About Sakura Waterfall (sakura-no-taki [さくらの滝])
The Sakura Waterfall (sakura-no-taki [さくらの滝]; “Cherry Blossom Falls”) was where the Shari River dropped 3.7m over its entire width with a bit of a horseshoe shape across its brink.
While the waterfall had a modest size, it was the salmon run (where the fish tries to jump over the falls to continue further upstream to spawn) that really made the experience.
It turned out that the waterfall was named by the public in 2002, and it was an ode to the cherry salmon species here (called sakura-masu) that can be a pink color like the namesake cherry blossom.
The cherry salmon tends to start off with a silver color in July, but they then gradually become a cherry color in August when the egg-laying season approaches.
The run is said to occur from early June to early August though other sources say it’s more like July, and our visit happened in mid-July so this natural phenomenon didn’t disappoint!
Once at the large unpaved car park, it was a short jaunt down to the viewing area right beside the plunge pool fronting the Sakura Falls.
Now because bears naturally live in this part of Japan, it comes as no surprise that sometimes they may try to feast on these salmon (at which time the viewing area may be off limits).
Nevertheless, despite its somewhat obscure nature, Sakura Falls was still popular as we not only saw numerous Japanese visitors, but we also saw gaijin (foreigners) as well.
That said, fishing is banned throughout the Shari River to ensure this natural phenomenon can continue its normal annual cycle.
The Sakura Waterfall resides near the village of Sattsuru and Kiyosato in the Shari District, Hokkaido, Japan. It may be administered by the local authorities at Kiyosato. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Kiyosato Tourist Association website.
While there are many ways of getting to this rural farmland part of the northeast of the island, I’ll just describe how we’d drive here from the town of Shari.
So from the center of Shari, we’d drive south until we reach the Route 244/334, where we’d then head west until both the 244 and 344 split off at an intersection on the southern outskirts of Shari Town.
From this junction, we’d continue south on the Route 344 about 5.4km before the road splits off with the Route 1115.
Keeping left on the Route 1115, we then followed this road for another 17.8km to a turnoff on the left near the Aoba Shrine.
Taking this turnoff on the left, we then drove 750m before turning to the right at a three-way intersection on the east side of the Shari River.
Then, we drove south on this access road for the next 1.9km (there ahould be signs for Sakura Falls at this point though they’re small and they tend to be in Japanese).
Finally, we turned right into the large unpaved car park area for the Sakura Falls, where there’s also port-a-potties as well as some signage on the opposite end of the clearing closer to the start of the short walk.
Overall, this drive should take over 30 minutes.
For some geographical context, Kiyosato was about 13km (over 15 minutes drive) southwest of Shari, 48km (about an hour drive) southwest of Utoro, 120km (over 2 hours drive) east of Engaru, 120km (over 2 hours drive) north of Kushiro, 229km (over 3.5 hours drive) east of Asahikawa, and 365km (over 5 hours drive) northeast of Sapporo.
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