A visit to Akame 48 Waterfalls Bamboo Lantern Illumination 2020

“What a serene environment lightened up by the bright yellow light creating a daylight environment up the hills from a distance,” my wife said. Just a few more steps towards the illuminating light source, an eye-catching view of illumination beauty around the footpath and next to a silently flowing river becomes real.

Akame 48 Waterfalls Bamboo Lantern Illumination 2020

A weekend getaway to Akame Valley

Our weekend getaway to Akame 48 Waterfalls started on a sunny afternoon just in time to catch up with the evening illumination. When one speaks about waterfalls, the first thing that comes to mind is the hilly environment, cliffs, and flowing water. Yes, that is right, and we’re in the right place, Japan. Japan's terrain is almost 77% mountainous. Akame 48 waterfalls is a string of waterfalls flowing down the mountainous regions in Mie prefecture. The exact location is in Akame-Cho, Nabari Mie Prefecture. The place is easily accessible by train and by road. The location is suitably situated between major cities around Mie that is Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka (Map below).

Our transit time to Akame took about an hour since we live in Tsu City, Mie prefecture. After a short rest, as we wait for the darkness to chip in, we started our illumination experience by visiting Akame Natural History Museum to have a short glimpse of what to expect in the woods. Inside the museum, we saw the decorated bamboo stems put to display. The bamboo stems were drilled in different patterns to provide a candle-like glow when lit up. With various crafted patterns on display, the illuminating light in one of the tents stole the show, ensuring us a clear perception of what to expect from the beautiful mother nature up in the hills of Akame.

Bamboo lanterns and lamps
Bamboo lanterns on display

One step outside the museum, the cold wind at such altitude reminded us that it was no longer autumn; winter just started. However, we came prepared to embrace the cold and have fun to the fullest. The entrance to the illumination area was around 5 minutes walk from the museum. On our way down the narrow paths, we realized the detailing of the well-crafted bamboo lanterns laid along the path. The lantern glow was clear enough, creating an atmosphere of bright natural beauty and blending so well with the woods creeping darkness.

Bamboo lamps along the path

As we walked along the well-lit footpath, the yellow glowing light became brighter and brighter. At this moment, the illumination site was just a corner away. At the illumination park entrance stood a brightly illuminating bamboo lantern that lightened our faces, creating a perfect spot to capture the moments with the illumination site right behind us. “What a beautiful view,” I exhaled while adjusting my camera to capture all the details crafted on the bamboo lanterns as they allow the yellow beams of light to illuminate the open area, creating a spectacular natural atmosphere.

Photo spot at Akame Valley Bamboo Lantern Illumination
A famous photo junction at the main entrance

The main illumination area had a wide range of bamboo lantern illumination lamps inside a small valley with water flowing between them. As we walked along the path next to the valley, we saw all the carvings‘ details, each unique in different ways. The crafting was a job well done, and we imagined how dedicated the artist was when carving the bamboo stems. A couple of the designs caught our eyes. One was the tent-like setup with a sphere-shaped lantern hanging in the middle of the tent, and the other had kanji characters carved from the top downwards. All these tiny details were made conspicuous by the illumination effect. Right ahead along the path stood two identical bamboo lanterns shadowed by a bright blue light, marking the main hiking trail entrance and a gate to the spectacular Akame 48 Waterfalls.

Bamboo lantern illumination
Illumination trail along the central illumination valley
Bamboo lantern illumination
Impressive carvings on the bamboo lanterns creating fantastic illumination
Detailed design and kanji characters on bamboo tubes
Different detailing patterns and kanji characters in the illumination area

Seeing the illuminated waterfall made us want to come back the next day

At the end of the illumination trail, there was this magnificent view of the Fudo Falls, one of the five significant falls at Akame 48 Waterfalls. The sound of the water falling off the cliff created a calm environment with the misty atmosphere created by water falling into the pond below. The waterfall was illuminated by a blue light coming from one side of the pond. To get a good view of the waterfall, we had to climb a spiral stair of about 20 steps to a wooden bridge connecting to the hiking trail used to spot the other strings of waterfalls. Since this was our first time at Akame 48 Waterfalls, seeing the illuminated waterfall made us come the following day to get the waterfall's daylight view, and it was breathtaking. What a spectacular view.

Fudo Falls day and night
Fudo Falls
In front of Fudo Falls
The next morning. In front of Fudo Falls

Despite the chilly weather and the late evening cold, our trip to experience the bamboo lantern illumination was worth it. Picturing the delightful experience we have explained in this piece of writing, one might ask, why not hold the illumination events during summer when the hills are all warmed up? We thought as much and reached out to Mr. Yamashita, who works for the tourism division of Nabari City, with the question, “Why not summertime?” Without hesitating, he answered, “Well, we cannot hold the illumination events in summer because Japan is prone to typhoons and storms during the summer season. Autumn to winter is the best time.” Since we have been in Japan for some time now, this was very true.

To sum it all up, it was a clear display of how environmentally sustainable items can create a beautiful blend with nature and how creativity in craftsmanship can create such magnificent scenery in the illumination industry. Our recommendation to all illumination enthusiasts is, “Add this amazing place (Akame 48 Waterfalls, Bamboo Lantern Illuminations) to your bucket list.”

Akame 48 Waterfalls Bamboo Lantern Illumination
October 24th, 2020 - January 31st, 2021
4:30 pm - 8:00pm
Main venue: Akame 48 Waterfalls (between the entrance and Fudo falls)
Entrance fees: ¥600/adult, ¥300/elementary & middle schooler, free/pre-schooler
Access: A 10-minute bus ride from Kintetsu Akameguchi station. Take the Kintetsu-Osaka line to Akameguchi station (赤目口)
Parking: Available (paid)
Related blog posts:
Sneak Preview: Bamboo Lantern Illumination at Akame 48 Waterfalls by Akiko Hayashi
Crafting Bamboo Lanterns for the Waterfall Illumination by Mineko