Autumn at Fukuroda Falls, One of Japan’s Top 3 Waterfalls

Fukuroda Falls, one of Japan’s three great waterfalls, is a breathtaking cascade that sits on a cliff created by a volcanic ejecta some 15 million years ago. Nestled in the secluded hills of the town of Daigo in Ibaraki Prefecture, this majestic cascading waterfall shows a different face every season. Frozen in the harsh cold of winter, it comes back to life in spring, adorned by budding green leaves, and continues its refreshing spray into summer before being decorated by vivid hues in the fall.

Visiting Fukuroda Falls in autumn

The 紅葉 [koyo], or autumn leaves, season in Japan has become one of the most popular times to travel. The peak time to see the leaves at Fukuroda Falls is early to mid-November.

Autumn at Fukuroda Falls

The contrast between brilliantly colored maple leaves and the pure white waterfall is a sight to behold. According to the official website, the poet Saigyo Hoshi in the Heian period composed a poem praising the enchanting beauty of Fukuroda Falls, saying it was a place where “flowers line the path, weaving in and out, as the mountain princess skillfully creates a brocade.”

Entry costs 300 yen per adult, and it includes everything below.

Tunnel of Light

From autumn to winter, the tunnel leading to the waterfall view decks is decorated with lights throughout its opening hours. The concept for 2023 was “prism” so the tunnel was a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours.

Tunnel of Light, Daigo project

The waterfall is also lighted up from sunset until 7pm or 8pm, so if you are willing to brave the cold you can come at night.

Lover’s Sanctuary

Lover's Sanctuary

Around 165m into the tunnel is a monument that serves as a photo spot. A swing surrounded by abstract 3D shapes, it is known as the Lover’s Sanctuary but anybody can come take photos here.

Vantage points

Autumn at Fukuroda Falls

There are two main view decks to see the stunning waterfall that stands 120m tall and 73m wide. The highest one at around 50m has three platforms and is accessed via an elevator. Here you can take sweeping shots of the water amid the foliage and surrounding mountains.

The second deck is lower but it brings you closest to the waterfall’s thunderous spray, where you can really experience the power of nature. You are just 10m from the water so it almost feels like you can reach out and touch it. In autumn and winter the air is very chilly, so make sure you bring a warm jacket.

Waterfall view deck 10m away

Suspension bridge

On the way back, you can walk across a suspension bridge located around 210m into the tunnel. This will bring you onto a foresty path that leads back to the shops clustered near the entrance, and onwards to the parking lots.

Suspension bridge at Fukuroda Falls

Getting to Fukuroda Falls

By public transport

From Tokyo or Ueno Station take the Hitachi Limited Express to Mito Station (80 mins). From there, transfer to the JR Suigun Line and ride another 80 mins until Fukuroda Station. A local bus runs a few times a day from the station to the waterfall entrance. You can check the timetable here (Japanese only). Alternatively, you can walk it, which will take around 40 mins.

A bus also runs twice a day in both directions from Hitachi-Daigo Station to the waterfall entrance, but the distance is not feasible to walk if you happen to miss the buses.

Autumn at Fukuroda Falls

By car

Driving to Fukuroda Falls is by far the more convenient and preferred option. Given the cost of train fares nowadays, it even works out to be cheaper, especially if you have multiple people.

There are two free parking lots provided by the town that are located around 15 minutes walk from the waterfall entrance. The Daiichi parking lot is the slightly closer of the two, and it is open 24 hours. However, it only holds 50 cars, so if crowded you are best going to the Daini parking lot (show in map below). This one holds 220 cars but is only open between 9am to 5pm during the colder months (extended by a hour both sides from May to October). Both parking lots have toilets.

For those that want to minimize walking, there are also a scattering of paid parking closer to the waterfall. Prices range from 300 yen to 500 yen for the day, so it won’t break the bank. Some restaurants and stores along the way also offer free parking for customers.

Check out the archives for more things to do in Ibaraki Prefecture, or among nature.

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