Nachi Waterfall (Nachi-no-taki [那智の滝])

Nachi / Kii-Katsuura, Wakayama, Japan

About Nachi Waterfall (Nachi-no-taki [那智の滝])


Hiking Distance: 4-5km round trip (top and bottom)
Suggested Time: 90-120 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-06-02
Date last visited: 2009-06-02

Waterfall Latitude: 33.67531
Waterfall Longitude: 135.88762

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The Nachi Waterfall (Nachi-no-taki [那智の滝]; also Nachi Falls) was said to be the highest vertical waterfall in Japan at 133m.

Personally, I think the “vertical” adjective was necessary because we had seen other waterfalls with taller drops like the Shomyo Falls in the Japan Alps.

Nachi_039_06012009 - The Nachi Waterfall and a pagoda
The Nachi Waterfall and a pagoda

In any case, the presence of shrines, pagodas, and temples in the vicinity of the Nachi Waterfall (as you can see in the photo above) really made this waterfall stand out.

It seemed to give Julie and I the sense that Nachi-no-taki was some kind of holy or sacred waterfall in a part of the country that seemed quite different from the rest of Honshu (the main island in Japan).

We thought so highly of the Nachi Waterfall that we considered it to be our favorite waterfall in the country, and thus we included it on our Top 10 Best Japan Waterfalls List as well as our Top 10 Best Asia Waterfalls List.

Experiencing the Nachi Waterfall

The one thing about our visit that was kind of a shame was that Julie and I were quite rushed during our public-transport-only visit thanks to an utterly inconvenient boat shuttle schedule that linked the Hotel Urashima to the rest of Kii-Katsuura.

Nachi_062_06012009 - Looking right at the Nachi Waterfall from high up in the red pagoda
Looking right at the Nachi Waterfall from high up in the red pagoda

Apparently, the shuttle wouldn’t run between 14:50 and 19:00 as well as between 7:35 and 10:00.

So that forced our hand into trying to squeeze in a visit in barely an hour so as to not be stranded away from our hotel in the four hours between 3pm and 7pm.

What an utterly useless schedule!

Nevertheless, there were two main viewing area for visiting the falls, both of which we managed to squeeze in during our whirlwind tour.

The Lower Viewing Deck of the Nachi Waterfall

We started with the lower viewing area first before going to the upper viewing areas.

Nachi_030_06012009 - The falls from the lower viewing deck
The falls from the lower viewing deck

In hindsight, we probably should’ve done the reverse so most of the hiking would’ve been all downhill and would’ve been more efficient with our limited time.

We reached the lower viewing deck (after paying 300 円/person) from the “falls front” stop (at least that’s how I translated the kanji for 前滝).

From there, we went through a torii (we definitely saw lots of these archways in Japan), then down several steps towards a tree-shaded area with a shrine as well as a teasing view of the falls between trees.

After paying to get by the kiosk, we went up some more steps for a much better (though sometimes mistier) view of the Nachi Waterfall and the rocky cascades at its base.

The Temples and the upper views of the Nachi Waterfall

Nachi_035_06012009 - Going up the flights of steps to reach the temple and the upper views of the Nachi Waterfall. In hindsight, we should have taken the bus up there and take these stairs down to the lower viewpoints
Going up the flights of steps to reach the temple and the upper views of the Nachi Waterfall. In hindsight, we should have taken the bus up there and take these stairs down to the lower viewpoints

After visiting the lower viewing deck, we then walked up several flights of steps, which ultimately ended up at a shrine area (called the Seiganto-ji Temple).

We didn’t spend too much time in this area given our rush.

However, we were able to see a pretty over-the-top majestic view above the treeline with the cliff-diving Nachi Waterfall in its context and a beautiful pagoda juxtaposed with it.

After visiting this lovely sacred area, we then walked towards the red pagoda fronting the waterfall (the same one pictured at the top of this page).

Nachi_003_jx_06012009 - The entrance to one of the temples (the Seiganto-ji Temple) with a nice view of the Nachi Waterfall
The entrance to one of the temples (the Seiganto-ji Temple) with a nice view of the Nachi Waterfall

Once we got to the pagoda, we paid 200 円/person to enter it.

Within the pagoda, we walked up several flights of steps until we reached the upper floors where we were able to get even more views of the Nachi Waterfall above the treeline surrounded by only trees.

The very top floor views were also surrounded by netting with a hole cut into one part of it to allow for photos without the netting getting in the way.

Once we were done visiting the pagoda, we returned to its entrance and took a few more photos of this pagoda with the Nachi-no-taki together.

Nachi_040_06012009 - Approaching the red pagoda that offered us an even closer and elevated view of the Nachi Waterfall
Approaching the red pagoda that offered us an even closer and elevated view of the Nachi Waterfall

We discovered later that there was actually a “temple front” stop, which was about a minute later than the “falls front” stop that we were at earlier.

This probably would’ve saved us from the uphill stairclimbing between the two viewing decks had we disembarked the bus from here.

Conflicted between rushing our visit and what could have been

Not taking any chances, we then walked downhill along the road before finding a shaded path that ultimately brought us back to the “falls front” stop.

And while we were anxiously awaiting at a bench there for the next bus to show up, we were fortunate that the Japanese seemed to be very punctual (even on their bus schedules).

Nachi_066_06012009 - Returning to the bus stop before the lower viewpoint of the Nachi Waterfall (i.e. the 'falls front' bus stop according to the kanji)
Returning to the bus stop before the lower viewpoint of the Nachi Waterfall (i.e. the ‘falls front’ bus stop according to the kanji)

Thus, we still had a chance to return to the boat dock right before they’d leave for Hotel Urashima for the last time in the early afternoon.

Under more relaxed circumstances, we could’ve easily spent at least a half-day here to not only check out the Nachi Waterfall from its various vantage points, but also the intriguing Seiganto-ji Temple.

I would imagine that we would have better appreciated how this waterfall might have influenced the spirituality here from spending more time in the temples and shrines here.

In any case, my notes indicated that we barely spent just under an hour seeing the waterfall from both its base and from the pagoda at the top.

Katsuura_002_06012009 - The Hotel Urashima was where we stayed overnight during our visit to the Nachi Waterfall, and as you can see, it was a beautiful establishment requiring a boat ride to get to it from the mainland
The Hotel Urashima was where we stayed overnight during our visit to the Nachi Waterfall, and as you can see, it was a beautiful establishment requiring a boat ride to get to it from the mainland

All the logistics (the boat ride and bus ride plus all the walking/running) chewed into the 2 hours we had available.

It was a good thing that we weren’t stuck on Kii-Katsuura for another four hours because we used that time to enjoy the onsens at the Hotel Urashima as well as the hotel’s interior and even the beautiful garden area at its top!

Authorities

The Nachi Waterfall resides in the Katsuura Peninsula of the Wakayama Prefecture. It is administered by the Wakayama Prefectural Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) website.

Nachi_001_06012009 - Julie running through the torii to get to the lower viewing deck of the Nachi Waterfall
Nachi_004_06012009 - Direct view of Nachi Waterfall from the shrine area below the lower viewing deck
Nachi_010_06012009 - Direct view of the Nachi Waterfall after going up some steps from the lower viewing deck for a more open view
Nachi_032_06012009 - As we were leaving the lower viewing deck for Nachi-no-taki, we passed by this charming little shrine area
Nachi_034_06012009 - Running up the steps to the temple and upper views of the Nachi Waterfall
Nachi_005_jx_06012009 - An entrance to the Seiganto-ji Temple near the Nachi Waterfall
Nachi_037_06012009 - Distant look at a pagoda and the Nachi-no-taki. The viewing experience could be better, but the building to our right of where this picture was taken was closed
Nachi_047_06012009 - Looking back in the direction of Seiganto-ji Temple where we were just at as we made our way back down to the pagoda and the ultimately the bus stop at the lower viewpoint of the Nachi Waterfall
Nachi_049_06012009 - Context view of Nachi-no-taki from within the red pagoda
Nachi_052_06012009 - Zoomed in view of the Nachi Waterfall from the pagoda
Nachi_063_06012009 - Running to the 'falls front' bus stop after having visited Nachi-no-taki from its main viewing areas by the Seiganto-ji Temple
Katsuura_006_06022009 - Imagine our relief when we finally made it to the boat that returned us to the Hotel Urashima so we could enjoy the hotel itself
Katsuura_015_06022009 - Julie going beneath a torii and entering an attractive garden area atop Hotel Urashima
Katsuura_018_06022009 - A shrine in the garden area atop Hotel Urashima
Katsuura_062_06022009 - A surprise sea arch that we noticed while strolling around the top of the Hotel Urashima complex

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A major logistical issue regarding the Nachi Waterfall involved getting all the way to the Kii-Katsuura town (紀伊勝浦) or to Shingu (新宮).

They’re all the way on the southeastern side of Kii-hanto (Kii Peninsula) which was directly opposite the peninsula from the major cities in Kansai like Osaka (大阪), Kyoto (京都), and Nara (奈良).

Katsuura_001_06012009 - Hotel Urashima boat dock
Hotel Urashima boat dock

Julie and I did a 4-hour train ride from Shin Osaka Station (新大阪駅) on an express JR shinkansen line that stopped at a station by Kii-Katsuura (we really had to pay attention to the train schedule to know what we could and couldn’t do without a car).

Just to give you an idea of our adventurous day to get to this waterfall, our logistics broke down as follows:

  1. Catch earliest train from Kyoto Station (京都駅) to Shin Osaka Station (新大阪駅) at 6:09
  2. Catch long ride from Shin Osaka to Kii-Katsuura (紀伊勝浦駅) at 7:35
  3. Arrive at Kii-Katsuura (11:35) and catch boat with luggage and all to Hotel Urashima (11:55)
  4. After leaving luggage at reception, caught next boat back to town at 12:45
  5. Catch 13:00 bus from Kii-Katsuura Station (紀伊勝浦駅) to the falls (Taki-mae or 滝前)
  6. Catch 14:16 bus from the falls front back to Kii-Katsuura Station
  7. Catch the critical 14:50 boat from Kii-Katsuura dock to Hotel Urashima; if we missed that one, we would be stranded in town until 19:00!

PS: Had we waited until the next day to do this excursion, the boat shuttle didn’t run between 7:35 and 10:00, which meant that we would’ve had to get a real early start or else we would’ve had to wait until almost midday to visit the Nachi Waterfall.

This boat schedule caused us quite a bit of bother as we were trying to return to Osaka that day anyways so we quickly had to rush to eat breakfast, get our stuff together, check out, and then leave for the boat to return to the Kii-Katsuura mainland.

Katsuura_071_06022009 - Looking back from the top of the Hotel Urashima towards the boat dock and the rest of the mainland at the Kii-Katsuura town. Despite the bad boat schedule, the hotel was very nice
Looking back from the top of the Hotel Urashima towards the boat dock and the rest of the mainland at the Kii-Katsuura town. Despite the bad boat schedule, the hotel was very nice

We needed to not miss the train bound for Osaka so we couldn’t afford to miss the boat and have to wait several more hours to catch the next one!

Maybe in hindsight, we would’ve been better off driving this section as the boat schedule just seemed utterly inconvenient (almost useless) to us!?!

To give you some further geographical context, Kii-Katsuura (sometimes also called Nachi-Katsuura) was 241km south of Osaka (about 3.5 hours drive or 4.5 hours by train) and 228km south of Nagoya (under 3.5 hours drive or under 4 hours by train on the Nanki line).

Deliberate bottom up sweep of the falls from the lower viewing deck


Quick still movie of the falls with pagoda


Quick bottom up sweep of the waterfall as seen from the pagoda

Tagged with: nachi, katsuura, wakayama, osaka, japan, waterfall, peninsula, temple, urashima, honshu, kansai



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