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Goin’ Japanesque!

Japan’s Tallest Nachi Waterfall! The World Heritage Site in Wakayama Prefecture

In Japan, there is a site with a waterfall which has been known since ancient times and is believed to be inhabited by god. Here we will introduce to you the magnificent and beautiful waterfall, the site of which is also known to many as a power spot. It will surely take your breath away.


Nachi Waterfall

那智の滝, Map

Trifurcating Crest and Shimenawa Rope,

  • Overview: 133 Meters Tall (Japan’s Tallest) / Crest – 13 Meters Wide / Basin – 10 Meters Deep
  • This waterfall is registered as a world heritage site as part of “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in The Kii Mountain Range.”
  • It is also designated as one of Japan’s Three Best Waterfalls, Japan’s 100 Great Waterfalls and 100 Soundscapes of Japan.

Nachi Waterfall boasts Japan’s largest amount of water fall as well as the tallest height among other single-drop falls in the country. Even just by looking at those impressive numbers shown above, you can easily be convinced that it is one of Japan’s representative waterfalls and makes a popular tourist spot. But mere numbers cannot describe the extraordinary beauty of the waterfall, which was even selected as one of “Japan’s 31 Most Beautiful Places” by CNN. It is undoubtedly Japan’s greatest waterfall in both name and reality.

“Nachi Waterfall” originally referred to the 48 falls out of 60 falls located in the Nachi Primeval Forest (National Natural Monument) but today the name usually refers to the one in this photo, which is also referred to as “Ichi No Taki (Fall No.1)” as one of 48 waterfalls and the only one accessible to the public for viewing.

With the crest splitting into three streams, Nachi Waterfall is also referred to as “Sansuji No Taki (Fall of Three Streams).” You can also find a shimenawa rope (item used for ritualistic purposes in the Shinto religion) hanging above the crest (for the reason explained later).


Nachi Waterfall in History

Nachi Waterfall was already mentioned in an old literature from the early 11th century called “Makurano Soshi (The Pillow Book)” People have worshipped the waterfall since ancient times since the time of the legendary first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jinmu, an almost mythical being. The reason? It is because the spirit of god of Hiro Shrine (the annex shrine of Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine), which is located adjacent to the fall, is believed to inhabit the waterfall. The aforementioned shimenawa rope is supposed to ward off evil spirits from the sacred space for the god. That is, Nachi Waterfall is the sacred body of the god in itself.

The local residents have lived in steep mountains, by beautiful rivers and the ocean since long ago. And so, the locals here nurtured a faith that huge stones, huge woods and other great natural elements are inhabited by gods.


The Great Photo Point of Nachi Waterfall 1: From Hiro Shrine



The first great photography point we want to show you is at the very bottom of the waterfall. As you go down the very atmospheric stone stairs leading to Hiro Shrine…


You will come across the shrine and can grasp the magnificent view of Nachi Waterfall across over the shrine gate. The shrine does not have a main shrine hall where the god is supposed to reside because the god is in the waterfall itself. The collaboration between the Japanese traditional architectures and the grand nature here is mystic and outstanding.


By paying a fee of 300 yen, you can go farther into the shrine site and get to a power spot where you can bring some good luck to yourself by getting sprayed with the mist coming off the fall, according to what is widely believed. Make sure to try out the power of the spot yourself. It’s the mist of a world heritage sacred spot.


The Great Photo Point 2: From the Three-Storied Pagoda of Seiganto Temple


The Three-Storied Pagoda of Seiganto Temple and the Fall in the Background,

Another great spot to view the waterfall is from the three-storied pagoda tower of Seiganto Temple. The temple is located close to Hiro shrine. Because many Buddhist temples were shut down when the Meiji government ordered the separation of Buddhism and the Shinto religion in the early 19th century, substantially in favor of the latter, this site provides one of the rare examples where the coexistence of temple and shrine can still be seen today.


I guess now you already know how the magnificence and the beauty of nature, and the thoroughly refreshing atmosphere make Nachi Waterfall a great tourist attraction. You have also learned where to get the best view of the waterfall; one from up close and another from a remote spot, got it? The great scale and the mystic atmosphere of the waterfall are absolutely worth checking out.

Recommended Walking Route to Nachi Waterfall:
Kumano Kodo: Mystic Ancient Trails Where You can Synchronize with the Ancient Past

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