Refresh your spirit along one of Japan’s greatest hiking trails – a pristine forest that’s home to ninja culture and giant salamanders
Akame 48 Waterfalls is a gorgeous 4-kilometer-long (2.5-mile) hiking trail located in Akame, Nabari City, Mie Prefecture. There are 5 main waterfalls, and a number of other smaller ones along the route. The Japanese characters for ‘48’ in the name simply mean ‘many’ in this instance, and do not indicate the real number of cataracts around the path, which are actually even more numerous. The trail runs through a steep ravine, and is cool and refreshing in the summer. Seasonal changes attract large numbers of photography enthusiasts, and the area’s autumn foliage is especially spectacular in early- to mid-November. Some brave camera-toting hikers visit in the winter, to capture the beauty of frozen falls.
A number of special events take place throughout the year, including religious rituals and lighting illuminations in the summer. The region is steeped in the history of the ninja - mercenary covert agents that were engaged in intelligence activities during the 15th to 18th centuries. When this area was part of a state called Iga, ninja used the ravine for training and meditation activities. Today, you can rent a ninja costume and explore the trail while on a Ninja Training Experience!
The pristine rivers and falls are also home to rare giant salamanders (Andrias japonicus) - the largest amphibian in the world. They are a protected species, and designated as a special national monument. Truly gigantic, these creatures can reach lengths of 1.8 meters (6 feet) and live more than 50 years. If you’re lucky, you can see them in the rivers between spring and autumn while exploring the trail. A visit to the Japan Salamander Center offers a close-up view of these fascinating creatures.
The Five Main Waterfalls
Fudo Falls: Located at the 230-meter mark, about 6 minutes from the start of the trail. 15 meters high, 7 meters wide, and 10 meters deep, and named after Fudo Myō, the God of Fire. A bridge over the ravine at this site offers a fantastic view.
Senju Falls: Located at the 800-meter mark, about 20 minutes from the start. 15 meters high, 4 meters wide, 20 meters deep. ‘Senju’ means 1,000 hands and describes the appearance of the falls. The shape of the water, rocks and trees make this spot especially beautiful.
Nunobiki Falls: 900 meters and about 23 minutes from the beginning of the trail. 30 meters high, 30 meters deep. The name describes the shape of a strip of cloth, and the depth of the pool shows the power of flowing water to cut through solid rock over time.
Ninai Falls: 2,200 meters and about 70 minutes from the start, 8 meters high. The water flows around a large boulder, giving the falls the appearance of a water creature carrying the rock on its shoulder. From a spot at an elevation above the falls, you can see a slightly smaller flow just above the main split waterfall - this is regarded as one of the most scenic views in the entire area.
Biwa Falls: 2,870 meters and about 80 minutes from the start, 15 meters high and 10 meters deep. Appearing like a bathtub made of rocks, this striking indigo blue basin is named after the shape of the biwa, an ancient Japanese string instrument.
861-1 Akame-cho Nagasaka, Nabari City, Mie Prefecture
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (April to November) 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM (December to March)
Adults: 500 yen Children (age 15 and under): 250 yen
Take the Kintetsu-Osaka line to Akameguchi station (赤目口), then take a bus to the entrance of the falls, Akamedaki (赤目滝). Taxis from the station are also available: 1,500yen - 2,000yen
Akame 48 Waterfalls = 赤目四十八滝