About Otsuji Waterfall (otsujigataki [乙字ケ滝])
The Otsuji Waterfall (otsujigataki [乙字ケ滝]; “Otsujiga Falls”) was a wide, urban waterfall spanning the Abukuma River in the southern outskirts of Sukagawa (which itself is kind of a southern suburb to Koriyama).
The waterfall is reported to have a height of 6m with a width of 100m, which is wide enough to have a little bit of a horseshoe shape across its brink.
Speaking of the horseshoe, it’s said that if you look at the Abukuma River from above or the waterfall’s side, you’ll apparently see the character otsu (乙) and hence the name of the falls.
Given these characteristics, they have compelled people to refer to the Otsuji Falls as a miniature Niagara Falls.
As a result, it has also been named among Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls according to the Ministry of the Environment’s 1990 list.
Come to think about it, most of the waterfalls throughout Japan tend to be of the tall and slender variety so I tend to think it’s this wide block-type appearance that makes it stand out.
By the way, I should mention that this waterfall may also be referred to as Otsujiga Falls, Otsujigataki Falls, Otsujiga Waterfall, Otsujigataki Waterfall, or Otsuji Falls.
All these nomenclature variations have to do with the inexact mapping of Japanese words to Romaji, especially whether or not to include particles in the place names (ケ or ga in this instance).
Nevertheless, when we visited this waterfall on a pretty hot Summer afternoon in late July 2023, we appreciated that it didn’t take much effort to experience.
There was a short developed walking area next to the Takimi Fudoson Mido Shrine and some other “holy” relics (i.e. pillars, tablets, and statues) sandwiched between the Abukuma River itself and the Michinoku Bicycle Route.
Some of these relics also seem to refer to the haiku poet Matsuo Basho who visited here and did a poem about the Otsuji Falls, which is written in one of the stone tablets here.
Anyways, this walking area allowed us to view the waterfall from its brink, from its profile (for a closer look across its drop), and from further downstream where we got a frontal view.
Although our afternoon visit caused us to have to look against the sun towards the east-facing Otsujigataki Waterfall, the budding thunderstorm clouds blocked the sun every so often.
Thus, I’d say morning is probably the best time to visit for the most optimal lighting (not to mention perhaps cooler temperatures).
Nevertheless, we found this place to be quite relaxing and low-key, especially when you consider how much concrete jungle we had to go drive through to get here from Koriyama via Sukagawa (see directions below).
Overall, we spent about 45 minutes away from the car, but this was really a place where you can be very quick about a visit or linger for as long as you’d like.
The Otsuji Waterfall resides in Sukagawa City near Koriyama in the Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. It may be administered by the Sukagawa City Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Tamagawa Village Tourism website.
There are many ways to get here, but I’ll just focus this section on how we drove there from the Koriyama View Hotel, where we were staying.
Starting from the Koriyama View Hotel in the city’s center, we basically headed south for over 13km on the Route 17, which eventually became the Route 4 after about 7km.
We then turned left onto the National Route 118 on the left and followed it for just about 5km.
Finally, we turned left onto a local road leading us to the car park for the Otsujiga Falls, which was just to the south of the road bridge over the Abukuma River.
Note that there were two entrances to the local access road deviating from the Route 118 – one before the river and one after it.
We happened to take the one before the river, where the unpaved car park would be on the left just after the bridge over the Abukuma River.
This way didn’t have a sign indicating the way to the falls, but it did have a sign for the Michinoku Cycling Road (basically it was GoogleMaps trying to get us to the falls via the shortest distance).
If we happened to stay on the Route 118 for just 500m further, then there would have been a wider, sharper turn on the left just past the Abukuma River.
Once on the local access road from here, we would follow it to the car park for Ostujiga Falls on the right just before the bridge on this local road crosses the Abukuma River.
Overall, this drive (primarily on surface streets) took us about 40 minutes (though GoogleMaps says it should take about 30 minutes).
For some geographical context, Sukagawa was about 13km (30 minutes drive) south of Koriyama, 66km (about 1 hour drive) south of Fukushima City, 109km (about 90 minutes drive) northeast of Utsunomiya, 143km (about 2 hours drive) southwest of Sendai, 257km (over 3 hours drive) north of Narita International Airport, and 232km (about 3 hours drive) north of Tokyo.
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