Japan’s great fall foliage spots: Akame 48 Waterfalls

It’s that time of year again, yet it’ll be over before you know it. Yes, tis the season for fall foliage in Japan.

Living in Kansai, most people flock to Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple or Kifune Shrine. And while these spots don’t disappoint, there are some alternatives if you’re looking to avoid the crowds amid (the aftermath of?) coronavirus.

Recently I hiked Mt. Hiei in Northern Kyoto for some fresh air and foliage. Offering stunning views of both Kyoto and Shiga, as well as the historic Enryakuji Temple, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Today I’d like to introduce another great spot to enjoy those gorgeous Momiji.

Akame 48 Waterfalls

Known historically as a training ground for ninjas, Akame 48 Waterfalls is a riverside trail in a forested valley with lots of waterfalls.

The name of the location comes from an old legend. Thousands of years ago a Japanese mystic said he’d seen a fire god riding a bull with red eyes. Akame 赤目 means red eyes.

While there aren’t actually 48 waterfalls, there are a lot, with 23 distinct falls listed on the area map.

How to get to Akame 48 Waterfalls?

From Osaka’s Umeda Station, it’s easiest to take the Kintetsu Line to Akameguchi Station and then take a bus to Akame Falls. The journey takes about 2 hours and costs around 2,750 yen.

Having finally received my Japanese drivers license, I rented a car and drove an hour and a half to Akame.

What to do and see at Akame 48 Waterfalls?

Arriving in Akame after driving along winding country roads, we followed the foot traffic towards our destination.

Source: Mujo

Along the way you’ll find some food stalls selling a variety of goods like oden, karaage, yakiimo, and yakidango. We tried out all of the above!

Source: Mujo

Source: Mujo

After walking about 5 minutes and enjoying some snacks, you’ll arrive at the entrance.

Source: Mujo

While many natural destinations in Japan are free, Akame 48 Falls charges a fee to preserve the environment and keep the trail safe. Entering the mountain costs 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children.

There was also a special illumination event which will be held every evening from 16:30-20:00 until the end of January 2022. Tickets for the illumination cost 600 yen, so if you want to climb the mountain and stick around for the pretty lights, it’s a good deal.

Having paid the entrance fee, you’ll walk through a funny little salamander museum before reaching the start of the trail.

The trail starts off easy and is relatively flat. You’ll see children and elderly alike enjoying the scenery.

There were even a few well-dressed couples and women in high heels. However, you’re better off wearing comfortable clothes for walking as the trail can get wet and slippery at times.

It feels like there’s a different waterfall every few minutes!

Source: Mujo

Source: Mujo

Nunobiki Falls is a great spot to take a break and soak up the negative ions. There’s even a little rest house serving light foods.

It’s also a great photo spot because if you continue along the trail you’ll come out on top of the falls. So leave a photographer behind to take advantage of the illusion!

Source: Mujo

According to the area map, hiking the whole trail takes about 90 minutes one-way. We started walking along the trail around 3 pm, which turned out to be a bit too late. Being a forested valley, the sun disappears quite early and frequent announcements warn visitors to return before the sun sets so we headed back by 4pm.

We waited around for the illumination to begin at 16:30, but it ended up still being a bit too light. As such my photo’s didn’t turn out so great so I’ll share some better shots from online instead.

It started to get pretty chilly as the sun set so we headed back to the area with food stalls and rested a bit before a warm firepit before heading home.

Source: Mujo

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of Akame’s charm, so if you find yourself in the area and want to find a quiet place, make a trip there. It’s well worth your time!

By - Mujo.