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 in 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.
HOW TO GET TO NABEGATAKI FALLS
Nabegataki Falls borders both Kumamoto and Oita regions. That means you might be visiting while you are based in Kumamoto or a town in Oita such as Beppu or Yufu. It’s not out of the question either to be visiting from Fukuoka. It really does sit in the middle of all three major towns. It’s actually quite accessible and one of the more touristy waterfalls on Kyushu Island. There is a road that leads the whole way and then a massive parking lot. There was a small fee, which gave you access to the whole geopark including lots of other attractions in the area but don’t worry it was only $3 USD. From the parking lot, there is a boardwalk and stairs that lead you down to the waterfall taking just five minutes. It’s not a big adventure and you could wear any attire and shoes and be just fine.
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MY EXPERIENCE AT NABEGATAKI FALLS
Nabegataki Falls is one of the more popular waterfalls on Kyushu Island so you should expect it to be a lot more built-up than most of the other natural spots in Kyushu. I didn’t expect it to be quite so touristy though with over fifty people there even on a weekday at 11 am (and I visited during the Coronavirus scare so travel was down a lot). I imagine this spot is very, very busy on weekends and during peak travel season so keep that in mind.
After paying the small fee of a few dollars for the entrance ticket, we headed down the boardwalk and stairs for just five minutes before reaching the waterfall area. 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.
I’d recommend a tripod if you are into photography as this waterfall looks great with a little motion blur. I shot handheld but at 1/15 so my images aren’t super sharp but I like the motion blur. I visited at 11 am and the light was just shooting over the top so I do suggest mid-morning for this location if you are interested in having golden lighting.
It’s pretty close to Mount Aso or Kurokawa Onsen so it could be smart to combine those attractions with a visit to Nabegataki Waterfall to make the most of the transit from the town you are visiting from.
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!
- Quick-Dry Towel: A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
- GoPro Hero 12: The best and easiest way to capture your underwater and snorkeling adventures.
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