About Kanmangafuchi Abyss Waterfalls
The Kanmangafuchi Abyss Waterfalls (kanman-ga-fuchi-no-taki [憾満ヶ淵の滝]) were essentially my excuse to experience the mysterious Bake Jizo (Narabi Jizo) statues in the town of Nikko.
The Bake Jizo were a row of some 74 red-capped statues all facing the Daiya River (or Daiyagawa [大谷川]), which is the same river responsible for the Kegon Waterfall further upstream.
Ever since our first visit to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss in June 2009, we were mesmerized by the mysterious statues providing a somewhat eerie feeling to that experience.
Back then, the place was largely unexplored, and even tourist infrastructure was lacking while all the signage were in Japanese, which further added to the mystique of that first visit.
Yet even though we weren’t looking for a waterfalling experience (because they’re really nothing that significant compared to other named waterfalls), they were there.
And that was something I had noticed even more when I came back on a return visit in April 2023.
During that second visit, I saw that there were a handful of tourists out and about early in the morning as well as some more international tourism infrastructure (i.e. an info office as well as more signs in English).
In any case, I paid more attention to the cascades and waterfalls both in the Daiya River as well as from side streams feeding the river, and the end result was this write-up (when I could have written this up on our first visit).
Nevertheless, the real appeal of the Kanmangafuchi Abyss was the jizo statues situated in a volcanic gorge (from which someone must have presumed it was an “abyss”) that may have been formed originally from an eruption of the nearby Mt Nantai.
That said, I didn’t think the gorge was anything close to being as deep as what I would imagine the word “abyss” would conjure up, and perhaps something got lost in translation.
Anyways, contrasting the much busier visit to the Toshogu Shrine and its neighboring temples and shrines in Nikko, a visit to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss was like a breath of fresh air.
As far as how we experienced this place, the first time we were here in late May 2009, we stayed at the Turtle Inn Nikko annex Hotori-an, which was a tatami-style accommodation right next door to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss.
So it was very easy and straightforward to just go next door and explore the statues in naturesque surroundings.
The second time I visited this place was in mid-April 2023, where we stayed at the Kozuchi no Yado Tsurukame Daikichi (a ryokan-like accommodation not far upstream from the Shinkyo Bridge), and I walked about 1km to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss.
In hindsight, since I was renting a car on that second visit, I probably could have driven to a small car park adjacent to a local cemetery and shrine, which was just above the main row of Bake Jizo statues.
The row itself was only about 200-300m long, and it doesn’t take long to take in the scenery including the incidental cascades and waterfalls within the “abyss” itself.
The Kanmangafuchi Abyss Waterfalls reside in the Nikko area of the Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. They 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.
The Kanmangafuchi Abyss (encompassing the Bake Jizo or Narabi Jizo statues as well as the waterfalls) is pretty much in the touristy part of Western Nikko.
That said, it’s on the south side of the Daiyagawa River, which is much quieter than the bustling town further to the north and to the east.
Anyways, as mentioned in the write-up above, you can do an atmospheric visit by walking to the Kanmangafuchi Abyss before experiencing the site itself, or you can drive right to the site.
The route I took (walking though driving would work, too) was to follow a side street (the first left turn 300m west of the Shinkyo Bridge), and follow this for the next 1km from Kozuchi no Yado Tsurukame Daikichi to the entrance at Kanman Park.
It’s just past the Turtle Inn Nikko annex Hotori-an.
The car park that I found that I could have taken my rental car to was about 200m past the Kanman Park entrance, where the limited space there was next to a local cemetery and shrine (above the main row of the Bake Jizo).
For 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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