The Gorogotaki Waterfall is the largest falls in Yamato, Kumamoto with a 50m drop into the basin below. The beauty of this waterfall on Kyushu Island is that often it is crowned by a rainbow as the water crashed down onto the rocks, spraying up and catching the light perfectly in a stream of color.
HOW TO GET TO GOROGOTAKI WATERFALL
Gorogotaki Waterfall is just about an hour’s drive from Kumamoto Town. The pin below shows exactly where in Yamato you can find the falls. There are a number of different parking lots you can choose and when we visited they were fixing the bridge, which gave us a bit of a detour but it’s a small area so it isn’t oo important about where to park. Depending on where you park, you can follow the trail to the suspension bridge, which is where the best viewing spot is for the waterfall. You can also take the trail on one end of the suspension bridge, which leads down to the basin of the waterfall. I’ve included the Gorogotaki Waterfall map below.
MY EXPERIENCE AT THE GOROGOTAKI WATERFALL
After an hour-long drive from Kumamoto, we arrived in a parking lot in Yamato. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as there wasn’t too much posted online about Gorogotaki Falls and I didn’t really know how to find the falls either. We set off down a trail that had ‘Do not enter’ signs. It was the correct trail but it was closed as they were fixing the bridge. We turned back and this time did a huge lap on the roads to enter via the tourist center and the small bridge near the rice paddies.
It turned out to be a long way round but it was a beautiful area for a walk. The trail began with lots of small rice paddies as we passed by the Tsujun Bridge, which is an 84m-long stone bridge built in the year 1854.
After a short walk up and over the hill, we made our way down to the suspension bridge, which spans across the river that is fed from the falls. This is where the Gorogotaki Waterfall is best viewed from. It was very sturdy and probably my favorite spot on the whole adventure.
As we walked out across the suspension bridge we could hear the thunderous roar to our right. Once we neared the middle of the bridge the epic Gorogotaki Waterfall revealed itself complete with its trademark rainbow creating a magical scene.
After admiring the waterfall from the suspension bridge we headed to the other side of the bridge (left-hand side when facing the waterfall) and then we were met with two signs. One led up to the right, which was back to the parking lot to complete the loop or one led down to the waterfall basin. We decided to go explore down at the base of the waterfall.
It was a beautiful atmosphere down here at the river-level with no other tourists (not that there were any above on the bridge) and just the birds chirping. A few rays of sunlight burst through the dense forest. We wound our way down the stairs before walking along a stunning boardwalk that leads you through the small gorge to the waterfall basin.
The boardwalk leads you straight into the waterfall basin where you can truly see the power of the falls as it pounds down on the rocks below. It’s a great spot to relax for a little bit although the benches and tables provided seem to have succumbed to a flooding incident as they were damaged and trees and rocks were strewn everywhere.
According to the maps along the trail, there is meant to be a second waterfall. We searched for it but we didn’t find another waterfall that was pictured on the map as one that falls down off the cliff. We did find a small waterfall but I’m not sure it is the ‘second falls’. Leave a comment below if you can confirm that or not.
After finding this waterfall, we then looped all the way back to the suspension bridge and trekked up the stairs to the parking lot to complete our adventure at Gorogotaki Waterfall in Yamato, Kyushu.
KYUSHU TRAVEL TIPS
WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Here’s a checklist for you to start:
- Fukuoka: If you want to be in a vibrant city scene and a central base, you may want to stay in Fukuoka.
- Kumamoto (my pick): If you’re looking to get away from the bustling city life and be centrally positioned for all hotspot tourist locations then visit and stay in Kumamoto.
- Beppu: If you want to check out a lot of hot springs, mud baths, and sand baths, Beppu in Oita prefecture is the best place for you.
- Kagoshima: If you are eager to go hiking in Kirishima and see Mt. Sakurajima, head to Kagoshima prefecture.
- Yakushima (Separate Island): If you want to hike through the stunning Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley, see ancient cedar trees, and waterfalls, Yakushima is the best place for you.
For a full article about how to split up your time between the popular regions in Kyushu, check out my guide about how to plan your Kyushu Itinerary: THE ULTIMATE KYUSHU ITINERARY: 5-DAY, 7-DAY & 10-DAY
WHERE TO STAY IN KYUSHU
Best Luxury Place to Stay in Fukuoka: Hotel WBF Grande Hakata (Value): This is by far the most popular hotel and one of the most luxurious in Fukuoka. There are a large public bath and an open-air bath on the top level of the hotel where guests can relax and enjoy the views.
Best Value/Budget Place to Stay in Fukuoka: WeBase Hakata Hostel (Budget): This stylish hostel offers a wide range of dorm-type rooms with shared bathrooms, sockets, and safes for your belongings. They also have a kitchen, a terrace, and is within walking distance to convenience stores, a subway station, ramen shops, and sightseeing spots.
Best Value Place to Stay in Kumamoto: Hotel The Gate Kumamoto (Value): Hotel The Gate is a well-situated accommodation in the heart of Kumamoto, just across the train station and walking distance to shops and restaurants.
Best Budget Luxury Place to Stay in Kumamoto: Kumamoto Hotel Castle (Luxury): Set near the infamous Kumamoto Castle, this luxury hotel features a wide range of carpeted rooms from standard rooms to suites fitted with plush amenities.
For a full list of the top-rated places to stay in Kyushu, you can check out my comprehensive guide: WHERE TO STAY IN KYUSHU: BEST REGIONS & HOTELS
HOW TO GET AROUND KYUSHU FOR ADVENTURERS
While the train may suit those in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and even in Fukuoka, it won’t cut it out here on Kyushu. The trains will get you from major towns and even into some regional areas with bus connection but almost all of the adventure sports I visited had no bus connection. When I searched on Google Maps and clicked the public transport option it would just say ‘not available’. It was very clear, very quickly that Kyushu island is best to explore by car, especially if you are doing hikes and activities outside of the city (literally everything on this list).
Renting a car wasn’t too expensive and I did it through RentalCars.com, finding them to be the best-reviewed and had the cheapest options. I flew in from Tokyo so picked the car up from Fukuoka Airport and dropped it back when I was done. If you click on RentalCars.com and then search to pick up at Fukuoka Airport you should find a range of options. I got a very small car as it was cheap but it turned out very handy as the narrow roads of Japanse suburbs where my Airbnb was made it impossible for big SUVs. There was also no time that I needed to be off-road or anything like that so a small, fuel-efficient car made it cheap and convenient.
*** It is extremely important to know that you MUST HAVE an international driver’s license to rent a car in Japan. In fact, they won’t even look at your actual driver’s license and only want to see the international driver’s license. Take that seriously as they genuinely will not give you the car and likely no refund if you don’t have that. To get one you need to be in your country of residence and you can get one on the spot or order online and receive in a week or so. Make sure you organize that in advance as I almost got caught out not knowing that.
Here is my little blue whip that I rented on RentalCars.com
ARE YOU FOLLOWING MY KYUSHU BLOG SERIES?
I spent over three weeks exploring Kyushu and visited some incredible waterfalls, hiked some amazing trails, and visited a number of epic volcanoes. I created a number of guides to help travelers find the best spots in Kyushu. You can explore the articles by clicking on the links below.
The Ultimate Kyushu Bucketlist: 30 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN KYUSHU
A guide to the best places to stay in Kyushu in each region: WHERE TO STAY IN KYUSHU: BEST REGIONS & HOTELS
How to plan your Kyushu vacation: THE ULTIMATE KYUSHU ITINERARY: 5-DAY, 7-DAY & 10-DAY
Interested in chasing waterfalls?: 12 AWESOME WATERFALLS IN KYUSHU
Keen for some epic hiking?: 11 AWESOME HIKES IN KYUSHU
Everything you need to know about Oita: 11 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN OITA
Your Ultimate Guide to Kumamoto: 13 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN KUMAMOTO
My favorite waterfall in Kyushu: TAKACHIHO GORGE – MOST BEAUTIFUL WATERFALL IN JAPAN