Seven Falls is a short hike up magnificent Jakuchikyo Gorge that will bring you past 5 beautiful waterfalls, with smaller cascades at every turn.
First of all, props to Royce for hiking up this mountain! The first time we climbed this about a year ago, he hiked…some of it. Not this time! He made it all the way to the top where the tunnels are! We were very impressed by this 3½ year old!
Seven Falls vs Five Falls
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way: only in English is this place called “Seven Falls.” We only counted five, the lady at the convenience store in the campground said there are only five, and all the maps there show only five waterfalls. It was a mystery to us whether there were two more missing falls further up the trail or someone just thought “Seven” sounds better than “Five!”
As it turns out, Jakuchikyo Gorge most definitely has five waterfalls…but up the road, there is another river that has two more! Different river, but nearby. Mystery solved! Check out the map below to see the other two waterfalls!
This is a great hike! I did it both times carrying Jeannie on my back because it is not stroller friendly. There are a lot of stairs, but the trail is not super long – only about 330 meters, or less than a quarter-mile. It feels longer because of all the climbing. The climbing is worth it, though, because at almost every turn there is a new waterfall! Whether it is one of the five main waterfalls or the smaller plunging rapids in between the larger ones, the scenery is constantly changing and always beautiful.
The camping spots are plentiful. When you’re walking up to the path that leads to the falls you walk through a portion of the camping area. There are benches with tables, and raised platforms for tents. We have never camped here, but our camping at Yasaka Dam has always been easy working with ITT.
When you get to the parking lot there is a small store that sells local goods like fresh vegetables, drinks and ice cream. If you’re looking at the store, to the left are the bathrooms that are well kept.
The Hike – Five of the Seven Falls
Walk up the road to the right of the camp store, and you will go up a small climb before finding a ramp down to a footbridge. Cross the footbridge, and you won’t have any forks on the path until you are past all of the falls!
From the names of the falls, it sounds like they imagined the river to be one large dragon lying down in the gorge, with it’s head at the top and it’s tail snaking into the pool at the base of the mountain. Picture that as you hike the trail!
The first waterfall is Dragon Tail Falls, 龍頭の滝 or Ryuo-no taki (written “Ryubi” on the trail). It looks so smooth that it could be used as a waterslide if it weren’t so steep! It lands in a large pool that is nice for wading if you have water shoes: the floor of the pool has gritty bits of gravel that aren’t too kind to bare feet!
Next up is Ascending Dragon Falls, 龍門の滝 or Toryu-no taki. This is the best swimming spot of the hike! The pool is called “Deep Pool,” 大乗淵 or Daijo fuchi, for a reason! It is very deep, so the brave can double-check the water level, scale the rock wall on the side opposite the trail, and take the plunge! The water is very cold, but refreshing on a hot day. Make sure you don’t jump or swim alone!
The third fall is White Dragon Falls – 白龍の滝 or Hakuryu-no taki. It falls down a large, rounded slope into an inaccessible bowl before transitioning into Toryu. When hiking, look at the wall across from the trail and waterfall here – when the river is flowing fast after a storm, the water must shoot all the way over to that wall hard enough to break it down through all these years!
It’s as if the river knows you need a break from all the magnificence of the falls, so there are a series of bridges and rapids before you get to waterfall #4. A large spire of rock juts up from the mountain and blocks most of the view as you hike up. Look up to the right – there is a gap between the cliff and the rock spire, with a log trapped from a recent flood. There are some remnants of an old trail up there, enticing enough for Matt to cautiously climb up and get a glimpse of the old trail’s view!
Scale down the wall next to the path, peek your head around the corner and you are greeted with an up-close view of the tallest fall of the trail, Dragon Gate Falls! 龍門の滝, or Ryumon-no taki, is 18m/59 ft tall and blasts you in the face like cold dragon’s breath. Good luck keeping your camera dry, but if you can climb, definitely hop onto the small beach and get a glimpse.
The final fall provides a serene finale to the hike. Dragon Head Falls – 龍頭の滝, or Ryuto-no taki, is a double-tiered fall that makes a sharp left turn from one pool to the next. The first tier is graceful, thin and elegant, but the next begins the wild energy that builds into the next waterfall’s roar.
Finishing the hike
You’ll need to cautiously climb the trail with the assistance of bars and chains if you want to reach the top. It forks into two tunnels (watch your head, and mind that the drips don’t hit your electronics); the left takes you back to camp, while the right will take you for hours and hours toward a mountain peak! This is the end of Jakuchi Gorge, though. Congratulations if you make it this far!
Our first time here we hiked up the Jakuchi Gorge, then took the tunnel on the right and hiked for about another 30 minutes. We weren’t having any luck finding the other 2 falls so we turned around and hiked back down the way that we came. It was a pretty hike, but we felt like what we had come for was at the beginning.
When we got back to Toryu Falls, or “Ascending Dragon Falls,” Matt and a few of the friends we were with decided to jump in! It was a hot day but the water was nice and cold! Matt said he had no desire to jump in this trip, but it wasn’t nearly as hot and the water seemed colder. It looks like there are a few pools of water that you would be able to wade or swim in. Be cautious! We made sure that the pool was plenty deep before doing any jumping. The kids (as always) just enjoyed throwing rocks into the water!
Out of all of our hikes since we have been in Japan, this has been the place where we have noticed the most gnats or bugs that follow you incessantly! We were glad that we brought the bug spray this time, it really helped! The first time we were here I felt like we were constantly waving and swatting at the bugs.
Pro Tip: Bring bug spray!
Next time we go, we will visit the two remaining of the seven falls: Dog’s Return Falls, Inumodoshi-no taki or 犬戻の滝, and Dragon God Falls, or Ryujin-no taki 龍神の滝. We are looking forward to coming back!
How to get to Jakuchikyo Goryu and Seven Falls
If you have a fun car to drive, get ready for an entertaining ride! If you get carsick easily, make sure you sit in the front seat, take some dramamine or ginger ale, and prepare yourself for some curves. The road follows the river closely so there are a lot of windy turns. There is one part that is switchback after switchback. The views are amazing! There are tall cedars that are beautiful, and seem to go on forever as they tower over you.
It takes about 90 minutes to get there from Iwakuni. If jumping into the cold water doesn’t interest you, there is at least one onsen along the way where you can stop.
Have you seen all Seven Falls? Leave us a message and let us know what you thought!