The island of Kyushu is in the south of Japan and is well known for its very active volcanoes and hot springs/onsens. However, there are also so many incredible waterfalls to be found in this region. I explored Kyushu for three weeks and managed to visit lots of beautiful waterfalls throughout my adventures, which I’ve documented in this blog post so you can check out some of the best waterfalls on Kyushu Island as well.
I’ve listed all twelve of the Kyushu waterfalls below and split them up into the region I was staying in when I visited them so you can plan which waterfall to visit depending on where you are staying. There are, of course, lots more waterfalls on Kyushu Island to explore and these twelve are just scraping the surface.
12 AWESOME WATERFALLS ON KYUSHU ISLAND
A few of the waterfalls detailed below will have a link to a more comprehensive guide I’ve written about that waterfall. You can click on that link for more photos, directions, and details about what to expect at that specific location.
GOROGA TAKI FALLS
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. My favorite part about this waterfall is that you view it from the suspension bridge. There is also a really nice walk around the region through the rice fields and through the gorge to the base of the falls.
Read the full blog post here: GOROGOTAKI WATERFALL NEAR KUMAMOTO
Found on the border between Oita and Kumamoto, Nabegataki Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls on the island of Kyushu in Japan. With hundreds of waterfalls on Kyushu, what makes this one so special? You can actually walk behind the wide cascade, underneath the rock face that the waterfalls pour down over. It’s a pretty magical spot.
I did my best to shoot the waterfall without any tourists but it is quite difficult as most people do a little lap underneath the waterfall viewing it from in front, each side, and behind. It’s a bit of experience and going behind the waterfall was super cool. The waterfall itself is only 10m high but spans 20m across in width and pours down over the ledge, which is what makes it so unique.
Read the full blog post here: NABEGATAKI FALLS IN KYUSHU
Hidden in the foothills on the way to Mount Aso region on the way from Kumamoto is Shiraitono Falls. It isn’t a hike or a big adventure and you can actually just drive and park only fifty meters away from the waterfall. The golden light was hitting the waterfall in the late afternoon, which created an epic little scene where everything was in shade except for the golden stream of water flowing down.
What are my favorite pieces of gear for waterfall adventures?
There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a waterfall adventure. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my waterfall adventure essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack: Waterfalls get wet and wild so having this ultralight dry sack for cameras, phones and valuables means you don’t have to hold back!
- PackTowl Quick-Dry Towel: A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
- GoPro Hero 10: The best and easiest way to capture your underwater and snorkeling adventures.
This is a bit of a strange one because the access was limited due to construction going on. There is usually a viewing point but I’m not sure if it will still be closed or not. We managed to fly the drone to still check out the waterfall but normally you can view it from the platform. Nevertheless, it was one of the most powerful waterfalls I came across on Kyushu Island.
The journey to Onbara Falls is a very, very short trek but will remove you from the town of Beppu and immerse you in the jungle making you feel lost beneath the falls. Onbara Falls is a bit of a hidden gem just outside the town of Beppu in Oita Prefecture of Kyushu, Japan. Beppu is one of the most famous Onsen towns in Japan and even the world. However, amidst all of the hot springs and Onsens are some truly epic waterfalls and Onbara Falls is up there with the most beautiful and most accessible.
The trail is short and well-defined with a dirt/rock path leading you up to the falls. With the morning sun shining through it was actually a beautiful little walk, which is only about 2km return.
Read the full blog post for details: ONBARA FALLS IN KYUSHU, JAPAN
HIGASHI SHIIYA FALLS
Higashi Shiiya Falls is a pretty epic waterfall just out of Beppu Town. When you arrive you will park in the parking lot of the information center and pay your entrance/parking fee and then make the 800m along the river and through the gorge to reach the waterfall. It’s a really pretty walk and I can’t imagine how scenic it would be with the fall colors. At the end of the gorge is a massive waterfall flowing into a giant circular pool.
TAKACHIHO GORGE WATERFALL (Minainotaki Waterfall)
Takachiho Gorge is one of the most incredible natural attractions on Kyushu Island, Japan. In the forest of Miyazaki, the Gokase River runs through a gorge comprised of volcanic basalt columns where the 17-meter high Minainotaki Waterfall pours down on the awe-struck tourists below who are paddling the iconic rowboats through the narrow chasm.
Kyushu Island is beautiful in the summer and the fall, which are the most popular times for tourists. In the fall you get the beautiful tinged orange and different colors on the trees and in the summer you are blessed with the best weather. I visited in the winter, which was not the prettiest time as lots of the leaves were dead so there were plenty of sparse trees. However, Takachiho Gorge was at a lower elevation and in a spot that was still beautiful and green in the winter. The conclusion is pretty much that it is a year-round attraction, which will only differ slightly at various times throughout the year.
TAKACHIHO GORGE DAY TOUR
As I said above, Takachiho Gorge is a bit hard to get to with public transport so unless you have rented a car, the best way to get there is on the Takachiho Gorge Day Tour. The tour includes drop-off and pickup from your hotel, an English-speaking guide for while you are at the gorge. Helen the guide is an absolute legend and we loved this tour and this epic location.
CLICK HERE to check rates and availability for the Takachiho Gorge Day Tour
Yaesono Falls is a sweet little roadside waterfall, which you will find on the way to the Mount Karakuni hike in Kirishima. It’s probably not worth an adventure all on its own because you just park next to the road and check it out without needing to hike. However, if you are heading up to the Kirishima mountains for a hike it is only a small detour and is quite a nice waterfall surrounded by trees.
If you are staying near Kirishima then Ryumon Falls is definitely a spot I would recommend. It isn’t too far from Kirishima town and is a pretty epic waterfall. There is a small parking lot and then you walk about 500 meters to the viewing platform. You can go down closer to the base of the falls as well but it was a stormy, misty day when I visited and I was the only one there. I decided to just enjoy the view from the platform and snapped a photo from right there.
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Inukai Falls was probably my favorite waterfall that I visited while based in Kirishima. It was a booming waterfall but I really loved the gorge that led up to the falls, which was lined by woodland and forest giving it a Pacific Northwest vibe. I actually had to wait a while here for the fog to clear enough to see the falls but when it cleared a little, I was able to record a little video on the drone to show you just how epic this gorge is.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the best waterfalls in Kysuhu and have some great adventures of your own.
KINZAN BRIDGE WATERFALL
While the Kinzan Bridge waterfall is the biggest falls on Kyushu Island, it is a pretty unique little spot. The bridge is actually a serviceable road I used several times while exploring Kirishima and you can get down to river level for photos. I did take this shot from the drone as I floated it under the bridge while a meter or so above the water. There’s a small trail along the side of the river but parking is right next to the bridge so it is a good little pit stop but not the highlight of the day with Ryumon, Sekinoo and Inukai the bigger waterfalls in the area.
Sekinoo is a pretty popular waterfall that has a suspension bridge viewing point. I visited it on the same day as Ryumon, Inukai, and the Kinzan Bridge so they are all within reaching distance of each other. This waterfall has a short walk down a forest path, which leads you to the suspension bridge where you can get up close enough to feel a bit of spray on a day with a heavy flow!
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.
- 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 within walking distance to shops and restaurants.
- Best 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
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
- 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