Chuzenji-ko and Kegon Waterfall

Around this time two years ago we had a weekend trip away in Nikko, where some of our plans were hindered by typhoon which we didn’t know was coming. Striking overnight, our rickety hostel out in the woods felt like it was about to blow down at any minute, and the morning after we had to scale back our plans as many of the roads were inaccessible due to fallen trees.

With the impending typhoon season on us again, we returned to the same rickety hostel to try to complete our previous itinerary and visit some of the waterfalls around Nikko which were said to be beautiful.

Around 40 minutes by bus from Nikko station, we headed along winding roads up into the surrounding mountains. Our destination was Chuzenji Lake, from which a five minute walk would take us to the tallest waterfall in the area, Kegon-no-taki. Ascending into the clouds, we noticed halfway up the mountain a ropeway cable car; we didn’t know it existed, where it went or what was at the top, but we felt that it was probably worth a shot and alighted.

This was the Akechidaira Ropeway, which took us to a beautiful observation deck giving sensational views of the lake and the waterfall.

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Descending back to take the bus again, after another 10 minutes we reached the waterfall. I don’t know how many waterfalls around the world require access by lift, but this was definitely the first one I’d been to! A free viewing platform was provided at the top for the skinflints, but if you wanted to get a view from the bottom up you needed to pay the entry fee and descend 100m below ground level.

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Being all waterfalled out, we spent a gorgeous afternoon by the similarly beautiful Chuzenji Lake. Picked as a place to have summer houses by many European ambassadors in the 19th Century, the lake was set against a backdrop of mountains (I found it very reminiscent of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala). These days, you can rent a swan pedalo to admire the view from the middle (we didn’t) or wander around the outside to find a place to have an ice cream (we did). A most beautiful place.

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