“Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you’re moving too fast”
Sure, the song isn’t really about waterfalls but the words in the chorus of this classic 90’s hit song are catchy. I do happen to disagree, however, with the words that are said, because chasing waterfalls is exactly what I think you should do. Right now, if possible. You don’t have to stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to. Get a car and come to Shikoku!
If waterfalls were tastes; Shikoku’s waterfalls would be umami. Yes, Shikoku has all of the usual ingredients that make a waterfall great: clear water.. check, mountains.. check, decidual trees.. check, rocks and mosses.. check. But there’s something else that Shikoku has that sets it apart. Is it the history? The legends? The ambience? The remoteness? Or is it the Shinto/Buddhist connection? I can’t quite put my finger on it. But whatever it is, it’s good, like umami.
This past weekend my girlfriend and I headed out on a “weekend road trip” (working 9-5 will do that to you). The rain stopped, just in time, for our two day weekend, and resumed promptly just after we arrived home. While Summer is not the most ideal time to view waterfalls in Shikoku (Spring and Autumn are the most visually stunning) it is a good time to escape the heat and humidity. While it may be steaming elsewhere, the water and air around Shikoku’s waterfalls is always cool and refreshing.
We visited four waterfalls this weekend, and passed many more, all within a short drive of each other. First, we visited Otodoro-no-taki 大轟の滝 in Naka-cho, Tokushima. Follow the road along the lakes and river-side and you’ll be taken straight past it. Hiking is not necessary but there is an old path that goes up past the waterfall, some picnic tables, and around to the top. Access to this waterfall for swimming would be quite difficult.
We continued up the steep winding road towards Ogama-no-taki 大釜の滝 which is a short 15 minute drive away. This waterfall is loud and powerful and there is a path that takes you down to the bottom. The rocks are a bit slippery and hard to scramble across but there are a few pools downstream where you could swim if you wanted.
That evening we stayed at the nearby Shikibidani Onsen. The room’s were really nice, the food was great, and the whole experience was really positive (the price was good, too).
The next day we made our way down Route 193 towards Todoroki-no-taki, Tokushima 轟の滝徳島 (not to be confused with the waterfall of the same name in Kochi). This waterfall clearly holds a special importance to the locals and is surrounded by temples and shrines. Each year this waterfall hosts an interesting celebration. White-cladded men carry a large shrine on their shoulders through a gap in the waterfall’s rocks. It looks like a challenge.
When we arrived at Todoroki Falls we found people praying inside the waterfall/shrine so we didn’t actually venture inside as we didn’t want to disturb anyone. Instead we followed a track that takes you up and around the waterfall and past another 3 or 4 impressive falls. The walk takes up to 50 minutes depending on how far you want to go.
- 大轟の滝 – http://www.awanavi.jp/spot/2013032500361/
- Ogama-no-taki – 大釜の滝 – http://www.awanavi.jp/spot/2013032500347/http://www.awanavi.jp/spot/2013032500347/
- Todoroki-no-Taki – http://www.awanavi.jp/spot/2013032500330/
- Todoroki festival – http://www.kaiyo-kankou.jp/index.php/event2/todorokifes-natu
- Shikibidani Onsen/Hotel – http://shikibidani-onsen.com/
- Shikoku Waterfall Map (mostly Kochi) – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kv48qejvMTSKNNoAJ5aGw4b4lCs&usp=sharing