hubby and which one was the wife? We’ll leave it up to you to decide though we can probably guess in a mostly male-dominated society which one’s which.
In any case, the other twin waterfall sets that we’ve encountered in Japan so far include the Shomyo-daki and Hannoki-no-taki, Shiraito-no-taki and Otodome-no-taki, and Fudo-no-taki and Gongen-no-taki among others.
What really made the Ginga and Ryusei Waterfalls stand out for Julie and I was the huge rock cliff protruding between the two falls with hints of a snowy mountainous backcountry right behind the scene.
It also wasn’t often that giant waterfall pairs like this could be seen so close together (split by only that large rock).
And we thought highly enough of this pairing to give it a spot on our Top 10 Best Japan Waterfalls List at one point or another.
Being in Hokkaido (North Sea Island as I read it if I translate the kanji directly into Chinese), it was also a pretty peaceful experience visiting this waterfall pairing (that is if you’re willing to go beyond where the tour bus crowds are).
It very much reminded Julie and I of how waterfalling should be, which was easily lost when we were waterfalling throughout much of Asia as a result of the crowds, the concrete forest paths, and commercialism, etc.
Hiking and sightseeing possibilities in and around the Ginga and Ryusei Falls
Nearby the Ginga and Ryusei Falls was the Sounkyo Gorge where there was also a popular onsen complex.
Moreover, had we been really healthy and knew how to survive in bear country, then we could’ve also taken a 7-hour long trek through nearly pristine alpine scenery that hooked up with the Tenninkyo Gorge on the other side of Daisetsuzan National Park.
Needless to say, we didn’t do that (especially with Julie’s phobia of bears, which were bigger in Japan than the black bears in California combined with landslides that killed trails on the Tenninkyo side).
But overall, on each of our visits here (once in June 2009 and again in July 2023), we spent a little over an hour to experience the upper viewpoints plus all the short hiking involved to fully experience both the Ginga Waterfall and Ryusei Waterfall.
Speaking of the full experience, right behind the shops at the large car park (see directions below), we walked up a series of stairs with wood chips in them (probably to keep the path from getting too muddy).
These stairs led us to a pair of viewing decks, where the middle viewing deck was about 200m from the shops and provided a view much better than the one we got at the car park.
However, the uppermost viewing deck was even more elevated (albeit a little more overgrown) as we were 300m further along the path and nearly above the tree line that would’ve otherwise blocked parts of the falls in the distance from our line-of-sight.
The Ginga Waterfall and Ryusei Waterfall reside near Asahikawa in the Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. It is administered by the Daisetsuzan National Park. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Ministry of the Environment website.
Driving here took us around 75- to 90 minutes or so (roughly 70km) from Asahikawa though the speed limits of 50km/h were painfully sloooow.
The route we took was the Hwy 40 out of the city of Asahikawa and eventually onto Hwy 39 to the signposted turnoff for the Ginga Waterfall and Ryusei Waterfall.
And speaking of which, we thought it was a good idea to hire a car in Hokkaido instead of catching the buses which seemed to come here quite infrequently.
I’d say Hokkaido was generally the exception to the rule of trusting the excellent Japanese public transport system (though there were more remote parts of Honshu as well that might have been better served by rental car).
For geographical context, Asahikawa was 137km (2 hours by car or 2 hours by train) northeast of Sapporo. Sapporo was about 9.5 hours by train or 90 minutes by flight from Tokyo. It was also possible to fly to Sapporo from Osaka (under 2 hours) or Kobe (2 hours; this was how we did it on our trip).
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