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Nabegataki Falls In Kyushu, Japan: The Complete Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Gertruda Goins



Welcome to Japan, a country known for its rich culture, fascinating history, and breathtaking natural beauty. Among the many wonders that Japan has to offer, one standout attraction is the Nabegataki Falls. Nestled in the Kyushu region, Nabegataki Falls is a hidden gem that delights visitors with its enchanting scenery and serene atmosphere.


Located in Oguni, Kumamoto Prefecture, Nabegataki Falls is a picturesque waterfall that cascades down a 20-meter wide rock face, creating a mesmerizing curtain of water. Its name, “Nabegataki,” which translates to “pot-shaped waterfall,” aptly describes the unique shape of this natural wonder.


What sets Nabegataki Falls apart from other waterfalls in Japan is its distinctive characteristic of allowing visitors to walk behind the curtain of water. This rare opportunity provides a truly immersive experience, where you can feel the mist on your skin and listen to the soothing sounds of the falling water.


Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone seeking tranquility amidst the beauty of nature, Nabegataki Falls offers an unforgettable experience. The combination of lush greenery, the sound of rushing water, and the invigorating atmosphere create a sense of harmony that will leave you in awe.


In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about Nabegataki Falls, from its location and directions to the best time to visit. We’ll also provide tips for capturing the perfect photograph and explore nearby attractions and activities to complement your visit. So, let’s dive in and unveil the wonders of Nabegataki Falls in Kyushu, Japan!


Overview of Nabegataki Falls

Nabegataki Falls is a natural wonder nestled in the lush green forests of Kyushu, Japan. It is renowned for its unique pot-shaped formation and the opportunity for visitors to walk behind the cascading curtain of water. The falls are created by the Shoryu River as it flows downstream, creating a spectacle of nature that attracts both locals and tourists alike.


With a width of 20 meters, Nabegataki Falls boasts an impressive display of force and beauty as the water rushes down the rock face, creating a mesmerizing scene that captivates the senses. The water plunges into a tranquil pool below, surrounded by rugged rocks and vibrant foliage, adding to the scenic beauty of the location.


One of the standout features of Nabegataki Falls is the unique opportunity it provides for visitors to walk behind the waterfall. This allows you to experience the falls from a completely different perspective, immersing yourself in the misty atmosphere and gently being showered by droplets of water as you navigate the rocky path behind the falls.


The surrounding area of Nabegataki Falls is also a sight to behold. Lush green forests envelop the falls, creating a serene and peaceful environment. The combination of the rushing water, the refreshing scent of nature, and the gentle chirping of birds creates a soothing atmosphere that makes it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.


Whether you visit Nabegataki Falls in the vibrant colors of spring or the lush greens of summer, you are guaranteed to be enchanted by its beauty. The falls transform with every season, creating a different ambience at different times of the year. In autumn, the foliage surrounding the falls turns into a breathtaking palette of red, orange, and gold, while in winter, the frozen falls create a stunningly serene scene.


As you explore the area around Nabegataki Falls, you will come across several smaller waterfalls and cascades that add to the overall charm of the location. These smaller falls, along with the tranquil pool below the main falls, provide perfect opportunities for photography and contemplation.


Overall, Nabegataki Falls is a natural masterpiece that showcases the raw beauty of Kyushu. Its unique formation, the invigorating walk behind the falls, and the serene atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.


Location and Directions

Nabegataki Falls is located in Oguni, a town in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Kyushu, Japan. Situated in the southwestern part of the country, Kyushu is known for its scenic landscapes and natural wonders, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.


Getting to Nabegataki Falls is relatively easy, whether you are traveling from within Japan or from abroad. The nearest major city to the falls is Kumamoto, which is well-connected by air, train, and bus services.


By Air:


If you are arriving from another country or a distant part of Japan, the most convenient option is to fly to Kumamoto Airport. Several domestic airlines operate regular flights to Kumamoto from major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka. Once you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or a local bus to Nabegataki Falls. The journey to the falls from the airport typically takes around one hour by road.


By Train:


If you prefer to travel by train, Kumamoto Station is the closest railway station to Nabegataki Falls. Kumamoto Station is well-connected to major cities in Japan via the Shinkansen (bullet train) network. From Kumamoto Station, you can take a local train or a bus to Oguni Station. From Oguni Station, Nabegataki Falls is approximately 15 minutes away by taxi or bus.


By Bus:


Another option is to take a bus from Kumamoto to Oguni. There are regular bus services operated by Kumamoto Bus that take you directly to Nabegataki Falls. The bus journey usually takes around 1-1.5 hours depending on the traffic and road conditions.


Once you arrive at Nabegataki Falls, there is a designated parking area where you can park your vehicle. From the parking area, a short walk along a well-marked path will lead you to the main viewing area of the falls.


Please note that it is advisable to check the current transportation schedules and availability before planning your trip, as they may be subject to change due to seasonal variations or unforeseen circumstances. It is also recommended to have a good map or GPS navigation system to ensure a smooth journey to your destination.


Nabegataki Falls is a hidden gem in the picturesque region of Kyushu, and reaching this natural wonder is well worth the effort. So pack your bags, prepare your travel arrangements, and get ready to embark on a memorable adventure to Nabegataki Falls in Oguni, Kumamoto Prefecture!


Best Time to Visit Nabegataki Falls

Nabegataki Falls is a stunning natural attraction that can be enjoyed throughout the year. However, the best time to visit may depend on your personal preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip.


Spring (March to May):


Spring is a beautiful time to visit Nabegataki Falls, as the surrounding landscape comes alive with vibrant colors. The fresh green leaves and blooming flowers create a picturesque backdrop for the cascading waterfall. Springtime also offers pleasant weather, with mild temperatures and lower levels of rainfall, making it an ideal season for hiking and exploring the trails around the falls.


Summer (June to August):


The summer months bring warmer weather to the region, making it a popular time to visit Nabegataki Falls. The lush greenery is in full bloom, and the waterfall is surrounded by a vibrant canopy of trees. It’s a great time to enjoy the refreshing mist as you walk behind the waterfall, providing relief from the heat. However, be prepared for higher levels of rainfall during this season, which can result in stronger water flow.


Autumn (September to November):


If you’re a fan of vibrant fall foliage, then autumn is the best time to visit Nabegataki Falls. The surrounding forests transform into a breathtaking tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a magical atmosphere. The contrast between the colorful foliage and the cascading water is truly awe-inspiring. It’s an excellent time for photography enthusiasts to capture the beauty of nature.


Winter (December to February):


Winter at Nabegataki Falls offers a unique and tranquil experience. As temperatures drop, the waterfall may freeze partially, creating an enchanting scene. The quiet serenity of the winter landscape adds an element of peacefulness to the already beautiful surroundings. Just be sure to dress warmly and be cautious of slippery paths.


Regardless of the season, it’s important to check weather forecasts and road conditions before visiting Nabegataki Falls. Rainfall can affect the water flow, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Weekdays often have fewer crowds compared to weekends or public holidays, allowing you to enjoy a more intimate experience with the falls.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Nabegataki Falls depends on your preferences and the experience you hope to have. Each season offers its own unique charm and beauty, ensuring that whenever you choose to visit, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing display of nature’s splendor at Nabegataki Falls.


Admission Fees and Opening Hours

When planning your visit to Nabegataki Falls, it is important to be aware of the admission fees and opening hours to make the most of your experience. Here are the details:


Admission Fees:


Fortunately, there is no admission fee to enter the main viewing area of Nabegataki Falls. Visitors can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the falls and explore the surrounding walking trails free of charge. This makes it an affordable attraction for individuals, families, and groups alike.


Opening Hours:


The opening hours of Nabegataki Falls vary depending on the season. It is generally open daily, but it is worth noting the following schedule:

  • Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November): The falls are typically open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Summer (June to August): The falls have extended hours and are open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
  • Winter (December to February): The falls have reduced hours and are open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Please note that these hours are subject to change due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances. It is advisable to check the official website or contact the local tourism office for the most up-to-date information before your visit.


It is also important to keep in mind that the opening hours may differ for specific areas of Nabegataki Falls, such as the walking trails or the walk behind the falls. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly to have enough time to explore and fully enjoy the beauty of this natural wonder.


While there are no strict time limits for visiting the falls, it is recommended to arrive at least an hour before closing time to fully immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere and make the most of your visit. Additionally, arriving earlier in the day may offer a more peaceful and less crowded experience.


Now that you are aware of the admission fees and opening hours, you can plan your trip to Nabegataki Falls accordingly. Remember to check the latest information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience at this breathtaking natural attraction.


Hiking Trails and Viewing Points

Nabegataki Falls offers more than just a stunning waterfall; it also provides scenic hiking trails and multiple viewing points that allow visitors to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the area. Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone looking for a leisurely stroll, there are options for everyone to enjoy.


1. Main Viewing Area and Walk Behind the Falls:


The main viewing area of Nabegataki Falls offers a spectacular vantage point to admire the cascading water and the surrounding landscape. From this viewpoint, you can witness the sheer power and beauty of the falls as it plummets into the pool below. Don’t forget to snap some photos to capture the enchanting scene.


One of the unique features of Nabegataki Falls is the opportunity to walk behind the falling water. A well-maintained path guides you on a short, scenic walk behind the waterfall, where you can feel the mist on your face and experience the awe-inspiring sight and sound of the water rushing past you. It’s a truly immersive experience that shouldn’t be missed.


2. Forest Trails:


For nature enthusiasts and hikers, Nabegataki Falls offers various forest trails that allow you to explore the surrounding area at your own pace. These trails meander through the lush greenery, providing an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural surroundings. Along the trails, you’ll encounter smaller waterfalls, serene streams, and an abundance of flora and fauna.


It is recommended to wear suitable footwear and bring water and snacks for the hike, as some of the trails may require moderate physical exertion. Make sure to also check the trail conditions and any safety guidelines provided by the park authorities before embarking on the hike.


3. Viewing Decks and Picnic Areas:


Throughout the Nabegataki Falls area, there are strategically positioned viewing decks that offer different perspectives of the falls. These decks provide panoramic views and are great spots to simply relax and soak in the beauty of the surroundings. Some decks also have seating areas, making them perfect for a picnic lunch or a peaceful moment of reflection.


4. Nearby Observation Tower:


If you’re looking to get a bird’s-eye view of the area, there is an observation tower located near Nabegataki Falls. Climbing to the top of the tower allows you to appreciate the grandeur of the falls and the lush landscape from a higher vantage point. It offers a unique perspective that complements the experience of being at ground level.


When exploring the hiking trails and viewing points at Nabegataki Falls, be sure to follow any posted signage, respect the natural environment, and adhere to safety guidelines. Leave no trace by properly disposing of any waste and refrain from damaging plants or wildlife.


Whether you choose to walk behind the falls, hike through the forest trails, or simply enjoy the views from the decks, the hiking trails and viewing points at Nabegataki Falls offer a memorable experience that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.


Photography Tips at Nabegataki Falls

Nabegataki Falls presents a captivating subject for photography enthusiasts. The combination of the cascading water, the lush greenery, and the unique rock formations create endless possibilities for capturing stunning images. To make the most of your photography experience at Nabegataki Falls, here are some helpful tips:


1. Visit During the Golden Hour:


The “golden hour,” which refers to the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset, offers magical lighting conditions for photography. The soft, warm light during this time enhances the colors and textures of the landscape, resulting in breathtaking photos. Plan your visit to Nabegataki Falls during these times to capture the falls in their most enchanting glow.


2. Use a Tripod:


When photographing waterfalls, using a tripod is highly recommended to ensure sharp images. The long exposures needed to capture the silky-smooth flow of the water can be challenging to achieve while handholding the camera. A stable tripod will steady your camera and allow for longer exposures without blur, resulting in striking images of the flowing water.


3. Experiment with Long Exposures:


Long exposures can create a beautiful effect on the flowing water, transforming it into a silky, ethereal cascade. To achieve long exposures, use a low ISO and a narrow aperture (high f-number) to let less light into the camera. You will need to use longer shutter speeds, which can range from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the desired effect.


4. Capture Different Angles:


Don’t be afraid to explore different angles and perspectives when photographing Nabegataki Falls. Experiment with shooting from different heights and distances to find unique compositions. Consider getting low to the ground for an interesting foreground or positioning yourself on a higher vantage point for a sweeping view of the falls. These different angles can add depth and visual interest to your photographs.


5. Include People for Scale:


To showcase the grandeur of the falls, try including people in your photos. By adding human subjects, you provide a sense of scale and convey the magnitude of the natural surroundings. This can create a more engaging and impactful image that helps viewers appreciate the size and power of the falls.


6. Capture Details and Close-ups:


While wide-angle shots of the entire falls are impressive, don’t forget to capture the smaller details and textures around Nabegataki Falls. Get up close to capture the intricate patterns in the rocks, the glistening water droplets, or the vibrant hues of the nearby foliage. These close-up shots provide a different perspective and can add variety to your photography collection.


7. Be Mindful of the Weather:


The weather conditions can greatly impact your photography at Nabegataki Falls. Rainy or overcast days can add drama to your images, with the clouds creating a moody atmosphere. On the other hand, clear blue skies can provide a beautiful backdrop and allow for vibrant colors. Monitor the weather forecast before your visit to plan the type of shots you want to capture.


Remember to respect the natural surroundings and follow any guidelines in place to preserve the beauty of Nabegataki Falls for future visitors. Take your time, experiment with different techniques, and enjoy the process of capturing the magical essence of this breathtaking waterfall through your camera lens.


Nearby Attractions and Activities

When visiting Nabegataki Falls, take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area, as there are several other attractions and activities to enhance your experience. Here are some nearby attractions that you might consider adding to your itinerary:


1. Aso Kuju National Park:


Located just a short distance from Nabegataki Falls, Aso Kuju National Park offers an array of natural wonders to explore. From mountains and valleys to hot springs and expansive meadows, this national park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike the trails, take in the panoramic views, and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of the park.


2. Mount Aso:


Rising majestically in the distance, Mount Aso is an active volcano and one of the largest calderas in the world. Take a scenic drive or cable car ride up the mountain to marvel at the breathtaking views and experience the unique volcanic landscape. If conditions allow, you may even have the chance to peer into the volcanic crater.


3. Kurokawa Onsen:


If you’re looking for relaxation and rejuvenation, a visit to Kurokawa Onsen is a must. This charming hot spring village is nestled in the mountains and offers a serene atmosphere. Enjoy a traditional Japanese onsen bath, stroll through the quaint streets, and savor delicious local cuisine at one of the many traditional inns and restaurants available.


4. Daikanbo lookout:


For panoramic views of the stunning countryside, head to Daikanbo lookout. Situated in Aso Kuju National Park, this observation point offers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding valleys, mountains, and volcanic landscapes. Capture the beauty of the vast landscape and take in the awe-inspiring scenery that stretches as far as the eye can see.


5. Oguni Town:


Take the time to explore the charming town of Oguni itself. Stroll through the streets, browse the local shops, and sample regional delicacies. Oguni is known for its traditional crafts, such as pottery and lacquerware, which make for unique souvenirs to take home.


6. Outdoor Activities:


In addition to the sightseeing opportunities, Oguni and the surrounding areas offer a range of outdoor activities. Hiking, cycling, and birdwatching are popular choices for those seeking an active adventure amidst the picturesque landscapes.

7. Kumamoto Castle:


If you have the time, take a trip to Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan’s most impressive castles. With its grand architecture and historical significance, Kumamoto Castle is a fascinating glimpse into Japan’s feudal past. Explore the castle grounds and immerse yourself in history while enjoying stunning views of the city.


These are just a few of the attractions and activities near Nabegataki Falls and Oguni. The region is rich in history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for a well-rounded exploration of Kyushu’s wonders.


Remember to check the opening hours, fees (if applicable), and accessibility of each attraction before planning your visit. With so much to see and do nearby, your time in the area will undoubtedly be filled with unforgettable experiences and memories to cherish.


Facilities and Amenities

When visiting Nabegataki Falls, you’ll find a range of facilities and amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some of the facilities that you can expect to find:


1. Parking Area:


There is a designated parking area near Nabegataki Falls where visitors can park their vehicles. The parking area is well-maintained and can accommodate a significant number of cars, ensuring that you won’t have to worry about finding a spot. It’s important to note that there may be a small parking fee, so be prepared with some coins or cash.


2. Restrooms:


Conveniently located near the parking area and main viewing area, there are restrooms available for visitors to use. These facilities are clean and well-maintained, providing a necessary convenience during your visit to Nabegataki Falls.


3. Picnic Areas and Benches:


Throughout the Nabegataki Falls area, you’ll find picnic areas equipped with benches and tables. This provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely meal surrounded by the scenic beauty of the falls. Pack a picnic lunch or grab some local snacks and relax in these designated areas while taking in the breathtaking views.


4. Information Center:


At the entrance or near the main viewing area, you may find an information center or visitor center. Staffed by knowledgeable personnel, these centers offer helpful resources, maps, and information about Nabegataki Falls and the surrounding area. They can provide insight on the best viewing spots, hiking trails, and answer any questions you may have.


5. Snack Stands and Vendors:


There may be snack stands or food vendors operating near Nabegataki Falls, offering a selection of refreshments and local treats. Indulge in some delicious street food or grab a cold drink to keep hydrated during your visit.


It is important to note that while there are some facilities available, they may be limited in scale. It’s advisable to bring essentials such as drinking water, sunscreen, and insect repellent to ensure your comfort during your time at Nabegataki Falls.


Additionally, it is always good practice to follow any rules or guidelines set by the park authorities to ensure the safety of yourself and other visitors. This may include staying on designated paths, refraining from littering, and respecting the natural surroundings.


Overall, the facilities and amenities provided at Nabegataki Falls aim to enhance the visitor experience and make your trip more enjoyable. From parking and picnic areas to restrooms and information centers, these amenities cater to the needs of visitors, allowing you to focus on immersing yourself in the mesmerizing beauty of this natural wonder.


Safety Guidelines at Nabegataki Falls

While exploring the captivating beauty of Nabegataki Falls, it’s essential to prioritize safety to ensure a pleasant and incident-free experience. To help you have a safe visit, here are some important safety guidelines to keep in mind:


1. Follow Posted Signs and Guidelines:


Pay attention to any signs, information boards, or guidelines posted in the park. These signs provide important instructions about safety, trail conditions, and potential hazards. Following these guidelines will help to protect both yourself and the natural environment.


2. Stay on Designated Paths:


Stick to designated paths and trails when navigating around Nabegataki Falls. Deviating from the designated routes can be hazardous and may cause damage to delicate ecosystems. Respecting the designated paths will ensure your safety and also preserve the beauty of the park for future visitors.


3. Beware of Slippery Surfaces:


Take caution when walking near the falls as the rocks and pathways can become slippery, especially after rain or during the winter months. Wear appropriate footwear with good traction to help prevent slips and falls. Always use handrails and watch your step when walking on wet surfaces.


4. Be Mindful of Weather Conditions:


Weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s important to be aware of the forecast before your visit. Heavy rain can lead to increased water flow, making the trails more treacherous. In adverse weather conditions, it may be best to reschedule your visit for a safer time.


5. Be Cautious of Falling Objects:


There may be loose rocks or debris near the falls, so be mindful of your surroundings and stay clear of any potentially unstable areas. Refrain from climbing on rocks or leaning over barriers for your safety. Avoid standing directly under overhanging rocks or ledges to minimize the risk of falling objects due to erosion or other natural factors.


6. Keep an Eye on Children:


If you are visiting with children, keep a close eye on them to ensure their safety at all times. Children should always be supervised, especially near the water and on the trails. Educate them about the importance of staying on designated paths and safe behavior in natural environments.


7. Carry Essential Supplies:


Bring necessary supplies such as water, snacks, a hat, sun protection, and insect repellent. Staying hydrated and protected from the elements will contribute to your overall well-being during your visit to Nabegataki Falls.


8. Leave No Trace:


Help preserve the natural beauty of Nabegataki Falls by practicing the ethos of “Leave No Trace.” Dispose of your waste properly and respect the environment. Take any trash with you when you leave the park, and avoid disturbing the plants, animals, or other natural elements of the area.


By adhering to these safety guidelines, you can ensure that your visit to Nabegataki Falls is enjoyable, memorable, and above all, safe. Embrace the beauty of nature while being mindful of your own well-being and that of the surrounding environment.



Nabegataki Falls in Kyushu, Japan, is a hidden gem that promises a truly enchanting experience. With its unique pot-shaped formation, the mesmerizing cascade of water, and the opportunity to walk behind the falls, Nabegataki Falls offers a captivating journey into the heart of nature’s beauty.


Throughout the year, the falls transform with the changing seasons, creating a different atmosphere and visual spectacle at every visit. Spring brings fresh green foliage, while summer offers a refreshing mist to cool off. Autumn paints the surrounding landscape with vibrant hues, and winter provides a serene and tranquil scene.


Exploring the area around Nabegataki Falls also unveils a wealth of natural wonders. From hiking trails that wind through lush forests to nearby attractions like Aso Kuju National Park and Kurokawa Onsen, there is no shortage of adventures to embark on and sights to behold.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking solace in the beauty of Japan’s natural landscape, Nabegataki Falls is a must-visit destination. Its serene atmosphere, picturesque surroundings, and accessibility make it an ideal spot for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.


Remember to plan your visit carefully, taking note of the best time to go, admission fees (if applicable), and the opening hours. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the safety guidelines, respecting the environment and following the suggested trails to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


As you embark on your journey to Nabegataki Falls, take the time to immerse yourself in the beauty of the waterfall, the serenity of the surroundings, and the soothing sounds of nature. Capture the moments through your camera lens, but also take the opportunity to appreciate the experience with your own eyes and senses.


From the awe-inspiring sight of the falls to the tranquil forest trails, Nabegataki Falls promises a memorable adventure in the heart of Kyushu, Japan. So pack your essentials, embrace the allure of nature, and discover the extraordinary beauty of Nabegataki Falls. Your journey awaits!