Exploring Ibaraki’s Nature and Waterfalls

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Exploring Ibaraki’s Nature and Waterfalls
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Tags: autumnleavesdestinationsibarakikanto

Not everyone that visits Japan wants to see Tokyo and Osaka, but there are those who seek a true Japanese nature and outdoor experience when visiting here. One of the prefectures just out of Tokyo is no other than Ibaraki, and it is only less than three hours by train from Tokyo.

This means that visitors to Tokyo can actually plan an overnight trip to Ibaraki to experience some of the best nature and waterfalls in this eastern prefecture of Japan. While here, you can also explore a slightly different culture, food and Japanese lifestyle compared to the fast metropolitan cities.

Mount Tsukuba, Ibaraki

View of Mount Tsukuba in Ibaraki.

One of the best places to start your adventures is no other than Mount Tsukuba, which is regarded highly as one of the legendary mountains in Japan. The myths surrounding this mountain dates back thousands of years, and many Japanese visits this place for worship purposes.

In modern day, the twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba attract hikers and trekkers, namely for the easy challenge, which only takes around two to three hours. Being a tourist destination in Ibaraki, you will find a lot of onsens and restaurants throughout the main mountain route.

One of the trails leading up the mountain.

For those who prefer an easy route, there is a cable car ropeway service which you can use one way and then take a slow trek down. On a clear day from the peak at a height of 877 meters, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.

For those who plan to self-drive here, there is a communal parking lot which charges ¥500 per day. Otherwise, you can opt to book one of the local tours that bring you here from any of the travel agents in Ibaraki.

Mount Tsukuba

Address: Chikuba 728, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan 300-435

Tel: 029-866-0321

The Fukuroda Waterfalls at Daigo.

Fukuroda Waterfalls at Daigo-machi

Daigo is located in the northern part of Ibaraki and is well known for their nature. Located near the city of Daigo, it takes a 35 minute drive to the location which is often called Fukuroda Falls. The place is open for trekking from 8.00 AM till 6.00 PM and is a day trip location.

Before I continue, I would like to stress that there are elevators you need to take, and a tunnel walks in order to access the waterfalls. This is part of the facility upgrades that have been done to accommodate visitors here.

The Fukuroda waterfalls measure at a height of 120 meters, and a width of 73 meters, which is located in a lush forest setting. This beautiful falls attract not only nature lovers, but photographers from all over Japan. One of the reasons is due to the natural beauty of the overall setting.

For anyone planning to visit this place, it is recommended to come in the summer or autumn, when the overall atmosphere is just perfect. If you visit in the winter, the waterfall will be frozen, and everything around it white in colour.

The visitors’ layout of the Fukuroda Falls showing the tunnel and attractions.

A bonus for visitors is to hike or trek further up the Kuji River to another set of smaller waterfalls. This is good if you come on a weekend, and if the place gets too crowded, you may want to explore further in.

If you are self-driving here, there is a free parking lot located about 15 minutes walk to the waterfalls. For those who want easier access, there is a paid parking lot at ¥500 per car located just outside the waterfall entrance. Out here, there are also some shops which sell food and drinks, and also souvenirs.

The waterfalls in autumn.

Overall, the Fukuroda Falls has been a major tourist attraction, and the prefectural government has done renovations to suit the number of tourist visiting. This means there are guided walkways, facilities and the place is even handicapped friendly.

For hikers and trekkers, there are a number of trails around the waterfalls, which are classified as medium to tough. In the summer, please bring insect repellent if you are sensitive to bugs and so on. A simple tip on visiting this waterfalls is to come as early as possible if you want to avoid the crowd and take some nice photos.

Fukuroda Falls

Address: 3-19 Fukuroda, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki-ken 319-3523, Japan

Tel: +81 295-72-1138

Entrance Fees: ¥300

The beauty of the Namase Falls in the autumn.

Namase Waterfall, Daigo-machi

This waterfalls are actually part of the Fukuroda Falls and located five tiers upstream. This means once you reach the Fukuroda Falls, you need to trek upstream to a higher altitude to see these falls. It is also highly popular among the nature lovers and trekkers, who prefer to hike their way up and avoid the general crowd on the lower tiers of the waterfalls.

As this waterfall requires hiking, it is not recommended for the elderly or those with walking problems. To get here, you are also required to walk up 700 steps, which is made from cast iron, and at some points, concrete.

Part of the 700 steps that lead up to the waterfalls.

The tiring hike up eventually leads you to a viewpoint, where you can see the Namase waterfalls from a distance. If it is the rainy season, you need to be cautious as the stairs can be slippery. Again, go only if you are fit, as the stairs seem to go on and on, and many locals even complain about the hike to this waterfalls.

Honestly, this waterfalls are best visited in the autumn, and great for photographers and nature lovers. If you are a general tourist, you need to be really fit to climb up the 700 stairs.

Namase Falls

Address: 3-19 Fukuroda, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki-ken 319-3523, Japan

Tel: +81 295-72-1138

Entrance Fees: ¥300

The Tsukimachi waterfall seen from the back.

Tsukimachi Waterfall at Daigo-machi

Just north of Daigo City, you will find another waterfall called Tsukimachi Falls, which is also shared by the Kuji River. This place is more of an easier trek and attraction compared to the other waterfalls in the area. If you want a quick waterfall visit when you are around Daigo, this is the place to explore.

The Tsukimachi Falls is only a 10 minute drive from Daigo, and you can just spend a few hours here and then head back to the city. For those driving here, there are three free parking lots located along the main road, which is about three to five minutes away from the waterfalls, and you just need to walk through the forest to reach the Tsukimachi Falls.

Visitors standing behind the waterfalls.

The walk to the falls is a gravel walk up a slope, which is about 100 meters. There are signboards located along the way, to direct visitors to the falls. The Tsukimachi Falls are highly popular all year round, and if you come in the winter time, the place may be also crowded, due to the popularity of a local restaurant here.

It is famous local soba restaurant is called Momijien, which is also located next to the waterfalls, hence this place can get a little crowded on weekends and holidays. Many locals will come here for a meal that is set in nature, to dine and have a beautiful view. If the restaurant is full, you can just take away and eat in the surroundings of the area. The best time to visit here is also in the autumn time when the maple leaves change colour, giving this place a beautiful landscape.

Tsukimachi Falls

Address: 1369-1 Kawayama, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki-ken 319-3556, Japan

Tel: +81 295-72-0285

There are many other smaller waterfalls located all over Ibaraki, and you should consult with a local nature company there to explore them. For those who seek some outdoors and adventure, it is best to visit Ibaraki in the summer or autumn, when the landscapes are full bloom.

To get to Ibaraki, there are trains that depart hourly from Tokyo, and it is highly recommended to spend at least one to two nights. If you are adventurous enough, you can rent a car from Tokyo and self-drive here.


David Hogan Jr
David Hogan Jr
A multiple award-winning travel writer, blogger and social media enthusiast. He has been traveling to Japan since 1990 and all over the world for his work. His work has been featured on CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Lonely Planet and many other publications. David writes at: http://malaysia-asia.my and is on social media platforms as @MalaysiaAsia

1 Comment

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