I had been meaning to put together a Top 10 Best Japan Waterfalls List, especially after making a second visit here back in late 2016.
So this challenging task was long overdue.
But considering that we only base this list upon our own personal experiences, I finally felt like we had enough of a library of experiences to yield something both to be proud of as well as respectable.
Indeed, we’ve surveyed a good portion of Honshu (the main island) as well as Hokkaido.
And while we still have yet to explore other parts of the country, you’ll see that Japanese Waterfalls certainly delivered on quality. You can see this for yourself by looking at the ratings of each of the individual waterfalls mentioned here.
Just to give you an idea of the diversity and quantity of waterfalls in this beautiful country, we even have a page dedicated to Japan Waterfalls showcasing all the ones we’ve visited so far!
So without further ado, we present our favorite waterfalls from Japan in reverse order…
My parents and I went out of our way to visit this waterfall towards the north of Honshu near the infamous Fukushima-ken.
However, we went on quite the public transport adventure after outsmarting ourselves and taking the wrong train resulting in missing a rare connection in Mito.
All that trouble came from me wanting to avoid driving in Tokyo. So that meant we had to use the extensive rail system and local buses to get here.
Nonetheless, as you can see from the photo, this huge 120m tall, 73m wide waterfall was certainly worth the trouble. I only wished that we had more time to spend here.
So for all the memories that our adventure to get here as well as the scenic allure of the waterfall itself, it just barely made it onto this highly competitive list of our favorites in Japan.
This curious Y-shaped waterfall sat within the Daisetsuzan (“Big Snow Mountain” if I interpreted the kanji correctly) National Park.
True to the naturesque spirit of national parks, Julie and I enjoyed a delightful riverside walk to get here.
Picnic tables near its base meant we could easily extend our time here and let the scenery sink into us even more.
We even had the opportunity to visit the nearby Shikishima Waterfall though bear activity made us hesitant to proceed past the trail closure barricade to get there.
Nevertheless, even without the bonus waterfall, we still enjoyed our time here enough to place it on our list of favorite Japanese waterfalls.
When my parents reacted to seeing this waterfall, I knew we had experienced one of those special moments where the effort and trouble had paid off!
Maybe the circumstance of the struggle and misleading GPS detours created such a memorable moment.
Nonetheless, this 121m waterfall made the Japan Top 100 List (a separate government-recognized list that we don’t maintain), and we can certainly vouch for its legitimacy.
On top of that, we experienced intermediate waterfalls along the Ishuitoro River, which further added to the experience and kept us going.
So putting all those things together, we just had to give this waterfall its props by including it on our list of best Japan Waterfalls.
This waterfall quite literally stood on the doorstep of the wild Shiretoko Peninsula in the far northeast of Hokkaido Island.
As a huge fan-type waterfall throwing up a lot of mist, we had a hard time trying to photograph it up close. But at least we had no problems experiencing it since it stood next to the road.
Yet even despite its distant location from the larger “cities” of Sapporo and Asahikawa, this waterfall still remained quite the popular stop – and justifiably so!
Thus, given its size, its location (Shiretoko is probably as wild and naturesque as Japan can get), and its ease of access, we had to make room for it on our list of Japanese favorites.
Julie and I went on another public transport adventure to reach this unusual waterfall.
Not only did the buses from Kawaguchiko to the western slopes of Mt Fuji lack frequent departures, but we really had to watch for our stop as everything was in Japanese characters!
Indeed, we went well off the typical tourist path for this. But our efforts rewarded us with not just this waterfall with a width that far exceeded its height (you definitely need to stitch photos to get the whole thing in one shot), but we also experienced the Otodome Waterfall!
Along with the clear blue plunge pool, the waterfall’s scenic attributes compelled us to put this falls on our Top 10 Best Japan Waterfalls List.
The adventure to get here further made this excursion all the more memorable!
This classic 50m plunge waterfall surprised us with its scenic location in addition to the hexagonal basalt columns supporting its drop.
Indeed, we just so happened to make our visit to the Nagano area during the koyo (Fall colors), which hadn’t even reached its peak!
Just imagine how special of a scene we would have experienced had the leaves turned more deep red and red-orange as opposed to the yellows and oranges we witnessed!
Waterfalling moments like these always compel us to seek out new adventures. You just never know when Nature puts on a show like it did for us.
As a result, this photo-friendly waterfall forced our hand in making room for it on our list of Top 10 Japan Waterfalls.
Of the waterfalls we visited on a return self-driving trip in Japan in 2016 with my parents, I liked this waterfall the most.
In addition to its 64m plunge, the color of the surrounding scenery as well as the gardens and ponds along the way really stood out to me.
On a day where we also enjoyed the onsens, other waterfalls, the koyo, and Hida Steaks, this waterfall provided the scenery to further back up one of the most magical birthdays I had ever celebrated.
Indeed, I have lots of fond memories of this place, and I had to honor it with a place on our Top 10 List of Best Japan Waterfalls.
Affectionately referred to as the “husband and wife waterfall,” this pairing immediately made a deep impression to Julie and I. After all, we witnessed a grand scene of two waterfalls tumbling side by side while split by a giant rock.
Backed by snowy mountains hinting at the wildness of Daisetsuzan’s rugged backcountry, it further added to the dramatic scene.
Such tall and permanent waterfall pairings don’t come like this often, and we just had to include this Japanese married couple on our list.
We went on a short bus ride from the World Heritage sites of Nikko to reach this towering 97m waterfall draining Chuzenji-ko.
So we found it natural to combine our touring of temples and pagodas with a natural wonder like this.
Indeed, this part of Japan definitely ooh’ed and aah’ed us with its grandeur and its settings.
We even had a chance to experience this falls in other ways including a top-down view taking in both the falls and its sourcing lake.
And as you can in the photo, a bright rainbow arcing across the waterfall’s base further blessed our magical visit!
As the tallest permanent vertical waterfall in Japan at 133m, it also seemed to possess a sense of mysticism with its uniquely holy settings.
Indeed, such a juxtaposition of temples and gorgeous scenery compelled us to consider this our favorite Japanese waterfall.
Mind you, it just nosed out Kegon-no-taki by a very narrow margin!
How many other waterfalls let you see it with a pagoda as well as from within a genuine old temple?
Even the subtropical settings and laid back atmosphere on this side of the Kii-hanto made it easy for us to forget that we hadn’t even left the main island of Honshu!
Sure we were rushed on our visit to this falls (no thanks to the coordination or lack-thereof between the transit and boat schedules). But this place left such a grand impression on us that we had to top our Top 10 Japan Waterfalls List with this spiritual experience.
Looking for more of our favorites?
Below are a few more Top 10 lists of the waterfalls we’ve visited
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