After walking down a small street dotted with traditional shops and onsen in the small town of Daigo, you will find yourself at the base of Fukuroda Falls, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Daigo (and even in Ibaraki). With a magnificent height of 120 meters and a width of 73 meters, Fukuroda Falls lives up to its name of being one of the three most renowned waterfalls in Japan.
In Japanese, Fukuroda Falls is often called “Yodo-no-taki” which means the four-step falls and is derived from the way the waterfall is separated into four distinct tiers. Little known to most visitors, Fukuroda Falls also consists of a fifth tier upstream called Namase Waterfall, which can only be reached by hiking. For a small entrance fee, the four main tiers can be seen from two observation decks, one right at the base and one near the top of the falls, offering two very different, yet very stunning, views.
Each season brings a new reason to visit the falls as its shape and the colors of the surrounding mountains transition throughout the year. In the spring and into summer, the new greens of the year burst to life around the powerful falls, overflowing with the water held captive by the mountains over the winter. As summer turns to fall, the falls recede some to give the stage to the resilient reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn. Finally, as the leaves drop from the trees along with the temperature, you may be lucky enough to see the rare occurrence of the entire waterfall freezing over.
Starting last year, from November until February, visitors can experience the colorful illuminations that run from sundown until about 8pm. This year’s illuminations were a step up from last year, having not only lights but also incorporating movement and music. With the white, frozen falls as their canvas, the colors are spectacular. While the colors can become weak if the falls are not entirely frozen, our tour guide assured us that they will continue to test different methods each year in order to get the most out of the winter illumination.
For those of you looking for more of a challenge, there is also a 1.6 km hiking course that wraps around Mt. Tsukiore, taking you past the Tsukiore Kannon-do Temple (dedicated to the deity of mercy, Kannon) to a point from which you can see Fukuroda Falls from the top. Also, if you follow one of the branches off the main trail, you can also see the fifth tier of Fukuroda Falls, the Namase Waterfall. Both of these views are not well known and can be a fun addition for those who have visited the falls before.
No matter what season you enjoy or how adventurous you are, Fukuroda Falls has something for everyone. It is definitely one of the places in Ibaraki you can’t miss!
Adults 300 yen, Children 150 yen (50 discount per person for groups over 30)
*To use the two observatories and elevator
May until October: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
November until April: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.