About Sekiyama Waterfall (sekiyama-otaki [関山大滝])
The Sekiyama Waterfall (sekiyama-o-taki [関山大滝]; “Gateway Mountain Great Falls?” or just Sekiyama Great Falls) was an impressively gushing roadside waterfall located near Sekiyama Mountain between Sendai and Yamagata.
From translating the kanji, seki means “connection” or “gateway”, and perhaps it’s a fitting name considering the road it’s beside is the National Route 48 corridor, which seems to be a very busy route.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised by how much traffic this route saw during our July 2023 visit because it’s connecting one city on the coast and another one in the mountains.
In any case, the Sekiyama Falls was where the Midare River dropped a reported 10m over a width of 15m making this more of a block-type waterfall.
It possessed a bit of a rounded trapezoidal shape, which you might notice in the photo above, though that observation can only be made from an elevated lookout right behind the Otaki Drive-in Izumiya.
This drive-in was a souvenir shop, where I tried some local skewers and takeaway foods, but they also had some seating nearby the lookout so you can eat with a nice view of the falls.
Next to the upper lookout, there was also a series of steps descending to a red bridge spanning the Midare River with a frontal-but-partial view of the Sekiyama Falls.
The volume had pretty high volume during our mid-Summer visit (which also happens to be monsoon season in Japan), but I have seen pictures of this falls with less flow towards the colorful Autumn season.
Overall, our visit was nearly an hour, but the vast majority of that time was picture-taking and letting my niece and nephew play with rocks beneath the bridge in front of the falls.
Finally, I do have to warn that across the Route 48 from the Otaki Drive-in Izumiya was a public restroom and another cafe that also served up some creamy soft serve.
However, we had to be VERY careful about crossing this road given how much high speed traffic (including truck traffic) there was here.
In the back of my mind, I almost feel like this spot was an accident waiting to happen if there are no speed bumps or other means of slowing down the traffic.
The Sekiyama Waterfall resides near the town of Higashine, which was like a suburb in Northern Yamagata City in the Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. It may be administered by the local authorities of Higashine. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Yamagata Tourism website.
I’ll just describe how we were able to drive here from Sendai.
So from Sendai, we pretty much headed west on the National Route 48 for about 40km.
This was a two-lane mountain road where traffic was moving along as if it was a highway (so expect trucks going at high speeds here).
The car park in front of the Otaki Drive-in Izumiya was on the left side though there was also parking on the right side in front of a restroom along with a small cafe serving up deliciously, creamy (Hokkaido Milk?) soft serve.
Overall, this drive took us around an hour.
By the way, Higashine was only about 12km further to the west of the Sekiyama Waterfall, which should take less than a half-hour to get to the falls from there.
For some geographical context, Higashine was about 23km (30 minutes drive) north of Yamagata City, 53km (a little over an 1 hour drive) west of Sendai, 122km (under 2 hours drive) north of Fukushima, and 395km (over 4.5 hours drive) north of Tokyo.
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