About Tendaki Waterfall (Tendaki [天滝])
The Tendaki Waterfall (Tendaki [天滝]; also just called Tendaki or Tendaki Falls meaning “Heaven Falls” or “Sky Falls”) was a bit of a waterfall-saturation hike for us. This was because the trail had to have featured at least seven named waterfalls before reaching the tall Tendaki. It was designated as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls as blessed by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, and at a reported 98m tall, we can see why. Anyways, the named intermediate waterfalls were (in order): Shinobinotaki, Iwamanotaki, Itotaki, Renrinotaki, Kuonnotaki, Meotodaki, and Tsuzumigataki. To be honest, we lost track of which waterfall was what as they kind of blended into the background while quite a few of them were either hard to see or weren’t significant enough to be that noticeable. At the main lookout for the falls, there was also a shrine, where some kids that showed up after us were having a blast striking the gong.
We had quite a bit of time to take in the scenery and the intermediate waterfalls as the trail was said to be 1.2km or 40 minutes in each direction (i.e. 2.4km round trip or about 80 minutes on the hiking alone). The trail was mostly uphill the entire way so even though it was raining on the day of our visit, we were still sweating for most of the hike. There were signs essentially tracking our progress at every 100m or so as we’d see writings telling us how far we had gone and how much further we had to go. And there were also plenty of signs indicating that we were in bear habitat while several sections were prone to rock falls.
Most of the well-defined trail was hugging mountain slopes and even hugged up against some large rock cliffs or boulders in a few spots. In the narrowest spots, there were railings to assure the unsure. Anyways, as we merrily passed one cascade after another throughout the hike, we did notice that the last waterfall before the main one was both easily seen as well as significant enough to make us pause for a bit. Shortly after that seventh waterfall, we then reached an odd toilet facility (strange that they’d put one way out here so far from the nearest road) before reaching a shelter. Shortly after the shelter, there was a lookout where we caught our first partial glimpse of the Tendaki Waterfall. But then, we had to climb up a series of metal steps before finally reaching the main overlook where there was also a shrine.
The trail actually kept going on beyond the shrine, but it wasn’t long before I encountered trail damage from a landslide. I wasn’t sure if it was ok to keep going but I decided not to press my luck. It was a shame because I suspected that continuing on the trail could have led up to a more elevated view of the Tendaki Waterfall, which would make the falls appear even taller than the main lookout by the shrine (where it somehow didn’t seem as tall as the 98m figure that was stated, but it could be the illusion of forced perspective working against the falls). In any case, we wound up spending nearly 2 hours, which was a bit more than the estimated 40 minutes in each direction, but we weren’t exactly in much of a hurry during our visit. That said, the timing of our visit and departure seemed about right given the circumstances because we did see lots of people heading to the falls when we were heading back. It wasn’t so busy earlier in the morning on the way there.
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 Harafudo Waterfall since that was where we continued our drive to reach the Tendaki Falls.
So the most direct route from Tottori would be to follow the Route 29 for about 53km before turning left onto the Route 482. We then drove on the 482 for about 12km before turning left at a signposted turnoff, which then ascended a narrowing road to a modestly-sized car park some 1.5km further. Overall, this drive was said to take under an hour to go the 34km distance.
Coming from the Harafudo Waterfall, we took the local road down to the Route 29 then turned left to go north on the main highway for about 12km before turning right onto the Route 482. Then, follow the Route 482 as directed above before following the signs up the local road to the limited-space car park for Tendaki. We did notice that there was also more spillover parking if the nearest lot was full. This drive wound up taking us about 40 minutes.
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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