Origin of Kegon Falls

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Why Kegon Waterfall is a famous landmark of Japan

By Liliana González |

Visit Kegon WaterFall in Nikko, Japan. Fall in love with the night landscape a Mexican writer described and discover the love story that led a Japanese young man to committing suicide at this site.

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is also the country with the best Fireworks festivals. It’s a destination where you can dress up as a geisha or a samurai, and the perfect place to delight in freshly picked strawberries. In other words, in Japan everyone will find something great… even romantic travelers and nature lovers such as those who visit Kegon Falls. 

A Japanese proverb says: “That who hasn’t visited Nikko may not use the word wonder”. DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, will tell you why Kegon Falls are definitely part of the wonders this small city houses. 

If you want to have a natural experience in your next vacation while enjoying cultural diversity, love stories and tales about honor, you need to visit Kegon in Nikko, Japan. 

Kegon Waterfall, One of the Three Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Japan

The city of Nikko is located in the prefecture of Tochigi, in the region of Kantō. It houses one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. Kegon Falls are part of a series of waterfalls that surround the Sacred Mountain of Nikko. The waterfall is 97 meters tall and it’s the only water output of Lake Chuzenji. According to Japanese tradition, it’s the meeting point for thousands of people who go on a pilgrimage in search of a spiritual experience that connects them with their ancestors. 

The Overlooks at Kegon Falls

If you’re a fan of spectacular views, then you’ll want to find a strategic spot to enjoy the almost 100 meter-tall waterfall. One of them is located at the lake’s height. You can get there by taking the cable car from Akeshidaira. It costs 730 yen (around 7 USD). Another option is to enjoy the waterfall from the lookout located at the base of the fall. Get there by taking the lift that costs 550 yen (around 5 USD). If you want to save cash, observe the waterfall for free from the observation deck. You can easily get there by walking from the center of the city, where you’ll also find a lot of stores. 

The overlook’s opening hours change depending on the season and according to hours of daylight. Therefore, in autumn, the best season to visit Nikko (Sept – Nov) opening hours are from 8:00 to 17:00 h. Anyway, check the town’s schedule before your visit so that you can enjoy your tour the most. 

The Natural Landscape at Nikko

From the aforementioned points you’ll take spectacular pictures, but that’s not all. The seasons truly change the landscape in Nikko. For this reason, Kegon Falls offer a different experience every season. In fact, Nikko is famous for the copper and golden hues the woods adopt in autumn. On the other hand, in winter, the water almost freezes completely. In May, ice starts to melt and the cherry blossom blooms, filling the landscape with pink shades. 

Ecological Initiatives in Japan

Kegon is part of the Nikko National Park that covers a territory of three different prefectures: Tochigi, Gunma and Fukushima. In total, they add up 114,908 hectares. Given its geographical complexity, it’s possible to find different types of vegetation that go from coniferous woods to shrubs and herbs. All of them will make your trip a unique experience. 

Also, if you love flowers, you’ll find many native species that only grow there given the nature of its volcanic soil. You’ll have plenty elements to add to your photo album! Of course, DINKtravelers will never promote cutting flowers or bringing any seeds back from your trip in order to avoid any negative impact on the ecosystem. 

Ecological Initiatives in Japan

Animals You’ll Find in Kegon

Fauna in Kegon is as varied as its flora, so you’ll find mammals such as monkeys and bears. Usually, they hide in the woods but if you find an expert guide, don’t hesitate to go and observe them. Just make sure that you hire a tour that ensures their protection and conservation. 

Pagodas at Nikko National Park

Nikko National Park is a combination of culture and nature. Apart from housing protected natural sites and volcanic activity areas, it’s full of pagodas. These are manifestations of the inhabitants’ spirituality and were declared World Heritage Sites in 1999. Also, most of them are considered part of the National Treasures of Japan. 

Pagodas at Nikko National Park

Visit the Chugushi Sanctuary

If you enjoy trailing, visit the Chugushi Sanctuary, one kilometer away from Lake Chiuzenji. The Sanctuary was built in 784 AD as a Buddhist temple. However, nowadays it’s a Shinto temple. There’s no better place than this to worship nature since it’s completely immerse in the woods. 

What to Eat in Nikko

Since Kegon Falls are located close to the city center, you’ll find many places where you can find traditional Japanese food. What’s more, you’ll also find vegetarian and even vegan options such as rice with vegetables. 

A Mexican Writer in Japan

Nights in Nikkon are quite special thanks to their wonderful weather. In case you doubt this, pay attention to what a famous writer said. Vicente Blasco Ibanez was a Mexican writer who visited Japan in the early 20thcentury. He left an account of his experience in this eastern island. Blasco Ibanez described the weather in mid December as cold but inspiring for long walks and discovery. He also described the night in one phrase: “A chorus of a thousand liquid voices that accompany the gurgling sounds of the birds found in the thickness.” Alluring, right? 

Suicides in Kegon

In Japan, there’s a constant relationship between millenary traditions and the new ways of life. Suicide is part of said traditions. For the samurai, ancient warriors, dying of old age was a symbol of dishonor. In another senses, we can also think about the kamikaze pilots of World War II. They crashed their aircrafts against those of their enemies in order to bring them down. 

The account of suicides in Kegon began with Misao Fujimura, a 16 year-old Philosophy student. Fujimura jumped over the falls after the end of a love affair in the early 20thcentury. He became famous because he carved a farewell poem on a tree in the woods. 

Misao Fujimura

[…]

We already teeter,

this sheer cliff so high.

When we fall to corruption,

insecurities die.

[…]


Misao Fujimura

After this event, Kegon became a popular place for young men who wanted to end their lives. 

Suicide in Japan

Suicide is a serious situation that Japanese society faces. What’s more, suicide rates multiplied after the financial crisis in the 1990s. To prevent it, they’ve created emergency lines, psychological institutions and they’ve warned against traditions that promote suicide. Just think about Aokigahara or Suicide Forest where many people have taken their lives. As a visitor, consider this information with due respect as part of the site’s history. 

How to Get to Kegon Falls

Nikko is located three hours away from Tokyo. If you buy the Nikko All Area Pass, valid for 4 days, you’ll be able to travel by train from Tokyo to Chuzenjiko Onsen station, which is located 5 minutes away from Kegon Falls. This pass is also valid all around Nikko for bus travel. They accept in in bus routes that go from the city center to the bus station. 

The Nikko Pass has two different costs depending on the season. From mid April to November it costs 4,520 yen (around 41 USD). And from December to mid April it costs 4,150 yen (around 38 USD). Buy it online or at train or bus stations. We specifically recommend taking the train in Asakusa, Tokyo. 

There are other transportation passes with similar costs, so choose one that best fits your travel itinerary. 

Now you know what you’ll do in your next trip to Japan