links to APDL and KCC link to KCC homepage link to APDL homepage

Roads of Oku: Home

Inspiration ...

Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North, Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa / Google Map: Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi ("Narrow Road to the Deep North")

Journeys ...

Spring 2004: On the Road in Kansai / Google Map
Summer 2005: Roads of Oku / Google Map
Fall 2006: Where Gods Alight / Google Map
Summer 2007: Hōkūle‘a in Yokohama / Map
Winter 2008: Snow Country / Google Map
Spring 2008: Full Bloom & Festivals / Google Map
Summer 2009: Fireflies & Sweet Fish / Google Map
Fall 2009: North Country Colors / Google Map
Summer 2010: Legends of the Land / Google Map
Spring 2011: On the Far Side of Disaster / Google Map
Summer 2012: Travels in the Fifth Moon / Google Map
Summer 2013: Far Roads: Finishing Touches / Google Map
Summer 2015: Saké-Tasting in the Kingdom of Local Brew

Memorable ...

Roads / Seacoasts & Coastal Roads / Bridges / Ferries / Walks & Hikes / Mountains / Ropeways / Rivers / Waterfalls / Lakes / Trees / Rocks / Caves / Hot Springs / Sakura / Fall Colors / Archaeology and History / Castles / Shrines / Temples / Gardens / Festivals / Food / Drinks
Photography: Dennis Kawaharada and Karen Ono

Note ...

On Driving in Japan

Roads of Oku: Journeys in the Heartland

A collection of essays on Japanese culture, history and literature. Available at (Far Roads Press, 2015).


Shōmyō Falls, Toyama, Summer 2012

In a ravine below Tateyama is Shōmyō-daki, the tallest waterfall in Japan, falling over 1148 feet. The water flow is heaviest in early summer due to the snow melt and fifth-moon rains; as we approached, the thunder of falling water filled the ravine and gusts of wind blew swirling mist around us:

Shomyo Falls

Nachi Falls, Wakayama. Spring 2004

At four hundred forty feet, the tallest single stage waterfall in Japan. In winter 1160, the priest Mongaku carried out his vow to stand under the waterfall for twenty-one days reciting three hundred thousand invocations to his Buddhist god, Fudo-myoo. The kami of the waterfall, Hiro, is worshipped at a shrine next to it.

Nachi Falls

Waterfalls of Nikko, Tochigi. Summer 2005

Kegon pours out of Lake Chuzenji down a steep cliff. An elevator ride goes down to the foot, from where you can view the falls from below. Close to Tokyo, the falls is usually crowded with visitors and schoolchildren on excursions.

Chuzenji Falls

Left: Kirifuri (“Falling Mists”) is Nikko’s second waterfall after Kegon. Our innkeeper recommend we see it. A boardwalk through a woodland park blooming with azaleas led to a platform overlooking the falls. Right: Urami no Taki ("See from Behind Falls").

KirifuriUrami no Taki

Fukuroda Falls, Ibaraki. Fall 2009

Arriving through a short tunnel, we were greeted by a wall of water. The trail continues across a bridge, past shops, and back to the parking lot.

Fukiware Falls, Gunma. Fall 2009

A broad, shallow river pours from two sides into a narrow pit in the river bed.

Uba Falls, Ishikawa. Summer 2012

The most impressive waterfall on the Hakusan Super Forest Road is Ubagataki, which can be seen from the road, but better viewed close up after a walk down a steep stairway and along the river bank.

Daisen Falls, Summer 2009

A hike on the soutwest side of Daisen goes out to this two stage waterfall.

Ikurado Falls, Okayama. Summer 2009

“The bluff gazes up into the sky with such dignity, even the maple leaves are frightened.” (Akiko Yosana, 1929.)

This waterfall has a cave in the cliff behind it. The cave is dripping with water. As we exited the cave, the feathery falls was pouring down the cliff to the right.

Ikurado falls

Shiraito (“White Threads”), Yamanashi. Summer 2010

Where Kakugyo, the mystic of Fujisan, meditated and purified himself before going to Hitoana cave and receiving his vision of the mountain as god and savior of Japan.

Nabegataki, Kumamoto. Spring 2011

North of Mt. Aso, near the town of Oguni, Nabegataki pours over a ledge so you can walk behind it. We saw it on NHK's "Journeys in Japan" and found its location via Google Maps.


Sengataki, Kofu. Summer 2012.

A short drive from our hotel in Kofu is Shosen Gorge on the Arakawa River, which flows down from the Chichibu mountain range. The gorge is noted for its oddly shaped rocks (given names like "monkey rock" and "cat rock"), steep cliffs reminiscent of Chinese landscape paintings, and senga-taki, a 30 meter high waterfall. Like Hakusan Super Forest Road, Shosen Gorge is noted for its fall color, but is less crowded in summer.)

Kanba Falls, Okayama. Spring 2011

Kanba Falls Nature Park is located near Maniwa, in the northwest of Okayama Prefecture. Inside the park, the main waterfall is 361 feet (110m, 45 stories) high and (66 feet (20m) wide, with such an abundant volume of water that it can be heard from the trail far from the waterfall itself. Kanba Falls is known as one of the greatest waterfalls in western Japan and is one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls.

Kanba waterfall

Akiu Great Falls, Miyagi. Fall 2009


Shiraito (“White Threads”), Karuizawa, Nagano. Spring 2008.

A short uphill hike leads to the falls, with threads of water trickling out of the hillside rather than falling over a cliff.

Shiraito, KaruizawaWaterfall pool

Maruo Falls, Route 223, Ebino Highlands, Miyazaki, Kyushu. Fall 2006

As we drove through Kirishima National Park, we stopped to photograph Maruo falls.

Maruo falls

Kawazu Nanadaru ("Seven Falls"), Izu, Shizuoka. Spring 2008

A walk of less than a mile along the Kawazu River goes past seven waterfalls: Odaru, Deai Daru, Kani Daru, Hakkei Daru, Hebi Daru, Ebi Daru, and Kama Daru.

Izu waterfall


Izu waterfall deai daru

Deai Daru

Kani DaruIzu Waterfall

Kani Daru / Hakkei Daru

Izu waterfall Hebi Daru

Hebi Daru

Izu Waterfall Ebi Daru

Ebi Daru

Izu Waterfall Kama Daru

Kama Daru