Shirahige Waterfall (shirahige-no-taki [白ひげの滝])

Biei / Asahikawa / Shirogane Onsen, Hokkaido, Japan

About Shirahige Waterfall (shirahige-no-taki [白ひげの滝])


Hiking Distance: 400m round trip
Suggested Time: 15 minutes

Date first visited: 2023-07-15
Date last visited: 2023-07-15

Waterfall Latitude: 43.47466
Waterfall Longitude: 142.63939

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

The Shirahige Waterfall (shirahige-no-taki [白ひげの滝]; “White Beard Falls”) was an attractively wide waterfall spilling into the sky blue Biei River backed by attractive peaks.

This waterfall was actually a wide series of springs emerging from cliffs beneath hot springs resorts at the Shirogane Onsen village.

Shirahige_Falls_027_07142023 - The Shirahige Waterfall in Hokkaido
The Shirahige Waterfall in Hokkaido

In a way, it reminded me a lot of Mossbrae Falls near Mt Shasta in Northern California, where the Sacramento River went right in front of its series of springs.

However, in this instance, we got to view the waterfall and the gorge it spilled into from a bridge spanning the Biei River.

By the way, this waterfall should not be confused with the Shirogane Waterfall in Ginzan Onsen within the Yamagata Prefecture.

The Shirahige Waterfall happens to be in the Shirogane Onsen so it can easily be called the Shirogane Waterfall mistakenly.

Shirahige_Falls_046_07142023 - Context of the bridge over the Biei River and the Shirahige Waterfall
Context of the bridge over the Biei River and the Shirahige Waterfall

In any case, visiting the Shirahige Falls was easy as it was a mere 150-200m walk from the car park and bus stop (see directions below) to the bridge above the Biei River.

The top down view over the Biei River and the Shirahige Falls really brings out its context as well as the colors of the water, especially if the weather cooperates and the sun comes out.

I’m sure there can be other ways to get to this waterfall if you happen to be staying at one of the resorts in the Shirogane Onsen town.

Beyond the Biei River Bridge in Shirogane Onsen, there was also a sheltered stepped pathway ascending towards the Tokachidake Volcano Observatory and Information Center.

Shirahige_Falls_004_iPhone_07152023 - Portrait view of the Shirahige Falls and the backing mountains with the blue Biei River running in front of all this scenery
Portrait view of the Shirahige Falls and the backing mountains with the blue Biei River running in front of all this scenery

That path was closed during our visit, but bad weather also kept any of the views of neighboring volcanos and peaks shrouded in clouds.

Nevertheless, we only spent about 35 minutes away from the car.

This waterfall was also a tour bus stop so periodically, the bridge gets inundated with lots of people before they move on.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the blue we saw in the Biei River at Shirahige Falls was the very same one that feeds the man-made (Shirogane or Biei) Blue Pond about 3km further downstream.

Shirahige_Falls_081_07142023 - Looking back at a large crowd of people on the bridge over the Biei River fronting the Shirahige Waterfall. This burst of visitors was the result of a tour bus
Looking back at a large crowd of people on the bridge over the Biei River fronting the Shirahige Waterfall. This burst of visitors was the result of a tour bus

That’s a famous, man-made pool with ghostly standing trees that are partially submerged, and the pronounced blue color of the water really reminds me of the alpine lakes of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, China.

It’s said that the color of the water is the result of high levels of aluminum hydroxide.

Speaking of man-made interventions, it’s also speculated that the Shirahige Falls may have some degree of man-modification since it sits below the Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel.

So the outflow of the onsen waters of various spas in the Shirogane Onsen town may very well feed this water to further amplify its flow on top of what’s already naturally there.

Authorities

The Shirahige Waterfall resides in the Shirogane Onsen area near the town of Biei in Hokkaido, Japan. It may be administered by the local authorities of Biei. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Biei Town website.

Shirahige_Falls_001_07142023 - Looking towards the Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel, which happens to be situated pretty much above the Shirahige Waterfall
Shirahige_Falls_005_07142023 - Looking down some kind of channel that didn't seem to have surface water on it, but I suspect it's this channel that's responsible for the emergence of Shirahige Falls as a spring further below
Shirahige_Falls_008_07142023 - Looking towards the bridge that turned out to be the viewing area for the Shirahige Falls
Shirahige_Falls_009_07142023 - Looking back from the Shirahige Waterfall bridge towards some other car park in front of the what I think might be part of the Hotel Park Hills?
Shirahige_Falls_014_07142023 - Going onto the bridge over the Biei River with a top down view in front of the Shirahige Falls
Shirahige_Falls_016_07142023 - First look down at the color Biei River fronting the attractive Shirahige Waterfall
Shirahige_Falls_017_07142023 - Trying to capture the entire context of the Shirahige Falls with the attractive mountains in the background
Shirahige_Falls_029_07142023 - Looking further upstream on the Biei River towards some other gushing cascade in the distance
Shirahige_Falls_031_07142023 - Another contextual look at the Shirahige Falls and backing peaks in a bit of a brighter shot than before
Shirahige_Falls_033_07142023 - Portrait view of the Shirahige Falls and the backing mountains with the Biei River running through the bottom
Shirahige_Falls_048_07142023 - More zoomed in look towards the top of the Shirahige Waterfalls where it seemed like there were lots of buildings above it making me wonder if the waterfall was really natural or not
Shirahige_Falls_043_07142023 - Another focused look right at the Shirahige Waterfall as seen from the bridge
Shirahige_Falls_050_07142023 - During my July 2023 visit, I did some exploring past the bridge over the Biei River just to see where it went
Shirahige_Falls_052_07142023 - A sheltered pathway leading up to the Tokachidake Volcano Info Center (which can also be driven up to as well)
Shirahige_Falls_053_07142023 - Looking back at the context of the bridge over the Biei River and a hint of the Shirahige Falls beneath it
Shirahige_Falls_057_07142023 - Another look down at the Shirahige Waterfall with bright blue Biei River going right across it
Shirahige_Falls_061_07142023 - Heading right back to the car park after having had our fill of the Shirahige Waterfall
Shirahige_Falls_062_07142023 - The bridge on the left went to the Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel, but the path on the right went to the public car park
Shirahige_Falls_071_07142023 - Last look at the channel giving rise to the Shirahige Waterfall
Shirahige_Falls_072_07142023 - An old school bus stop right in front of the Shirogane Free Harbour
Shirahige_Falls_078_07142023 - I couldn't help but think of the Phoebe Bridgers song 'Kyoto' when she says 'they still have pay phones' when I see this pay phone at the Shirogane Onsen


The Shirahige Waterfall resides in the Shirogane Onsen village near Biei.

From Asahikawa, we would pretty much drive south on the Route 237 towards the town of Biei (roughly 31km).

Drive_to_Shirahige_Falls_016_MingSung_07152023 - Our drive to the Shirogane Onsen and the Shirahige Falls involved quite a bit of twisty mountain roads under some pretty crummy weather conditions
Our drive to the Shirogane Onsen and the Shirahige Falls involved quite a bit of twisty mountain roads under some pretty crummy weather conditions

Once in Biei, we then followed the signs for the Shirogane Onsen, which ultimately took us on the local road 966 heading southeast towards the Shirogane Onsen.

Notice that at around 17km, the signed turnoff for the Shirogane Blue Pond would be on the left (parking there costed us 520 yen according to my notes.

At about 3km later or 20km from Biei, there was a car park and bus stop area between the Shirogane Free Harbour and a couple of buildings all fronting the Daisetsuzan Shirogane Kanko Hotel.

Overall, this drive would take about an hour (it’s about 25km or over 30 minutes drive between Biei and Asahikawa).

Shirahige_Falls_073_07142023 - Looking towards the public car park before the Daisetsuzan Shirogane Kanko Hotel from the bus stop in front of Shirogane Free Harbour
Looking towards the public car park before the Daisetsuzan Shirogane Kanko Hotel from the bus stop in front of Shirogane Free Harbour

For some geographical context, Biei was about 25km (30 minutes drive) north of Nakafurano, 25km (over 30 minutes drive) southeast of Asahikawa, 164km (about 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Sapporo, 262km (about 3.5 hours drive) northeast of Noboribetsu Onsen, and 463km (about 6 hours drive) northeast of Hakodate.

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Checking out the view of the falls from the bridge


Long video starting from the observatory stairs entrance to the viewing bridge area showing as many viewable areas as possible

Tagged with: shirahige falls, shirahigenotaki, shirogane falls, shirogane waterfall, shiroganenotaki, kamikawa-gun, biei, asahikawa, shirogane, blue pond



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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