If you’re one for natural wonders, open landscapes and stunning landmarks, then Nachi Falls (Nachi-no-taki) should be on top of your list for places to visit whilst in Japan. Located in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama, this beautiful 133m waterfall is considered one of the premier waterfalls to visit, alongside Kegon Falls in the Tochigi region, and Fukuroda falls in the Ibaraki region.
Its beauty is renowned across the country, not only because the waters cascade along impressive tall columns of rock and is surrounded by luscious greenery, but because of its convenient location near another great tourist attraction – Seigantoji temple.
From a certain viewpoint, you will be able to capture the gorgeous waterfall in the background, and the beautiful jarring red pagoda of the Seigantoji temple in the foreground. This particularly distinct photo opportunity has been sought-after by generations of Japanese people for its unique natural beauty, and has come to light relatively recently for tourists.
Nachi falls (Nachi-no-taki) and Seigantoji temple sit within the same site as the Kumano Nachi Taisha, a popular shrine and one of the main destinations for those who are on the long pilgrimage routes of Kumano Kodo. For many visitors, building an itinerary that includes visiting all these landmarks and more within the area ensures that they make the most of their time.
How To Get to Nachi Falls from Osaka
Whilst we wouldn’t recommend doing a day-trip from Osaka, as this would entail approximately 8 hours on the train, plus additional bus rides from the station to the actual site, it is do-able if you don’t mind the long travel times.
From Shin-Osaka Station, you can catch the Kuroshio Limited Express train to Kii-Katsura. It is a direct train ride, and should take around four hours and should cost a bit more than 7000 yen. Once you alight from Kii-Katsura, you will need to hop on a bus (they’re pretty regular!), for another 25-minutes to get to Nachi Falls. The bus ride will cost you 620 one way. The buses also pass by the Daimonzaka trail. You can check the bus timetable here.
Another option to do a day-trip is if you hire a rental car and drive from Osaka. It will take less than four hours (but it’s quite a scenic drive, as is all countryside driving in Japan!), and if you do go with this option, you will skip the stairs heading up to the viewing area from the bus stop. The car park is at the top and you will need to pay an 800-yen-fee for the last part of the road.
Visit the Seigantoji temple, the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine and the Nachi Falls
When people speak about visiting this waterfall, it is a trip that usually goes hand in hand with visiting the Kumano Nachi Taisha. Whilst the shrine itself is a popular stop-by destination for those on the Kumano Kodo trail, it’s also often visited by those who are interested in beautiful religious landmarks and exploring them in person.
Kumano Nachi Taisha is actually part of a network of various religious sites within the same area that display the harmonious relationship between Buddhism and Shintoism – something that is quite unique and prominent in the Kumano region.
Here, you will be able to walk around and capture images of the spread out sites leisurely in your own time. One of the most popular sites of course, is the Seigantoji Temple, as was previously mentioned. If you do pass by here, make sure you visit the Nyohodo, aka the hall of lanterns, which presents a particularly stunning imagery.
The Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine is located in a very peaceful area and although you will encounter various tourists there, the crowds are small. There are benches where you can grab a seat and just take in the sights (and the sites!).
For those who are after the exceptional photo opportunity that everyone captures whilst at the Kumano Nachi Taisha, you need to head over to the main courtyard of the temple. Here, if you look towards Nachi Falls, you’ll be able to witness it in all its glory.
But the best thing about this image is not just the gorgeous waterfall, which happens to be in the background, but the stunning vermillion red three-storied Pagoda that sits proudly in the foreground.
This image is a one-in-a-million opportunity to capture the natural beauty of Japan’s tallest singular waterfall accentuated by a quintessentially Japanese historic structure. People actually travel far and wide to witness this, and once you see it, you’ll understand why.
If you happen to be visiting Nachi Falls during July, there is an annual festival that happens on the 14th called the Nachi Fire Festival (or ‘Nachi-no-Ogi’), and it’s tipped as one of the three biggest fire festivals in Japan. You will be able to witness massive torches (each weighing 50kg!) purifying 12 portable shrines (in the shape of the falls) whilst their torch-bearers religiously chant loudly and enthusiastically.
Kumano Kodo Daimon Zaka
Daimon Zaka is an old stone staircase that leads to Nachi Falls and we highly recommend you to take it! First, because this route is incredibly photogenic and you will have the opportunity to get amazing shots here.
In addition, you will be able to rent Heian costumes from a shop located at the beginning of the trail. They are absolutely gorgeous and you will feel like you are walking as an ancient pilgrim during Heian period (794 to 1185).
Note that costumes are available for women and men and it costs:
- 2000 yen for one hour,
- 3000 yen for 2 hours,
- 4500 yen for 3 hours.
You can start the trail from this location and walk all the way to Nachi Falls. It will roughly take half an hour to complete it.
Recommend Places To Stay
Kodo Backpacker’s Inn (Temporarily Closed)
If you’re looking for cheap and affordable accommodation options located within distance of public transport for Nachi Falls, look no further than Kodo Backpacker’s Inn. This place presents excellent value for money, being super close to the train station, and in amongst convenience stores and multiple local attractions including onsens and the local fish market which hosts a morning tuna auction.
Made to welcome you with open-arms, the staff here have kept the place tidy and clean, and you’ll immediately feel like it’s your second home – that’s how comfortable your stay will be! There’s a large shared common area and free Wi-Fi throughout. There’s also a well-equipped kitchen if you want to cook your own meals.
Why Guests Love It: The owner is extremely friendly, and will even drive you to his recommended restaurants and onsens if he can! The place is number one for cleanliness, comfort, and convenience.
Book It Now: Kodo Backpacker’s Inn
For a premium-style accommodation at an affordable price, check out Sunrise Katsuura. This ryokan is pretty much a ‘one-size-fits-all’, offering traditional Japanese style guest rooms fitted with futons as well as western style guest rooms with regular bedding.
It also has ample space around the accommodation for you rest and relax, plenty of onsen options to choose from, free Wi-Fi for all staying guests, and absolutely stunning views of the ocean from the guest rooms.
If you’re planning to visit Nachi Falls alongside attractions such as the Kiyomon-yu Onsen, the Tuna Auction market, or the Treasure Dragon Waterfall, then this is the place to book.
Why Guests Love It: The ocean views from the rooms are extraordinary! It’s close to the station, fish market, and restaurants, but still remains superbly cosy.
Book It Now: Sunrise Katsuura
For the ultimate luxury experience near Kii Katsura, we recommend you the Hotel Nakanoshima. It’s located on an island just in front of the port and it will take around 5 minutes to reach the hotel by boat.
The best part of the hotel is probably the onsen pools, specially the outdoor ones. Imagine yourself relaxing here while enjoying the stunning sea view!
The food is also one of the reason you should go for Hotel Nakanoshima. At night, you will be served a traditional Kaiseki meal made with local products. The breakfast is also delicious!
Book It Now: Hotel Nakanoshima
If you’re after a bit of a luxury experience on the road less taken, Katsuura Gyoen is the ryokan of your dreams. Boasting a fantastic location right next to the water, it offers features and amenities that put 5-star hotels to shame.
Take advantage of the outdoor pool, karaoke entertainment room, amazing buffet breakfast spread, and the gorgeous private onsen which can be reserved for 50-minutes at 2,160 yen. For those who would like to take a dip in the public hot spring, make sure to look out for Nachi Falls because you can spot it from there!
Why Guests Love It: The Japanese buffet breakfast is excellent value for money, make sure you book it too! Try and make sure you’re situated at the balcony during sunset, because the view out of this world.
Book It Now: Katsuura Gyoen
Nachi Falls is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Japan, and is definitely worth the trek out from the usual suspect cities. There’s a reason why it attracts so many visitors annually, and these numbers continue to grow as it’s beauty transcends borders. If you’re the type to appreciate untouched natural landmarks in all their glory, then put Nachi Falls on the list.
PS: If you want to explore this area a bit more, feel free to visit the beautiful Yunomine Onsen Town.