About Ubagataki Waterfall (Ubagataki [姥ヶ滝])
The Ubagataki Waterfall (ubagataki [姥ヶ滝]; “Old Woman’s Waterfall”) was a large yet unusual yellow waterfall where the Oyadani Stream is said to drop 76m in height (though I’ve seen one site claim it’s 111m tall!) with a width up to 100m.
The name of the waterfall is said to come from an old Buddhist nun named Toran Ni Sennin who combed her hair under the falls when its flow segmented into lines that looked like her white hair.
Further making this waterfall memorable was a pair of foot baths (Oyadani no Yu hot spring) across the Jadanigawa River (a tributary of the Ozo River, which the Oyadani spills into).
In addition to the attractions around the waterfall, we also had to get to the trailhead in the first place let alone hike the trail.
It was during the drive to its trailhead along the Hakusan-Shirakawa White Road Toll Road that we enjoyed some mindblowing mountain- and gorge views, which included intermediate waterfalls along the way.
In a two kilometer stretch, there were named waterfalls called Shiritaka Falls, Akachi Falls, and Kamasoko Falls.
Even the short trail (said to take 40 minutes total) to the Ubagataki Waterfall gave us an opportunity to see other intermediate waterfalls and cascades in addition to sinter cones attesting to Mt Hakusan’s active geology.
Indeed, large waterfalls with unusual attributes like this don’t come often, and it’s why I’m seriously considering shaking up our Japan Top 10 Waterfalls List with this waterfall as an entry.
Experiencing the Ubagataki Falls
From the Jadani Gardens car park (P4) along the White Road (see directions below), we walked to a signed trailhead and a steep series of steps following a ridge before descending into the forested V-shaped Jadani Canyon.
Once the steps flattened out by the Jadanigawa River roughly over 200m from the car park, the trail then followed the river downstream to the east.
Across the river, we managed to get partial views of the Kooyudani Waterfall (Little Oyadani Falls or 小親谷の滝), which was kind of like a teaser waterfall hinting at what’s to come.
The next 500m of trail skirted along the Jadanigawa River on a combination of ledges, catwalks, and a couple of tunnels before reaching a split in the trail.
Given the location of this stretch of the trail at the bottom of the gorge, I’m sure it’s prone to flooding and landslides, which may close access to the falls from time to time.
Anyways, the path to the right of the split led down to the first of two foot baths as well as an angled look right across the river at the Ubagataki Waterfall.
The path on the left climbed up to a bathroom facility before dropping down another set of steps leading to the second foot bath pool and an even more frontal view of the Ubagataki Waterfall.
The trail actually kept going further downstream along the Jadanigawa, which yielded additional viewing angles of the Ubagataki Falls.
In hindsight, I should have continued on this trail to the sinter cones at its end, which I didn’t know about until after the fact.
Anyways, during our July 2023 visit, the foot baths were a bit on the cold side though apparently I’ve read that these waters are typically hot (maybe the combination of lots of rain and snowmelt really cooled things down).
Nevertheless, these foot baths were so well situated that it was real tempting to dip the feet in the pools and just stare at the Ubagataki Waterfall do its thing.
Only the threat of rain (as it started to sprinkle and mist during our early July 2023 visit) hastened us to get moving.
So after having our fill of the falls, we went back the way we came, and had to deal with the final climb up the steps back up to the car park.
Overall, we spent about an hour away from the car, which covered a round-trip distance of about 1.5km according to my GPS logs.
Finally, in addition to how we’ve been calling this waterfall the Ubagataki Waterfall, you might see this waterfall written as Uba Falls, Uba Waterfall, Ubaga Falls, Ubaga Waterfall, and Ubagataki Falls.
All these variations have to do with the lack of a consensus on how to Romanize Japanese place names, especially regarding whether or not to include the particle (“ga” in this case) as well as “taki”, which is Japanese for “waterfall”.
The Ubagataki Waterfall resides within the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road in the Jadani National Forest in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It may be administered by the local authorities of Hakusan. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Official Ishikawa Travel website or the Hakusan Shirakawa White Road Official website.
Since there are many ways to get here, I’ll only focus the detailed driving directions on the White Road part of the drive.
You can use Google Maps or whatever routing software of your choice to get to Hakusan from the west or Shirakawa-go from the east.
Coming from the Route 157 and 360 junction (about 31km or over 30 minutes drive south of Hakusan City), we drove the White Road (Route 360) east for a little over 13km to the Chugu Onsen Toll Booth.
After paying the 1700 yen to drive our passenger car onto the toll portion of the White Road, we then drove another 4km to the car park for the Ubagataki Falls on the right.
Note that along this stretch of road, starting at around 1.5km east of the toll station, there were a series of roadside waterfalls (not all of them have places to pull over).
Among these waterfalls in order (over a 2km stretch) was the Shiritakadaki Waterfall, Akachi Waterfall, and the Kamasoko Waterfall.
Overall, this section of the drive took us a little over 30 minutes.
Coming from Shirakawa-go, we’d drive west along the White Road for about 22km (at 2km is the Magari Toll Gate) to the Ubagataki car park on the left.
Note that in this direction, the Fukube-no-otaki Waterfall was about 20km west of Shirakawa-go or 2km east of Ubagataki car park, right at a hairpin bend.
The drive in this direction took us a little less than an hour.
For some geographical context, Shirakawa-go was about 73km (under 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Hakusan City, 50km (about 1 hour drive) northwest of Takayama, 84km (over an hour drive) southwest of Toyama, 107km (about 3 hours drive) east of Fukui, 157km (over 2 hours drive) north of Nagoya, and 305km (about 4 hours drive) northeast of Osaka.
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