Nikko Kotaki Waterfall (nikko-ko-taki [日光・小滝])

Nikko / Yumoto Onsen, Tochigi, Japan

About Nikko Kotaki Waterfall (nikko-ko-taki [日光・小滝])

Hiking Distance: 2km loop
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2023-04-14
Date last visited: 2023-04-14

Waterfall Latitude: 36.79241
Waterfall Longitude: 139.4286

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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!

Yudaki_056_04132023 - The Kotaki Waterfall
The Kotaki Waterfall

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.

Yudaki_047_04132023 - The short loop walk to take in the Kotaki Waterfall was peaceful and naturesque given that the vast majority of visitors to Yudaki Waterfall don't bother doing this trail
The short loop walk to take in the Kotaki Waterfall was peaceful and naturesque given that the vast majority of visitors to Yudaki Waterfall don’t bother doing this trail

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).

Yudaki_049_04132023 - Steps descending to a footbridge spanning the Yugawa River before the Kotaki Waterfall
Steps descending to a footbridge spanning the Yugawa River before the Kotaki Waterfall

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.

Yudaki_028_04132023 - One benefit of doing the Kotaki Falls Loop walk is the ability to get unusual views of the Yudaki Waterfall like this
Yudaki_032_04132023 - The boardwalk comprising the short Kotaki Falls Loop downstream of Yudaki Waterfall
Yudaki_035_04132023 - Another unusual look back at the Yudaki Waterfall from the Kotaki Loop Walk
Yudaki_038_04132023 - The Kotaki Loop Walk pretty much follows alongside the Yugawa River
Yudaki_045_04132023 - Continuing along the well-developed boardwalk comprising the Kotaki Loop Walk
Yudaki_052_04132023 - Direct look at the Kotaki Waterfall as seen from the footbridge over the Yugawa
Yudaki_059_04132023 - Contextual view of the Kotaki Waterfall as seen from the footbridge over the Yu River
Yudaki_060_04132023 - Looking across the footbridge spanning the Yu River to continue the Kotaki Loop Walk
Yudaki_061_04132023 - Last look at the Kotaki Waterfall from the footbridge
Yudaki_066_04132023 - During my mid-April 2023 visit, parts of the trail further downstream of Kotaki were closed
Yudaki_068_04132023 - Looking over the brink of the Kotaki Waterfall as I was continuing the loop walk back to the Yudaki Waterfall
Yudaki_071_04132023 - Continuing up the other side of the short Kotaki Loop Walk through wooded settings
Yudaki_073_04132023 - A sign ensuring that I'm going the right way back to the Yutaki Waterfall
Yudaki_075_04132023 - You can truly appreciate the size of the Yudaki Waterfall on this hike, especially after seeing how small Kotaki was in comparison to this
Yudaki_076_04132023 - Final stretch back to the shop to close the loop on the Kotaki Falls Walk
Yudaki_080_04132023 - Context of the end of the Kotaki Loop Walk with the shop fronting the Yudaki Waterfall towering over it
Yudaki_084_04132023 - Making it back to the picnic area and building shop by the base of the Yudaki Waterfall after having completed the short walk to the Kotaki Falls and back
Drive_to_Yudaki_004_jx_04142023.JPEG - We actually saw monkeys during our visit to the Yudaki and Kotaki Falls near the entrance to the car park
Drive_to_Yudaki_006_jx_04142023.JPEG - This was as close of a look at a monkey around Yudaki that Julie was able to photograph even though it was facing away from us during our mid-April 2023 visit

Since the Kotaki Waterfall shares the same car park as that of the Yudaki Waterfall, I’ll just punt you over to the driving directions on that page.

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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Almost 360 degree sweep showing the path in both directions as well as a deliberate zoomed-in panning of the Kotaki Falls before zooming out for more context

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Tagged with: nikko, tochigi, japan, waterfall, unesco, chuzenjiko, chuzenji, lake, all nikko pass, yumoto onsen, yu-no-ko, lake yunoko, chuzenji onsen, geothermal, yudaki, yutaki, monkeys

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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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