Ubagataki Waterfall (Ubagataki [姥ヶ滝])

White Road / Mt Hakusan / Shirakawago, Ishikawa, Japan

About Ubagataki Waterfall (Ubagataki [姥ヶ滝])


Hiking Distance: about 1.5km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2023-07-05
Date last visited: 2023-07-05

Waterfall Latitude: 36.25467
Waterfall Longitude: 136.7982

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Ubagataki_102_07042023 - The Ubagataki Waterfall in the Ishikawa Prefecture
The Ubagataki Waterfall in the Ishikawa Prefecture

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.

Ubagataki_005_iPhone_07052023 - One of the foot bath hot springs across the Jadanigawa River from the Ubagataki Waterfall, making it hard to leave this place upon soaking and watching the waterfall
One of the foot bath hot springs across the Jadanigawa River from the Ubagataki Waterfall, making it hard to leave this place upon soaking and watching the waterfall

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.

Ubagataki_016_07042023 - The first 200m or so of the trail involved descending this slope and ridge into the forested banks of the Jadanigawa River way down at the bottom of this gorge
The first 200m or so of the trail involved descending this slope and ridge into the forested banks of the Jadanigawa River way down at the bottom of this gorge

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.

Ubagataki_050_07042023 - The Ubagataki Trail following along the Jadanigawa River, which had water that was quite clear, but it also hugged a ledge that I'd imagine can be prone to flooding as well as landslides
The Ubagataki Trail following along the Jadanigawa River, which had water that was quite clear, but it also hugged a ledge that I’d imagine can be prone to flooding as well as landslides

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).

Ubagataki_110_07042023 - The ladies enjoying the second foot bath while also checking out the Ubagataki Waterfall at the same time
The ladies enjoying the second foot bath while also checking out the Ubagataki Waterfall at the same time

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.

Ubagataki_135_07042023 - Going through one of the tunnels on the way back after having had our fill of the Ubagataki Waterfall
Going through one of the tunnels on the way back after having had our fill of the Ubagataki Waterfall

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”.

Authorities

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.

Drive_to_Ubagataki_063_iPhone_07052023 - Looking back towards a bridge and gorge from around the Ubagataki Car Park
Ubagataki_002_07042023 - Looking back towards the west at the White Road along the Ubagataki car park
Ubagataki_007_07042023 - Looking back at the east side of the Ubagataki Car Park from the start of the steps of the trail down to the waterfall itself
Ubagataki_008_07042023 - Approaching the steps leading down to the Ubagataki Falls, which started behind this pay phone (yes, they still have pay phones)
Ubagataki_014_07042023 - Descending the steps as we made the steep elevation loss to get to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_018_07042023 - Looking east along the gorge from the upper reaches of the steps for the Ubagataki Falls Trail
Ubagataki_022_07042023 - Continuing the steep descent to the Jadanigawa River en route to Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_023_07042023 - Sign warning us not to go down after 4pm or else we'd have to leave the White Road on the Ishikawa (Hakusan) side instead of the Gifu (Shirakawa-go) side
Ubagataki_024_07042023 - Looking back up at the steps we'd have to climb on our way back out of the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_028_07042023 - The ladies continuing down the trail leading to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_033_07042023 - Making it down to a picnic area nearby the Jadanigawa River en route to Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_034_07042023 - Continuing on the trail to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_037_07042023 - Partial view of what I think is the Kooyudani Waterfall (at least that's what GoogleMaps called it) opposite the Jadanigawa River
Ubagataki_038_07042023 - Another look across the Jadanigawa River towards the Kooyudani Falls
Ubagataki_041_07042023 - Following along the ledge trail alongside the Jadanigawa River en route to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_045_07042023 - Looking back at a couple of the girls going past the base of the Kooyudani Waterfall along the Ubagataki Trail
Ubagataki_051_07042023 - Looking back towards the ledge-hugging trail along the Jadanigawa River en route to the Ubagataki Waterfall
Ubagataki_052_07042023 - Not all of the Ubagataki Falls Trail along the Jadanigawa was flat as we had to climb up these steps on the way to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_057_07042023 - Looking back at the Jadanigawa River and the Ubagataki Falls Trail from the top of the steps
Ubagataki_062_07042023 - Approaching one of the tunnels on the way to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_069_07042023 - Approaching another tunnel where we start to see the base of the Ubagataki Falls up ahead
Ubagataki_070_07042023 - Getting closer to the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_075_07042023 - The ladies already starting to take advantage of the Oyadani no Yu fronting the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_081_07042023 - One of the first clean looks of the Ubagataki Waterfall that I was able to get
Ubagataki_082_07042023 - Broad view of the impressive Ubagataki Falls as seen from a restroom building
Ubagataki_088_07042023 - Closer look across the Jadanigawa River at the Ubagataki Waterfall
Ubagataki_089_07042023 - Broad closer look at the Ubagataki Falls as seen from the second of the foot baths
Ubagataki_094_07042023 - Looking back along the second foot bath towards the first foot bath at the Oyadani no Yu before the Ubagataki Waterfall
Ubagataki_098_07042023 - Looking ahead at the continuation of the trail going further from the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_100_07042023 - Angled look back at the Ubagataki Falls from a little along the continuation of the trail beyond the waterfall
Ubagataki_114_07042023 - Angled look across the Ubagataki Waterfall showing its sloping behavior a bit more before its final drop into the Jadanigawa River
Ubagataki_127_07042023 - Walking past some kind of plaque about the Ubagataki Falls on the way back after having had our fill of the waterfall
Ubagataki_129_07042023 - While walking back from the Ubagataki Falls, I noticed this insect which might be some kind of millipede or centipede (I'm not sure)
Ubagataki_130_07042023 - Context of the return walk through a well-vegetated part of the Ubagataki Falls Trail, which I think might be the Jadani Gardens (though I really couldn't tell where it was during our walk)
Ubagataki_133_07042023 - Continuing back the way we came after leaving the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_137_07042023 - Mom descending the steps towards the river level on the way back from the Ubagataki Falls
Ubagataki_143_07042023 - Going back through the flood-prone portion of the Ubagataki Falls Trail
Ubagataki_148_07042023 - Mom starting to make the ascent back up from this picnic area to the Jadani Gardens Car Park P4
Ubagataki_152_07042023 - Last look into the V-shaped Jadani Canyon on the way back up to the Jadani Gardens car park
Ubagataki_153_07042023 - Mom making the final push to regain the car at the Jadani Gardens car park P4 to end our Ubagataki Falls excursion
Ubagataki_156_07042023 - When we returned to the car park, we noticed a few more cars than when we had started though we didn't recall seeing other people during our hike until we started going back up the steps


The Ubagataki Waterfall resides by the HakusanShirakawa-go White Road Toll Road in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Since there are many ways to get here, I’ll only focus the detailed driving directions on the White Road part of the drive.

Drive_to_Ubagataki_014_iPhone_07052023 - Approaching the Chugu Onsen Toll Station, where we paid the 1700 yen for our rental car to go onto the mountain road to access Ubagataki Falls
Approaching the Chugu Onsen Toll Station, where we paid the 1700 yen for our rental car to go onto the mountain road to access Ubagataki Falls

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).

Drive_to_Ubagataki_035_iPhone_07052023 - This was one of the roadside waterfalls that we saw on the White Road en route to the Ubagataki Falls car park, and I believe this one was called Shiritakadaki Waterfall
This was one of the roadside waterfalls that we saw on the White Road en route to the Ubagataki Falls car park, and I believe this one was called Shiritakadaki Waterfall

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.

Ubagataki_001_iPhone_07052023 - Looking back across the car park for the Ubagataki Waterfall along the White Road
Looking back across the car park for the Ubagataki Waterfall along the White Road

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.

Find A Place To Stay

Sweep starting from the toilet area before focusing more on the foot bath and falls


Multi-sweep video starting from the path to the sinter cones before moving to the foot spa for another sweep


Video starting from the lowest of the foot spas with a different perspective of the falls

Tagged with: ubagataki, uba waterfall, uba falls, ubaga falls, ubaga waterfall, ubagataki falls, ubagataki waterfall, white road, shirakawago, hakusan, ishikawa, japan



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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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