Jakko Waterfall (jakko-no-taki [寂光の滝])

Nikko, Tochigi, Japan

About Jakko Waterfall (jakko-no-taki [寂光の滝])


Hiking Distance: 800m round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2023-04-15
Date last visited: 2023-04-15

Waterfall Latitude: 36.76299
Waterfall Longitude: 139.56757

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

The Jakko Waterfall (jakko-no-taki [寂光の滝]; Jakko Falls) was a bit of an unexpected waterfalling surprise even though it’s well-signed and within the town of Nikko, which is well-known for blinged out World Heritage temples and shrines.

It was a surprise to me because it basically took a closure of the neighboring Urami Waterfall (during my April 2023 visit) to make me seriously consider pursuing the Jakko Falls.

Jakko_Falls_030_04142023 - The Jakko Waterfall
The Jakko Waterfall

Prior to that, for some reason I thought it wasn’t worth the trouble (at least compared to most of the other waterfalls in the Nikko vicinity), but as you can see from the picture above, I was quite glad that I did opt to pursue it!

For starters, this waterfall is said to have a cumulative drop of 50m over a series of seven drops.

While I couldn’t definitively corroborate the claim that there were seven discernible drops of the Jakko Falls nor that it was that tall, I did notice that there seemed to be more than meets the eye with this waterfall.

For example, I noticed that there were more hidden tiers further upstream (which would disappear the closer to the falls that I’d get).

Jakko_Falls_044_04142023 - An obstructed view of Jakko Falls on the approach, which shows that there's more than meets the eye with this waterfall from its hidden upper tiers to the cascades downstream of it
An obstructed view of Jakko Falls on the approach, which shows that there’s more than meets the eye with this waterfall from its hidden upper tiers to the cascades downstream of it

Even though this was a well-signed waterfall in Nikko, I found that you’re probably better off self-driving to it because it’s a bit of a detour from the main road (Route 122) to get up to the trailhead (see directions).

That said, like the neighboring Urami Falls in the next drainage over to the west, you can visit Jakko Falls if you don’t have your own wheels, but you’ll have to endure a bit of a 2.2km walk just to get to that trailhead.

However, once you’re at the trailhead, it’s a very short loop walk that’s probably 500-600m that encompasses both the waterfall as well as the Jakko Shrine.

The way I did this excursion was that I actually noticed a narrow side trail just before the path went up a series of steps leading up to the Jakko Shrine.

Jakko_Falls_009_iPhone_04152023 - Approaching a torii gate before a split in the path where the steps to the right led up to Jakko Shrine while a less obvious path on the left goes around the hill for a narrower and more atmospheric approach to the Jakko Falls
Approaching a torii gate before a split in the path where the steps to the right led up to Jakko Shrine while a less obvious path on the left goes around the hill for a narrower and more atmospheric approach to the Jakko Falls

Following this ledge, it skirted the creek responsible for the Jakko Falls and then did an atmospheric approach to the falls itself, where it looked quite tall even though there were trees preventing a clean look.

As I got closer to the waterfall, the views became cleaner, but then the upper tiers of the waterfall were concealed, and thus the pictures really don’t do it justice to convey its full size.

Once I had my fill of the falls, I saw that the ledge trail then climbed up a slope leading up to a pair of wooden buildings comprising the Jakko Shrine (which were shuttered up during my rainy mid-April 2023 visit).

On the other side of the ridge that the shrine was on, I also noticed that there was another drainage with a pair of man-modified waterfalls spilling over walls.

Jakko_Falls_049_04142023 - Looking at one of the two buildings comprising the Jakko Shrine, which sits before the Jakko Falls
Looking at one of the two buildings comprising the Jakko Shrine, which sits before the Jakko Falls

Anyways, after having my fill of the shrine, I then went back down the steps that I didn’t take earlier, and I was back at the car park within 45 minutes of setting out (and I was going at a very leisurely pace).

That said, I’m sure visiting this waterfall could easily be accomplished in less time than I had devoted on my visit.

Authorities

The Jakko Waterfall resides in the Nikko area of the Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It may be administered by the Nikko National Park. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Nikko Tourism Association website.

Jakko_Falls_002_iPhone_04152023 - Looking ahead at the trailhead across from the car park for Jakko Falls during a rainy day in Nikko (and the rest of Japan apparently) on my mid-April 2023 visit
Jakko_Falls_003_iPhone_04152023 - Looking back across the short bridge from the Jakko Falls car park towards the single-lane road it took to get here
Jakko_Falls_004_iPhone_04152023 - Looking upstream from the small bridge by the car park at the Tamozawa River, which was not the watercourse responsible for the Jakko Falls
Jakko_Falls_012_iPhone_04152023 - A cleaner look at the base of the Jakko Falls through a iPhone at the end of the trail
Jakko_Falls_004_04142023 - Looking through a greenish, moss-grown torii at the start of the short loop walk for the Jakko Falls and Jakko Shrine
Jakko_Falls_006_04142023 - Looking up at the steps leading up to the Jakko Shrine, which I actually decided to forego and do this last instead of first when I had noticed a trail on the left, and I wanted to see where it went
Jakko_Falls_010_04142023 - Following the ledge trail around the base of the hill holding up the Jakko Shrine, and I started to see the impressive Jakko Falls
Jakko_Falls_012_04142023 - Frontal look at the Jakko Falls and some downstream cascades as seen from the approach on the narrow ledge trail that I stumbled upon
Jakko_Falls_020_04142023 - As I got closer to Jakko Falls, I noticed that the upper tiers started to be more obstructed thereby making Jakko Falls look shorter than it really is
Jakko_Falls_026_04142023 - Frontal look at Jakko Falls from the end of the trail definitely looking shorter than when I first noticed it from the narrow ledge trail approach
Jakko_Falls_034_04142023 - Another look from the base of the Jakko Falls probably getting good volume due to the moderately heavy rains that hit Nikko (and perhaps the rest of Japan) during my visit in April 2023
Jakko_Falls_036_04142023 - Looking back at Jakko Falls as I started to head up to the Jakko Shrine
Jakko_Falls_040_04142023 - You can see that the higher up I went on the short path leading up to the Jakko Shrine, the more of the upper tiers of Jakko Falls that I could see
Jakko_Falls_047_04142023 - Looking towards the other side of the hill containing Jakko Shrine towards some hard-to-see man-modified waterfalls flowing on the Tarozawa River
Jakko_Falls_050_04142023 - Angled look up at the other of two buildings comprising the Jakko Shrine.  The first one actually provided me some shelter to take this shot in the moderately heavy rain
Jakko_Falls_051_04142023 - Another look back towards the Jakko Shrine (I think this was the first building), which you can see was accompanied by a lot of rain
Jakko_Falls_016_iPhone_04152023 - Looking back at the Jakko Falls as I was heading up to the Jakko Shrine
Jakko_Falls_020_iPhone_04152023 - Looking down at the steps to take to get back down from the Jakko Shrine, which I opted to punt to the end instead of the beginning during my brief visit in April 2023
Jakko_Falls_055_04142023 - Going down the steps from the Jakko Shrine to regain the car park. I had to be careful with the slippery footing due to the rain
Jakko_Falls_056_04142023 - Descending towards the torii at the start and end of my brief Jakko Falls visit


Jakko Falls was pretty much in the town of Nikko (日光) for all intents and purposes.

Therefore, you actually have a pretty convenient option to use public transportation to get to the nearest bus stop before walking up to the falls (something I haven’t done for this waterfall), or you can self-drive to it.

Shiraito_Falls_001_iPhone_04152023 - Looking in an eastern direction at the Shinkyo Bridge near the traffic light by it (the starting point of the short directions in this write-up).  Seriously, this is one of the most known landmarks in Nikko so you pretty much can't miss it
Looking in an eastern direction at the Shinkyo Bridge near the traffic light by it (the starting point of the short directions in this write-up). Seriously, this is one of the most known landmarks in Nikko so you pretty much can’t miss it

I’ll describe the self-driving way in this write-up, but realize that the nearest stop is part of the All Nikko Pass, so it’s certainly feasible if you’re already using it to take the bus around town.

Regarding the self-driving, using the traffic light at the Shinkyo Bridge as a starting point, I’d drive west on the Route 122 for about 1.5km to a signed turnoff (but still easy to miss) on the right.

There’s a sign for Jakko Falls, which gave me the heads up to get ready to turn.

You’ll want that heads up because once you’re at the turnoff, it’s a narrow (pretty much single-lane) road, which is why it’s so easy to drive past.

Jakko_Falls_023_iPhone_04152023 - Looking back at the context of the Jakko Falls car park at the end of the single-lane road deviating from the main road through the touristy western end of Nikko
Looking back at the context of the Jakko Falls car park at the end of the single-lane road deviating from the main road through the touristy western end of Nikko

Once on the turnoff (which Google Maps labels as Route 194), I drove about 2.2km to its end, where I kept left at the major forks in the road (I didn’t recall the signage was obvious at some of these forks).

The car park is at a clearing just on the other side of a small bridge on the Tamozawa River, which is actually a different stream to the one responsible for the Jakko Falls.

To give you some geographical context, Nikko was 39km (under an hour drive) northwest of Utsunomiya, 152km (about 2 hours drive) north of Tokyo, 159km (2 hours drive) east of Numata (or 95km over 2 hours drive via Route 120 over the Konsei Toge Pass, which is subject to snow closure), 256km (3 hours drive) southwest of Sendai, 256km (over 3 hours drive) east of Nagano, and 284km (3.5 hours drive) southeast of Niigata.

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Brief 360 degree sweep showing Jakko Falls from the ledge trail beneath the shrines


Slow and deliberate back and forth sweep of the falls with zoomed in pans


360 degree sweep showing the shrines to start off with before panning down to the Jakko Falls with a brief zoomed-in panning along its drops

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Tagged with: nikko, tochigi, japan, waterfall, unesco, jakko shrine, all nikko pass, shrines, temples, world heritage, uncrowded



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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.
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