The Saruo Waterfall (Saruo-daki [猿尾滝]; also called just Saruo Falls) was one of the easiest waterfalls that we managed to see that was off the beaten path in Japan. For a waterfall that was included as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls as blessed by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, that was saying something. Indeed, we only had to walk about a couple of minutes from the nearest car park (see directions below) to get right up to the base of this two-tiered waterfall. So even with the rainy weather that we experienced during our visit, its accessibility didn’t stop the pretty consistent traffic of people who’d spend a few minutes here before leaving.
My Dad said that this waterfall’s kanji translated into something like “Monkey Tail Falls” probably because someone imagined the tall waterfall resembling the tail of a monkey. However, I found this to be baffling because the monkeys in Japan (typically “snow monkeys” or macaques) didn’t seem to have long tails as what seemed to be suggested here. Regardless, the falls was said to be 60m in cumulative height where the upper tier was 39m and the lower tier was 21m.
There wasn’t a whole lot of variety to the way we experienced the Saruo Waterfall (as you can see from the photos on this page). I suspect part of the problem was that there was a trail that ascended the slopes to perhaps a more elevated lookout or perhaps to the top of the falls, but that trail was closed during our visit. Another interesting aspect about our visit to this waterfall was that there appeared to be a post box right at the trailhead of the short walk. This had to be one of the more scenic mailboxes I’ve seen!
We’ll describe the driving directions from Tottori since that was where we made our drive from. We’ll just highlight the most direct route (even though we didn’t take it as we wound up taking a more scenic route). That said, we’ll also provide directions from the Tendaki Waterfall since that was where we continued our drive to reach the Saruo Falls.
So the most direct route from Tottori would be to follow the Route 9 east for about 54km before turning left onto the local road leading to the Saruo Falls. By the way, the Route 178 branched off from the Route 9 about 8km east of the Tottori Sand Dunes or about 11km east of Tottori City. Route 178 was the scenic coastal road following the Anami Coast, and that was the scenic route that we took. Anyways, the sign for the Saruo Falls indicating the left turn was easy to miss so I’d recommend that when you’ve crossed over a bridge spanning the Tsukuriyamagawa, then look for the signed turnoff. The car park was another kilometer beyond the turnoff, and it was on our right. There was a cafe here as well a restroom facility as well as a sign board. Overall, this drive was said to take over an hour.
Coming from the Tendaki Waterfall, we took took the local road down to the Route 482 then turned left and followed this road for about 13km to its junction with the Route 9. We then turned left to go west on Route 9 where we then drove for the next 16km before turning right onto the local road leading the last kilometer to the Saruo Waterfall. Again, this turnoff comes up pretty quickly so if you find you’ve crossed a bridge over the Tsukuriyama River, then you’ve missed the turnoff and went too far.
To give you some geographical context, the city of Tottori was 131km (2 hours drive) north of Himeji, 173km (2.5 hours drive) northwest of Kobe, 189km (about 3 hours drive) northwest of Osaka, and 216km (over 3 hours drive) west-northwest of Kyoto.
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