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Nikko : Beautiful Waterfalls in Autumn

Nikko : Beautiful Waterfalls in Autumn

Do you like kōyō, sweet waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes? Then Nikkō is not only the perfect place but it is also not very far from Tokyo, only two hours by train. Tourists often prefer to go to Hakone. That is maybe because there are many famous onsen there, a lake with a view on Fuji-san and numerous museums… however if you love nature then Nikkō is by far a better destination.

Lake Chūzenji (中禅寺湖)
Lake Chūzenji (中禅寺湖).

Nikkō can be thought as three places :

  • Nikkō City: the train station, many great temples and a holy bridge. This is where most visitors go and where you should go as well if you want to see Japanese culture.
  • Chunzenji Lake: easily accessible by bus (20-30 minutes but watch out – the road is sometimes super crowded!), it is also a very touristic area. We will go around this lake in this article.
  • Beyond Chunzenji: a few kilometers further passed the lake, there is Yumato Onsen, Kinugawa Onsen (even better) and a beautiful swamp that we will visit in the next article.

Hangetsuyama (半月山)

Let’s start from the top, in the heights surrounding the lake. We are here at Hangetsuyama which is actually quite a normal place. However, in autumn, it is an incredible observation point.

Hangetsuyama (半月山).
Hangetsuyama, Autumn Colors
Hangetsuyama (半月山).

The Ryūzu Falls (龍頭滝)

The Ryūzu Falls are also in the heights around the lake but on the opposite side of Hangetsuyama. My previous visit being in winter, the waterfalls were really dull and sad looking but now it simply looks amazing!

Ryuzu Falls
The Ryūzu Falls (龍頭滝)
Ryuzu Falls Foliage
Vent léger.

The name of this waterfall means Dragon’s Head but you really need a lot of imagination to see anything close to it.

Ryuzu Falls
The Ryūzu Falls (龍頭滝)

Are you still looking for the dragon? ^^

Autumn colors at Ryuzu Falls
The Ryūzu Falls (龍頭滝)

By going down the river, we get finally back to Chuzenji. It is the ideal place for a break even though the restaurants are a bit too expensive for what they have to offer.

autumn, japan, japanese, kanto, natural, nature, tochigi

The Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝)

Let’s now visit the plumbing of the area. This is the water faucet of Nikkō: the very grand and famous Kegon Waterfall.

Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝)
Sacré fuite, dis-donc.

It is a 97 meters high fall and one of the 3 longest falls of Japan. It is unfortunately famous for something else too…

Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝)
Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝).

They would come here, going along the river and through the trees to end up throwing themselves from the top of the fall…

Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝)
Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝).

…to land here… but without any suffering, that’s for sure.

Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝)
Kegon Waterfall (華厳滝).

Maybe is that a bad ending for a walk around those falls? Well yes but often the most beautiful places hide the most awful stories and this place is no exception. Let’s go back to the car now and go beyond the heights around the lake to get to the marshlands, where the bears are having a feast 🙂

  • WOAH!!! I knew that Nikko in autumn is breathtaking, but your photos are just AWESOME!
    When did you go? ^_^

    • Actually, as you might have guessed, it is far from being right now 🙂 It was in 2012! I am translating my autumn articles from last year to English, there are many more to come! I had an awesome koyo time last year… I hope I will be able to enjoy the coming one, but I need a set of fresh and new locations ^^

      • But Nikko is a bit earlier than the rest, right? Was that in early November or even in October? 🙂
        I’d love to re-visit Nikko in autumn, but if I do, I want the leaves to be at their brightest! *g*

        Any plans for this autumn yet?
        I can’t go too far away because I don’t have any vacation, only weekend trips are possible. 🙁

        • Nikko is a bit earlier I believe… but I think it was in November. You will have to check the koyo forecast on everyday 🙂

          I don’t have any specific plans but I will visit Tohoku next week (maybe not any koyo yet though) and later I will probably go around in the Kanto area… but I am really not sure about anything yet 🙂

          • I always check that website when it’s time! ^_^ But we still have temperatures like in summer, so I can’t imagine that autumn colors will come anytime soon! 🙁

            Lucky you! I wish I had vacation in autumn! 🙂

  • Andika Ikhsan

    as always, your pictures and articles are awesome!


Who Am I

azalea, drone, flower, japan, japanese, kyushu, natural, nature, saga, spring

I am Jordy Meow, I am a French photographer living in Japan. My interest is to discover and share information about offbeat and lesser known locations for foreigners coming or living in Japan. I published books and now preparing new beautiful series of guidebooks.