About Nikko Kotaki Waterfall (nikko-ko-taki [日光・小滝])
The Kotaki Waterfall (Ko-taki [小滝] or Nikko Kotaki [日光・小滝] to distinguish it from other “small waterfalls”) is essentially a diminutive companion to the impressive Yudaki Waterfall further upstream.
Given that these waterfalls share the Yu River ([湯川] or yukawa or yugawa) meaning they drain the geothermally-heated Lake Yunoko, that also makes them essentially thermal waterfalls as well!
As the kanji suggests, the Kotaki Falls is short at maybe 5m or so, but depending on the flow of the Yugawa, it could be much wider than it is tall.
During my mid-April 2023 visit, the area didn’t quite reach the peak of the snowmelt, but I’d imagine that in the early Summer, the falls could spread out and look impressively wide.
Anyways, I view the Kotaki Waterfall as a way to extend a visit to the Yudaki Waterfall, where the latter can be experienced in just minutes.
Kotaki is at the far end of a short 2km well-developed loop walk that starts and ends around the viewing deck and shop at the base of the Yudaki Waterfall.
There are also options to extend this walk further downstream along the Yugawa River (especially if you have the means to do a one-way walk).
Extending the visit in this manner allows you to experience the Senjogahara Plateau and even the Ryuzu Falls on the north end of Lake Chuzenji.
Nevertheless, I found the shorter loop encompassing the Kotaki Waterfall to be peaceful and naturesque even if the trail was essentially boardwalk the entire way.
That said, being this deep in Nature does come with the caveat that bears can and do frequent the area (as well as monkeys, which we saw a group of them around the Yudaki car park entrance).
Overall, I spent about 30 minutes on this walk though I could totally envision taking more time just to savor the Nature on offer here.
The Kotaki Waterfall shares the same reserve as Yudaki in the Nikko area of the Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is 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.
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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