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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Akame 48 Waterfalls 赤目四十八滝

Remote waterfalls, bug-eyed monsters and ninja training grounds

The 48 waterfalls of Akame offer a unique mix of ninja excitement, mysterious trails, waterfalls and enormous amphibians.

Tips

  • Exploring this remote land where historical ninja honed their skills of stealth and combat
  • Hiking the beautiful trail to reach the many falls
  • A close encounter with a Japanese giant salamander, second largest in the world

Getting There

The falls are most easily reached by a train to Akameguchi Station on the Kintetsu Line, followed by a 10-minute bus ride.

The ride is just over an hour from Osaka-Namba Station, and about 90 minutes from Kyoto or Nagoya Stations.

When to go

Every season offers fantastic sights along the falls. Spring brings cherry blossoms, and autumn a dazzling array of colors. Summer's a verdant, if humid, paradise. Winter requires more care along the path, but you may be rewarded with frozen waterfalls if the weather’s sufficiently cold.

Hidden natural wonders

The remote and forested Akame Valley was a training ground for the Iga-ryu ninja between the 15th and 18th centuries. There are numerous waterfalls along a four-kilometer stretch of the valley accessible via a walkway along the river that provides up-close views. The waters pour into a gorge at the bottom of the valley at Muro Akame Aoyama National Park.

The name Akame, meaning “red eyes,” derives from a mythological encounter at the falls between En-no-gyoja, the founder of Japanese mountain asceticism, and Fudo-myo, a fierce esoteric Buddhist deity. There aren’t actually 48 falls; the number likely comes from the traditional number of vows taken by beings in the Buddhist pantheon known as bodhisattvas.

It takes three to four hours at a leisurely pace to fully take in the falls. There are restrooms and teahouses along the route. You'll also occasionally encounter stairs along the way; keep in mind that steel steps may be slippery when wet.

Also along the route is a campground with a barbeque area. The site is open from April 1 to November 30.

Akame's top five

Five of Akame’s waterfalls are particularly spectacular: Fudo, Senju, Nunobiki, Ninai, and Biwa Falls.

Fudo Falls, named after Arame’s Fudo-myo, features a bridge that spans the seven-meter wide cascade.

Senju is named for how the splashing water resembles the "thousand arms" of the merciful Buddhist deity Kannon.

Nunobiki is the highest waterfall at 30 meters, and over the millennia its force has eroded the stone below to form a pool 30 meters deep.

Ninai Falls is popular for its gorgeous view, and Biwa Falls is said to resemble a giant bathtub.

Take your time on your way in

At the entrance to the area, a ninja training school offers a course on the nearby mountain slopes for adults and children ages four and up. The program includes ninja costume rental, with a choice of colors ranging from traditional black to no-way-they-won't-see-you pink. The training lasts about 90 minutes and includes ninja star throwing, wall scaling, and rope traversing.

If you’re really feeling the stealthy spirit, you can also rent a ninja outfit to wear before setting out on your journey to the falls.

The nearby Japanese Salamander Center is a cozy little educational curiosity offering up-close looks at the Japanese giant salamander. It's the second-largest salamander species in the world, measuring up to 1.5 meters. Nowadays, the amphibian is considered near-threatened.

Still, keep an eye open near the riverbank during your hike. People still spot them in the wild from time to time, though this is less likely if you've opted for the pink ninja costume.

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