One of the most famous views of Japan is Nachi Falls!
And the pagoda!
👆 Nachi Falls and the pagoda: This is one of the famous pictures of Japan. Is it the most famous pagoda in Japan?! Well, it’s a competition with the picture of Mount Fuji and the pagoda!
Nachi Falls is often a final stop on one’s Kumano Kodo itinerary, whether you are doing the classic Kumano Kodo hike or you are doing the Kumano Kodo area by bus.
Nachi Falls can be your final stop when you are doing the Nakahechi Route.
You can also go to Nachi Falls on its own, without doing any other parts of the Kumano Kodo if that’s all you want to make time for.
You don’t need to spend a full day at Nachi Falls.
If you want to see it all around Nachi Falls by walking it all, you could do it quickly in 2 hours of time around Nachi Falls.
It would be much better if you have at least 3 to 4 hours however, as 2 hours is really rushing it!
But I can tell you that you can do it all in 2 hours, because that is how much time I had!
Of course, the more time you have, the more you can take it all in!
This time also doesn’t include the transit time to and from Nachi Falls which will depend on where you are coming from and where you are going afterwards.
With a half day around Nachi Falls, you can walk up one of the famous Kumano Kodo slopes, see really big and old trees (800 years!), see one of the “big 3” Kumano grand shrines, see some tall waterfalls, and then of course see one of the most famous views of Japan!
You should also know that a trip to Nachi Falls can mean a lot of STAIRS!
Nachi Falls travel guide
- Where is Nachi Falls?
- Nachi Falls hike: What is there to do near Nachi Falls
- How to get to Nachi Falls: Bus from Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station
- Nachi Falls bus
- How to get around Nachi Falls
- Yunomine Onsen to Nachi Falls
- Nachi Falls itinerary
Where is Nachi Falls?
Nachi Falls is located on the Kii Peninsula in the prefecture of Wakayama.
👆 Where is Nachi Falls Japan: Explore the map.
You can make Nachi Falls a part of your Japan route as you travel the Kumano Kodo in Wakayama prefecture.
Nachi Falls hike: What to do around Nachi Falls
The ultimate Japan experience #1: You can read the reviews for watching sumo training!
The ultimate Japan experience #2: You can read the reviews for the samurai lesson at a dojo!
The ultimate Japan experience #3: You can read the reviews for the tea ceremony!
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Traveling around Japan and can't read Japanese? No problem! Just use the camera on the google translate app!
For the best experience around Nachi Falls, make it a walk (“hike”!) to Nachi Falls from further away!
It is possible to start your walk closer to Nachi Falls, but if you don’t mind walking, you should start your Nachi Falls hike from the Daimonzaka Slope!
Below takes you through what you were to see if you walk to Nachi Falls from Daimonzaka.
1. Kumano Kodo Daimonzaka Slope
Japanese: kumano kodo daimonzaka / 熊野古道大門坂 / くまのこどうだいもんざか
2. 800-year-old Meoto Sugi trees (Daimonzaka)
Japanese: meotosugi / 夫婦杉 / めおとすぎ
3. Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine
Japanese: kumano nachi taisha / 熊野那智大社 / くまのなちたいしゃ
4. Nachisan Seiganto-ji Temple
Japanese: nachisan seigantoji / 那智山青岸渡寺 / なちさんせいがんとじ
5. Nachi Falls pagoda lookout
What you came for! It’s not an official Nachi Falls lookout or overlook. If you follow the walking route to Nachi Falls as it’s listed here, you will see this as you are walking down the stairs from the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine!
6. Laughing Buddha
👆 Spot the Laughing Buddha! Spot Nachi Falls! (Hint: left!)
7. Nachisan Pagoda
Japanese: nachisan seigantoji sanjyunoto / 那智山青岸渡寺三重塔 / なちさんせいがんとじさんじゅうのとう
8. Hiro-jinja Shrine
Japanese: hirojinja / 飛瀧神社 / ひろうじんじゃ
9. Nachi Falls (Hiro-jinja Shrine)
Japanese: nachi no taki / 那智の滝 / なちのたき
How to get to Nachi Falls: Bus from Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station
You will not be in the direct Nachi Falls area (aka where all the attractions are) at Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station.
You need to take a bus from Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station to get to the Nachi Falls area.
Which station is best will depend on your route and whether you are going to Nachi Falls as a day trip from nearby and with or without luggage.
If you have luggage and an onwards journey directly after Nachi Falls, then Kii-Katsuura Station might be easier. You can expect there to be coin lockers at Kii-Katsuura Station (the train station) for luggage storage.
Kii-Katsuura Station will also have more connections than Nachi Station if you are leaving Wakayama prefecture after Nachi Falls.
Similarly, if you are coming from far away (aka outside of Wakayama prefecture), there are better connections to Kii-Katsuura Station compared to Nachi Station.
There are also direct buses from Shingu to Nachi Station and Kii-Katsuura Station. If you are coming from Shingu, you will have to go to one of these stations, and then get a bus to Nachi Falls. Again, which one is best will depend on if you’re doing Nachi Falls as a day trip without luggage, or if you will need to store luggage somewhere.
How long does it take to get to Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station?
- Shingu to Nachi Station is around 20 to 45 minutes, depending on your timing! (240 to 570 yen, less than US$2 to $5)
- Shingu to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 20 to 45 minutes (240 to 630 yen)
- Wakayama City to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 3 hours on a direct train (5700 yen, less than US$50)
- Nagoya to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 4 hours on a direct train (7900 yen, less than US$75)
- Osaka to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 4 hours with a transfer (7100 yen, less than US$70)
- Kyoto to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 5 hours with a transfer (9000 yen, less than US$80)
- Tokyo to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 6 hours with a transfer (16,700 yen, less than $150)
- Ise to Kii-Katsuura Station is around 3 hours with a transfer (5900 yen, less than US$50)
Google maps makes travel around Japan super easy! Consult google maps for suggested routes to Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station! Just select the public transportation icon! It is also helpful to change the departure time to a time that you might be leaving. If the current time is at night, the suggested route may be unhelpful! If you are traveling with a JR pass, you will just want to be sure to get on the JR trains when possible. (The local buses around Nachi Falls do not accept the JR pass.) If you are traveling without a JR pass, then you can choose the most convenient route! Google maps also gives approximate cost.
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Nachi Falls bus: General tips for taking the local bus to Nachi Falls (and most local buses in Japan)
You need to take a local bus to get to the Nachi Falls area.
Once again, consult google maps to guide your way! It makes knowing where to get on the bus and where to get off the bus super easy!
You pay for the bus as you get off the bus. You don’t need to buy a ticket ahead of time.
You will get on the bus from the back door, not the front. As you get on the bus, you need to look for a little ticket to grab. This will have a number on it, and it will allow you to determine how much you need to pay when you get off the bus.
If you get on the bus where the bus route starts, then there likely won’t be a ticket. In this case, for purposes of figuring out your bus fare later, your “ticket” is number 1.
Once your bus stop is the next stop, you will press a little button to signify to the bus driver to get off next. There will be an announcement, and there is a display sign at the front of the bus that will tell you the next bus stop.
Then, you will also look at the front of the bus to find out how much the bus fare costs. You will look for the number that’s on the ticket that you grabbed as you got on the bus, and that is how much you need to pay for the bus fare.
Once the bus arrives at your bus stop, you’ll go to the front of the bus. You’ll put exact change into the fare box. There will be no change given to you.
If you need smaller change, it is also possible to break a 1,000 yen bill in the coin machine at the front of the bus. You can do this as you get off the bus. You cannot break a 5,000 yen bill, so be sure to have coins and/or 1,000 yen bills for the bus to Nachi-san.
More about how to take the local bus to Nachi Falls
For the visual: here is how to take the local bus in Kyoto, which is similar to how to take the local bus from Nachi Station and other local buses in Japan.
Best way to get around the Nachi Falls area: WALK!
The best way to see the Nachi Falls area is to walk!
If you are up for walking all of the Nachi Falls area, then you can get the bus from Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station to the Daimonzaka bus stop.
Then, you can start your walk! (Destination: Nachi Falls!)
There are lots of signs along the way, so you will basically just be following the signs.
Once you get off the bus stop, then you will go to Daimonzaka, then Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, then Nachi Falls.
There is a bus stop near Nachi Falls to get back to Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura Station.
If you prefer (a little) less walking, then the bus stops in the Nachi Falls area are at Daimonzaka (daimonzaka bus stop), Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine (nachisan bus stop), and Nachi Falls (nachi-no-taki bus stop).
Yunomine Onsen to Nachi Falls: What I did in October 2022
So I went from Yunomine Onsen to Shingu by bus, walked around Shingu for a few hours, and then from Shingu to Nachi by bus.
A fun way to get to Shingu that I missed out on is by BOAT! (It was booked up when I called the day before I wanted to do it.)
There is the Kumano River boat tour with a final destination of Shingu. You can get to the starting point of the Kumano River boat tour by bus, which is the Michi-no-eki Kumano-gawa bus stop. Then, you can get a bus from Shingu to Nachi.
If you plan out your day well, it can be reasonable to do both Shingu and Nachi in one day.
I did not plan out my day that well in advance, and therefore was really rushing around Nachi Falls (and even Shingu) because of the limited bus timings.
I didn’t realize the effect of the limited bus timings until I got to Shingu.
But still, it worked out well enough!
I stayed 2 nights in the Kumano Kodo town of Yunomine Onsen at J-Hoppers Yunomine.
This is a few minutes walk from the Yunomine Onsen bus stop, and it’s also a few minutes walk from access to the Kumano Kodo trail that goes right through Yunomine Onsen.
J-Hoppers also has a private onsen (hot springs) available for your use 24/7!
There are dorm beds (aka this is a hostel) and there are private rooms available. It’s around 3800 yen for a dorm bed (less than $35), 10,000 yen for a private room for 2 people (less than US$100), 13,800 yen for a private room for 3 people (less than $130).
I checked out of the guesthouse, and then got on a bus to Shingu. I stored my luggage in a Shingu Station coin locker. (This is the train station across the bus stop.) It’s 500 yen for a medium size locker (less than US$5).
Then, it was off to walk through Shingu. My last walking stop in Shingu was the Kamikura Jinja Shrine. I looked at google maps for directions to Nachi Falls as I started walking away from the shrine, and I saw that there was a bus leaving soon from the bus stop near the shrine. And so, I got on a bus to Nachi Falls from there. (Because… I forgot I had to go back to Shingu Station for my luggage… 😱😵😑😂🤦🤦🤦 And with the limited bus timings for both Shingu and Nachi, it meant careful timing was required to go back to Shingu and leave Shingu afterwards!)
It was a 45 minute bus ride from Shingu to Nachi Station.
Then from there, you need to get another bus to any of the above listed Nachi Falls attractions. (Also limited bus timings.)
After Nachi Falls (and picking up my luggage), I took a train to Ise.
Knowing what I know now (and if I wouldn’t have forgotten my luggage…) after Shingu I would have gone to Kii-Katsuura Station, and then gotten the bus to Nachi Falls from there, because I was leaving the area after Nachi Falls. I would have gone to the Kii-Katsuura train station to store my luggage at the coin lockers. After I got back from Nachi Falls, I would be able to get a train from Kii-Katsuura to Ise (Iseshi Station). (Nachi Station is not as well connected to destinations further away.)
A note on Japanese yen to USD conversion: For a quick and easy conversion in my head, I had always done 100 yen = US$1. But, the reality of late 2022 is that 100 yen is much less than $1. When I did this trip to Nachi Falls in October 2022, it had hit 150 yen = US$1. 😱 So the approximate USD is actually much less than the above listed approximate USD figures! Of course, the amount you will pay will depend on what the exchange rate is when you go, but this can start to give you an idea. For easy conversion, you can simply type into google “8500 yen to usd” for example. When I checked just now on this October 2022 day, it said 8500 yen was less than US$60.
Nachi Falls itinerary
Of course, your day can vary based on how much time you decide to spend in different places.
As mentioned, I was rushed around Nachi Falls!
But, to give you an idea, this was how a couple of hours around Nachi Falls was for me!
- 1:30pm: Arrive at Nachi Station (you can also arrive at Kii-Katsuura Station)
- Go to tourist information center near station (get Nachi Falls tourist maps!)
- 2pm: Bus from Nachi Station (10 minutes)
- Arrive at Daimonzaka bus stop
- Walk to Daimonzaka start (5 minutes)
- Walk up the Daimonzaka steps! (20 minutes if you’re fast!)
- Continue walking to Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine (up, up, up!)
- 2:45pm: Walk around Kumano Nachi Taisha
- Continue walking, following signs to Nachi Falls
- 3pm: See the famous view of Nachi Falls and pagoda!
- Walk down the steps to see the laughing Buddha
- Get a closer look of the pagoda (Walk up the pagoda for 300 yen)
- Continue walking and following signs to Nachi Falls to get closer views of the waterfalls
- 3:20pm: Arrive at Nachi Falls! (Enter the waterfall worship stage for 300 yen for the closest views of the waterfalls)
- Walk to Nachi Falls bus stop (nachi-no-taki-mae bus stop)
- 3:45pm: Bus to Nachi Station or Kii-Katsuura!
👆 Nachi Falls map: Stop by a tourism information center in the Kumano Kodo area to get a Nachi Falls area map! You can also ask for the Nachi Falls bus schedule, along with other bus schedules around Kumano Kodo.
HAPPY TRIP TO NACHI FALLS!
NEXT UP: YUNOMINE ONSEN! (private onsen hot springs!)
NEXT UP: HONGU!
NEXT UP: SHINGU!
NEXT UP: ISE!
more: my kumano kodo itinerary
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Is a JR pass worth it?!
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- In google maps, type in your departure and arrival city, and choose the transit icon. The route will come up, and so will the estimated cost at the bottom!
- Here is an example of a train route with cost on google maps.
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- And compare!
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