Anxious to see Nachi Falls, the tallest straight drop waterfall in Japan (133m/436ft), I made a plan to take a bus to the Shirahama Station, a train (the panda train no less!) to the Kii-Katsuura Station, then a bus up to the falls. Driving this would have been about 2.5 hours, but with public transportation, it took about 3.5 hours. It was well worth the effort!
Aside from the majestic falls, there is Hiro Shrine, a Shinto shrine that sits at the base of the falls, and Seijanto-ji Temple and Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, a Buddhist worship site that sits a short hike above the falls, making for an amazing view point and photo spot. There is also access the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route with its amazing stone staircases in this area, which you can hike parts of or spend several days completing the entire route.
I decided to start up the stairs to the Seijanto-ji Temple, and visit the base of the falls after since everyone else headed down the hill and I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to do. Just smelling the large cedar trees and listening to the crashing of the falls made it a magical experience.
The farther up the mountain I got, the more beautiful the scenery! I even saw some deer on the way and none of them tried to bite me! Bonus!
When I reached Seijanto-ji Temple with the falls in the background, my breath was taken. This was what I came to see!! I got so lucky there was hardly anyone around and I got my time with her. After taking some photos, I sat down on a step and just admired her beauty for awhile.
When people started to arrive, I hiked on up the hill to see the grand shrine and its surroundings. Oddly enough, I did not even get a photo of the grand shrine as there were so many people gathered around, and to me, the temple and the falls were the real winners!
I carried on, finding more stone steps, part of the Kumano Ancient Road, that led up the mountain behind the shrine. Again, the trail was empty, so I followed it up the mountain until I came to a park with amazing views.
By this time, it was getting late in the afternoon, and starting to cool off, so I headed back to the temple to see her beauty once more, and have a look inside before hiking down to the base of the falls. The construction is simply amazing!
After the hike to the base of the falls, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and asked Google about how to get back to Shirahama. Silly me, I had put in 4:00 or 5:00 for the train as a starting point, and saw the next one wasn’t until 7:45, so I had tons of time. With this, I decided to walk the 6.5 km back to the station instead of taking the bus. There was another portion of the Kumano Kodo trail I could do, the Daimon-zaka slope, ending at the huge husband and wife cedars, so why not!!
After the trees, I wandered through the little villages, and along the road until I reached the train station. It was a beautiful walk!
When I finally reached the station, it was about 6:30, so I went to buy a ticket for the 7:45 train and thought I’d walk around for a bit before it arrived. OMG, I’m so glad I went to get my ticket early!! You are going to laugh at this. The sweet man working in the station, in broken English, asked where I wanted to go. I told him Shirahama. He helped me get the ticket from the machine and told me the train was at 6:37. I said, I’m confused and showed him the schedule on my phone saying it was at 7:45. He said, “that’s tomorrow morning!” It suddenly hit me….I needed to be using the 24 hour clock! No wonder there wern’t any trains before 7:45, they don’t run in the middle of the night! We both had a good laugh, and I soon boarded the train for Shirahama. At least thinking there were no trains earlier got me some extra exercise! Whoops!
By the way, for my FitBit enthusiast friends, here’s my first week in Japan! It sure beat my final, lazy week in hot Bangkok!
The following morning, the weather had turned and the skies were gloomy and spitting some rain. I ran into Junko and Rod in the communal kitchen and she invited me to join her, her sister, Kiyomi, who had come in from Tokyo, as well as the girls (Midori and Kazue) and two of their friends to go to Energyland, a small amusement center in town. This was a perfect way to enjoy the day out of the weather! We had a blast watching the energy shows, playing in the crooked rooms that trick your brain, watching 360 degree 3-D movies, and taking photos in the funny trick painting rooms. We even sat outside and had ice cream in the cold! It was perfect!
When we were done with our playtime, Rod picked us up and we went to lunch at the famous MOS (Mountian, Ocean, and Sun) Burger. It’s the 2nd largest fast food chain in Japan, behind McDonald’s, and offers many interesting veggie options, etc.
After lunch, Junko and Kiyomi found a food trailer in the parking lot selling these amazing little croquettes and decided we should have a buffet dinner in the communal dining room. Later, they then picked up some sushi and other fun treats as well as some delicious beer and brought some special Japanese liqueur, Ume-shu (plum), that their friends mum. It was such a treat!! Kiyomi and I found we had so much in common, including our enjoyment of a few beers and vodka drinks! Junko took us back to the store, and we stocked up for a fun night in with so many laughs!
The next morning, Junko, Kiyomi and I went early to the famous Sakino-yu Bath, where they used to go with their family when they were kids. This was the last place I wanted to get to before leaving Shirahama, and this made it ultra special to go with them and learn about their history with it and how it used to be! We were the first ones to arrive and were able to laugh and enjoy the morning rain as the waves crashed in over the rocks and landed on our heads. It was beautiful!
After the bath and some breakfast, we played a few last games in the hotel game room before they drove me to the train station and we said our see you laters! This kind family made my stay in Shirahama so special. I will never forget all the good times we had during these few days! Thanks guys!! Big hugs and I look forward to seeing you all again somewhere out there….and there will be ice cream!!
So, with that, I headed north to see something else really special! I can’t wait to share!!
See you again real soon! Hugs, Michelle
2 Replies to “Nachi Falls, Outdoor Onsen & More Fun with New Friends! Shirahama, Japan and Beyond!”
Great pictures, especially of the Grand Shrine, magnificent. Along with the rest of the pictures and story. Cheers to your next adventure.
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Such great adventures. So happy that you connected with these amazing friends. It looks like you had a splendid time.
Looking forward to the next blog.
Hugs from me.
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