About Tamasudare Waterfall (tamasudare-no-taki [玉簾の滝])
The Tamasudare Waterfall (tamasudare-no-taki [玉簾の滝]; “Jade Curtain Falls?”) was said to be the tallest waterfall in the Yamagata Prefecture at a towering 63m.
The waterfall was tamasudare because its flow somehow was reminiscent of jade (which you might be able to guess from the kanji).
I’ve also seen the latter part of the name sudare or 簾 to mean “blinds” (or curtain, I guess), but a sign here noted that this waterfall used to be called Shiraito Falls meaning “white curtain”.
This name was said to have been given 1000 years ago by Kobo Daishi, who was the founder of the Shingon branch of Japanese Buddhism.
It’s even said that there’s a statue of the Daisho Fudo Myo-o hidden in the alcove half way up behind the falls.
Well, I didn’t bother wading through the plunge pool and into the spray to test out that claim, but I digress.
Tamasudare Falls Underappreciated?
Even though this waterfall is easy to access (that is if you have a car though you’re likely to have one if you’re in this part of Japan), in my experiences, it’s not very busy.
In fact, this waterfall wasn’t even included in the Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls List published by the Ministry of the Environment in 1990.
As you can see from the photos on this page, personally I’d argue that this waterfall should replace the nearby Mogami Shiraito Waterfall on that list (something I’ll get more into in that write-up).
Nevertheless, this demonstrates that as spot on as the Top 100 Japan Waterfalls List is, it isn’t perfect.
Heck, I’d argue that Tamasudare Falls seems to be getting the shaft as far as wider recognition is concerned as this waterfall had other things going for it.
For example, during my excursions to this waterfall, I managed to see Mt Chokai from a distance while also experiencing the Mitake Shrine on its short walk.
Had I been here during the cherry blossom season (which tends to happen about a month later than the more known spots in Tokyo and Kyoto), there would be such blooms along the trail further adding color to the experience.
Furthermore, on certain days of the year (e.g. Golden Week in early May or Obon season in mid-August), they light up the waterfall until 10pm at night.
And in the bitterly cold Winters, some people are even able to use the Tamasudare Falls for ice climbing.
Experiencing Tamasudare Falls
Finally, as far as its accessibility is concerned, according to my GPS logs, the path to Tamasudare Falls was a mere 700m each way (taking about 10 minutes in each direction).
However, the excursion can be done in a loop straddling either side of the Takinosawa Stream in the latter half of the walk.
This path was mostly paved and quite flat, and thus I even managed to visit this place twice due to its ease of access.
By the way, the reason why I came here twice was that on my first visit in the evening, I learned after the fact that the falls wasn’t lit up, and that compelled me to come back the following morning.
However, when I came back the following morning, it came after we had a pretty heavy rain storm that hit the area (let alone most of Japan) overnight.
That wound up swelling the waterfall perhaps beyond the stated 5m wide that’s mentioned in the literature (which you might have noticed in the photos on this page)!
Overall, I spent between 25 and 50 minutes, respectively my visits, and that increased time on my second visit was due to spending more time taking pictures with the better lighting.
That said, my Mom did suffer some mosquito bites (that wound up swelling up her foot) on that morning visit so you may want to cover up or put on bug repellent here.
The Tamasudare Waterfall resides near the city of Sakata in the Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. It may be administered by the Sakata City Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Yamagata Tourism Association website for leads.
The Tamasudare Waterfall resides near the city of Sakata in the Yamagata Prefecture.
Since we were staying in Sakata when we visited the falls, I’ll just describe how I drove there from the city center.
From the Sankyo-Soko Rice Storehouses Site car park, I basically turned left on the Route 353 to go over the bridge spanning the Niida River.
Then, I followed the Route 353 (becoming Route 42 along the way) for about 2.4km to a traffic light where the Route 42 continues to the right.
Turning right on the 42, I then followed the 42 (eventually becoming the Route 344) for about 9.6km to its junction with the Route 345.
Turning left onto the Route 345, I then drove 600m before turning right at the light onto the Route 344.
Next, I drove the Route 344 for 300m before turning left at the light to go north on the Route 366 (heading towards Masuda).
Once on the 366, there will finally be a sign for Tamasudare Falls (in kanji though) finally letting me know that I’m on the right track.
I then followed the Route 366 for about the next 11km before turning right onto the Road 368 (there was another Tamasudare Falls sign at this turn).
Going across the bridge, I then turned left at the next intersection (again, there was another Tamasudare Falls sign), and finally I followed this access road for the remaining 700m to the large car park on the left.
Overall, this drive typically took me about 40-45 minutes (though Google Maps tended to make me go on some other small roads making for more complicated directions than what I explained above).
For some geographical context, Sakata was 75km (under 90 minutes drive) northwest of Obanazawa, about 69km (under 90 minutes drive) south of Yurihonjo, 115km (under 2 hours drive) northwest of Yamagata City, 109km (under 2 hours drive) south of Akita, 176km (about 2.5 hours drive) northwest of Sendai, 160km (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Niigata, and 497km (about 6.5 hours drive) north of Tokyo.
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