Naena Waterfall (Naena-taki [苗名滝])

Suginosawa / Myoko / Nagano, Niigata, Japan

About Naena Waterfall (Naena-taki [苗名滝])


Hiking Distance: over 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-10-19
Date last visited: 2016-10-19

Waterfall Latitude: 36.85024
Waterfall Longitude: 138.13298

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The Naena Waterfall (Naena-no-taki [苗名滝]; or Naena Falls) was one of our more pleasant waterfalling experiences in Japan.

It featured a classically-shaped rectangular waterfall plunging 55m over a cliff with pronounced basalt columns.

Naena_Falls_094_10182016 - Naena Waterfall
Naena Waterfall

As you can see from the photo above, we happened to have timed our visit for the near peak of the koyo (or Autumn colors), which really added to the experience.

The Naena Falls was not only one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls according to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, but it was also very popular.

In fact, we shared this falls with dozens (maybe well over a hundred) people mostly from tour buses.

Yet even with the busy visit, there were plenty of ways to experience the waterfall so it never really felt like it was overwhelmingly crowded.

Naena_Falls_101_10182016 - Direct view of the Naena Waterfall from a scramble leading closer to its base
Direct view of the Naena Waterfall from a scramble leading closer to its base

We’ve been made aware that this waterfall was also referred to as the “Earthquake Falls” because of how loud its thundering roar can be.

Having made our visit to this gushing waterfall, we can definitely confirm that indeed it was pretty loud.

Experiencing the Naena Waterfall

Our visit to the Naena Waterfall was quite straightforward.

We followed a well maintained 500m path from the cafes and shops flanking the car park (see directions below) to a suspension bridge crossing the Sekigawa (関川 or Seki River).

Naena_Falls_012_10182016 - Looking upstream from a bridge over the Sekigawa River towards some terraced dam infrastructure on the way up to the Naena Waterfall. I believe this structure was set up for flood control
Looking upstream from a bridge over the Sekigawa River towards some terraced dam infrastructure on the way up to the Naena Waterfall. I believe this structure was set up for flood control

Backing the bridge were some terraced dams, which I’m guessing was there for flood control.

On the other side of the bridge, we had to get over this dam infrastructure by going up several flights of steps spiralling up past the top of the dam walls.

Beyond the dam walls, the trail then continued on a more conventional riverside path.

We started to get our first views of the beautiful Naena Falls after about 400m from the trailhead.

Naena_Falls_031_10182016 - It was a pretty busy trail to access the Naena Waterfall because there were at least a couple of tour buses during our visit
It was a pretty busy trail to access the Naena Waterfall because there were at least a couple of tour buses during our visit

At first, we could see the waterfall being fronted by a suspension bridge crossing the Sekigawa.

Continuing another 100m, we then reached a trail junction where we could go right to view the falls from the bouncy suspension bridge over the Sekigawa or continue straight for some more informal views of the falls from an angle.

That trail keeping left of the bridge was more overgrown and muddy (therefore slippery) due to the spray coming from the falls.

We didn’t pursue going all the way on that trail so we don’t know where that branch of the path ultimately went.

Naena_Falls_143_10182016 - Context of the suspension bridge fronting Naena Waterfall as we approached it
Context of the suspension bridge fronting Naena Waterfall as we approached it

However, we did cross the suspension bridge and had the opportunity to do some boulder scrambles to get as close to the Naena Waterfall as safely possible.

There was a shelter here as well as some interpretive signposts (in kanji) talking about the Japan’s Top 100 List.

Overall, we spent a little over an hour away from the car.

We easily could have spent less time here, but we were so captivated by the koyo as well as the waterfall itself that we really took our time.

Naena_Falls_127_10182016 - Context of the lookout shelter and the Naena Waterfall, where we could definitely hear the thundering waterfall from here
Context of the lookout shelter and the Naena Waterfall, where we could definitely hear the thundering waterfall from here

It has been said that the peak koyo of this area would be in mid-November.

So we can only imagine just how much more colorful this place would be if we thought our early arrival was pretty already!

Authorities

The Naena Waterfall resides near Myoko of the Niigata Prefecture, Japan. 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 their website.

Naena_Falls_009_10182016 - Mom starting on the popular walk to the Naena Waterfall
Naena_Falls_011_10182016 - Crossing the first suspension bridge above the Sekigawa River en route to the Naena Falls
Naena_Falls_015_10182016 - Looking downstream from the first suspension bridge along the trail leading us to the Naena Waterfall
Naena_Falls_025_10182016 - Looking back downstream past the first suspension bridge towards the context of the shops and the car park on the other side of the Sekigawa River
Naena_Falls_028_10182016 - Looking across one of the tiers of the terraced dam holding up the Sekigawa River towards the mountains surrounding the area
Naena_Falls_149_10182016 - In order to get past the dam walls, we had to go up these spiral steps on the way to the Naena Waterfall
Naena_Falls_029_10182016 - After getting past the dam walls, we then continued walking upstream along the Seki River while being treated to these views as the koyo was just starting to work its way down to lower elevations
Naena_Falls_032_10182016 - We were sharing the Naena Falls Trail with many people that were in tour groups
Naena_Falls_043_10182016 - This was our first look at the Naena Waterfall as we were approaching the second suspension bridge
Naena_Falls_046_10182016 - Broad look at the Naena Waterfall fronted by an attractive suspension bridge
Naena_Falls_047_10182016 - Zoomed in portrait look at the suspension bridge fronting the Naena Waterfall
Naena_Falls_053_10182016 - Another contextual look at the Naena Waterfall fronted by the second suspension bridge as we got closer to it
Naena_Falls_060_10182016 - Looking upstream at the Naena Waterfall as we were at the second suspension bridge
Naena_Falls_072_10182016 - Another look at the Naena Waterfall before crossing the second suspension bridge over the Sekigawa River
Naena_Falls_075_10182016 - Once we were on the suspension bridge, we then got cleaner looks at the Naena Waterfall
Naena_Falls_084_10182016 - Another clean look at the attractive Naena Waterfall from the second suspension bridge
Naena_Falls_097_10182016 - To the left of the second suspension bridge, we explored a little more to see where the trail went. Would it take us closer to the Naena Waterfall?
Naena_Falls_098_10182016 - The further up the trail we went, the more slippery and muddy the trail became so we chose not to go too far and just be content with the more frontal views of the Naena Waterfall further downstream from here
Naena_Falls_124_10182016 - Back at the second suspension bridge over the Sekigawa as we got more frontal views of the Naena Waterfall with some people daring to scramble amongst the boulders to get even closer to it
Naena_Falls_133_10182016 - Another contextual look back at the Naena Waterfall as we started to make our way back to the trailhead
Naena_Falls_139_10182016 - This was our last glimpse of the Naena Falls before we continued further down the trail to return to the car park
Naena_Falls_152_10182016 - Mom going back across the first suspension bridge over the Sekigawa as we were getting close to the car park

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The Naena Waterfall was north of the city of Nagano and south of the northern coastal city of Joetsu.

Given its relative close proximity to Nagano, we’re aware that this waterfall can be visited using public transport.

However, since we drove to this waterfall, this is how we’ll discuss the directions since we can only talk about how we’ve managed to make our visit.

Starting from Matsumoto, we entered the Nagano Expressway heading north at the Matsumoto IC entrance.

Then we drove north towards the city of Nagano, keeping left to stay on the northbound lanes of the Joshinnetsu Expressway.

Naena_Falls_003_10182016 - From the car park at the Naena Waterfall, there also happened to be some shops with a nice garden and man-made waterfall in front of it
From the car park at the Naena Waterfall, there also happened to be some shops with a nice garden and man-made waterfall in front of it

We remained on this expressway until the Myokokogen IC exit (roughly 104km north of the Matsumoto IC).

After exiting at the Myokokogen IC, we headed south on the Route 18, and then we followed the signs which directed us to turn right onto the Route 39.

We took this road for over 6km following the signs as it passed through the town of Suginosawa before arriving at the well-developed car park.

There were plenty of parking spaces considering how popular this place can get.

Naena_Falls_005_10182016 - The car park for the Naena Waterfall
The car park for the Naena Waterfall

Overall, the drive from Matsumoto took us a little over 90 minutes.

For some geographical context, the city of Nagano was about 30km south of Suginosawa (via a combination of the Route 37, Route 119, and Route 280 before hitting the Route 39). Nagano was about 70km (75 minutes drive or 90 minutes by train) from Matsumoto and 242km (3 hours drive or about 2.5 hours by train) from Tokyo. Joetsu was about 64km north of Nagano (about 90 minutes drive or by train).

Long movie starting from a distant lookout before approaching the swinging bridge for more footage from there

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Tagged with: suginosawa, myoko, nagano, sekigawa, river, koyo, fall colors, japan, waterfall, top 100



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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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