About Ryusoga Waterfall (Ryusogataki [龍双ケ滝])
The Ryusoga Waterfall (ryusogataki [龍双ケ滝]; “Twin Dragon Falls”) was an attractive 60m fan-shaped waterfall spreading over its underlying rounded rock surface as it drops into the Hiedagawa River (though Garmin’s map called it “Hekogawa”).
It had a nice rippling appearance that was very conducive to taking long exposure photographs, which was made easier by railings to help stabilize the camera (assuming a tripod wasn’t brought).
This waterfall has some notoriety because it’s the Fukui Prefecture’s only waterfall that was chosen to be on the Japan Top 100 Waterfalls List, which was published in 1990 by the Japan Ministry of the Environment.
That said, we had a difficult time trying to capture the entirety of the waterfall in photographs given how close we were to it combined with the waterfall’s overall size.
Our visit took place in early July 2023, which was pretty much Summer, and that meant the foliage around the falls was probably the thickest.
I’d imagine that the Ryuso Falls would be best visited in the Autumn when the leaves start falling in addition to changing colors, which really makes the waterfall photogenic.
Experiencing the Ryusoga Falls
This was essentially a roadside waterfall as the local road 34 passed right before it (see directions below).
However, due to rockfall issues, signs indicated that you’re not supposed to park in the nearest pullout (which only has room for a car or two anyways).
Instead, the signs indicated that you should park at larger lots about 200m before or 150m after the falls, and that was what we did to better ensure our cars would have a rock smash them.
Once we got to the larger lot, we then walked back on the road to the falls, where we could better experience the falls’ scale and characteristics.
From further away, we could better appreciate its scale though there was always some kind of foliage obstruction so photos didn’t do it justice.
From up close (especially at the bottom of the steps leading down to its base), the falls was almost overwhelming as there was no way we could capture the whole thing in one frame (even in pano mode on an iPhone).
At least there was plenty of spray at the falls, which offset the humidity in the Summer, and it was a refreshing roadside stop considering how much driving on narrow roads were involved to even get here (as well as getting out of here).
Overall, we spent about 30 minutes away from the car though the vast majority of that time was spent taking pictures and videos.
Finally, it’s worth noting that given its location along a single-lane road deep in the mountains between Ikeda and Ono, access to the falls would not be possible in the Winter (especially between December and March) due to snow.
Heck, even during our early July 2023 visit, there were still lots of fallen branches on the single-lane road, which goes to show you how quick and primitive the road conditions here were.
The Meaning Behind Ryuso
It’s said that the Ryuso Falls (which can also be referred to as Ryusoga Falls, Ryusogataki, Ryuso Waterfall, Ryusoga Waterfall, Ryusogataki Falls, etc.) was named after a priest who also went by the name of Ryuso.
This monk apparently performed ascetic practices at the falls while carving images of deities and of Buddha.
To that effect, we did notice one small eerie-looking doll put into a small alcove shrine in the forbidden pullout across the falls (though I’m not sure what that was all about).
Another legend said that there was once a dragon who lived in the water, and it would use the waterfall to climb out of the gorge and then fly into the sky.
The word ryu (龍) means “dragon” and the word so (双) means “twin” so I’d imagine its translation literally means “twin dragon” or “dragon twin”.
The Ryusoga Waterfall resides between Ikeda and Ono, which are both east of Echizen of the Fukui Prefecture. 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 the Ikeda Farm Village Tourist Association website.
We’ll describe how we drove here from the west as well as how we’d drive here coming from the east.
Driving from Echizen/Fukui to Ryusoga Falls
So assuming that we headed north on the E8 Expressway, we exited at the Sabae IC, and then we drove east on the Route 105 as we eventually joined up with Route 18 continuing to head east.
This stretch persisted for the next 6.5km before we turned right onto the Route 243 and then left onto the Route 2 some 1.4km later.
Continuing east on the 2, we then drove about 8km to its intersection with the Route 476, where we turned left and followed this road for just under 4km to the turnoff for the local road 34 on the right.
Then, we took this local road 34 east for about 7.5km to the Ryusoga Falls (note the P1 parking spaces are about 200m before the falls and the P2 parking spaces are about 150m past the falls; we took the latter one).
Driving from Ono to Ryusoga Falls
Coming from the other direction from the intersection of the Route 158 and Route 157, we’d go south on the Route 157 for about 1.8km before turning right onto a local street and then driving 800m to another intersection.
Turning right at this intersection, we’d then drive south as it’d eventually become the local road 34, and we’d follow this road for about 15km to the P2 car park for the Ryusoga Falls.
Note that this road can be very narrow with dropoff exposure in spots, and we encountered many fallen branches along this stretch as well.
So definitely take your time if you’re taking this route!
Overall, this drive took us a little less than 3 hours to get from Kyoto to the Ryusoga Falls.
However, it took us about 45 minutes to drive the twisty stretch on Route 34 between Ryusoga Falls and a supermarket in Ono.
For some geographical context, Echizen was about 48km (under an hour drive) southwest of Echizen-Ono, 129km (over 3 hours drive) west of Shirakawa-go via the Hakusan White Road Toll Road, 167km (over 2 hours drive) north of Kyoto, 172km (over 2.5 hours drive) west of Takayama, and 211km (over 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Osaka.
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