Rural Kitakyushu: Sevenfold Waterfalls Part 1

The Nanae Falls (七の滝—Nanae no Taki) are a series of waterfalls that feed a creek that flows into the Masubuchi Reservoir. The name translates as “seven stage falls” or “sevenfold waterfalls,” based on the fact that there are at least seven distinct waterfalls in series in this creek. This is the first two parts to this entry. I’ve split it because there are so many photos.

If you’ve been reading this series of posts for the last week or so, you’ll know that I just won’t shut up about a bicycle trip I took on April 30th. If you haven’t yet read the earlier posts, you can find them here: Introduction, Part 1: Snakes, Part 2: Not A Temple, Part 3: Frogs, Part 4: Farming Grannies, Part 5: Reservoir Mobs, and Part 6: Dammed Rivers.

In order to see the falls, I had to lock up my bike and climb up through the woods on foot. Just before the first stage was one of the ubiquitous red bridges—a small one—across the creek. Here’s a picture. The whitish streak in the middle of the background is the first stage of the falls. In contrast to its surroundings, the bridge is level.

photo of red bridge leading to first stage falls

And here’s what the first stage of the falls (一の滝, ichi no taki) looks like. The tall section is about ten metres high.

photo of first stage falls

After that, I had trouble keeping track of which falls were which. There were signs posted at each one to indicate their number but I only took pictures of the watefalls without the identifying signs. In hindsight, this seems to have been a bad move.

The hike was difficult in places, with ropes or chains to assist with the climb up and down near-vertical stretches of rock. The path was sometimes barely visible. Perhaps it’s a test whereby only die-hard hikers and climbers are considered worthy of viewing the entire falls.

In fact, after a short and deceptively easy path up from the first stage of the falls is a rock face that’s almost vertical, with a long chain for climbing assistance. Here are a couple of shots of some people on the way down. On the way up I saw many people turn around and give up when faced with this. Ditto on my way down when I was taking a second round pictures of the bridge.

close-up photo of people climbing down the steep rocks towards the first stage falls

I sat and waited for about five minutes while the little girl and her grandma made their way down. The mom was slightly faster. In this image you can see the entire context: rocks, climbing chain, people, and surrounding landscape:

photo of people climbing down the steep rocks towards the first stage falls, showing the context

One good thing about the difficulty of the trail was that there were very few people, and there was very little litter. Everything seemed more genuinely natural—as opposed the planned, hacked, tamed, and sculpted nature that is more common in this country—considering that this is a tourist spot. That is, things were natural aside from the fluorescent yellow paint on some of the trees to mark the trail, and the frequent signs begging everyone not to litter. I may have become jaded by the sanitized “nature” of the major tourist attractions, but this place was refreshingly rough.

Leaving aside thoughts about Japanese interventions in nature, here are some more photos of the various falls. This first one isn’t one of the magic seven of the Nanae Falls. It’s simply an anonymous rock face near the stream of the Nanae falls, that I passed on the way up.

rock face waterfall on the way to the upper stages of the Nanae Falls

This is the third waterfall (三の滝, san no taki):

Nanae Falls: third stage

I took this one in a narrow channel just beyond the third stage:

water flowing over rocks, above the third stage of Nanae Falls

Here’s number five (五の滝, go no taki). Five waterfalls. AH! AH! AH! If only The Count had been with me, he’d have had a blast.

Nanae Falls: fifth stage

Though I wonder what he’d have thought of the chains. Here’s the second of two chains. It’s only about three metres long, but there’s no reasonable way around these rocks.

another chain for scaling a rock face

Tomorrow I’ll finish up with four views of the final stage, plus some bonus pictures.

[The next post in this series is Rural Kitakyushu: Sevenfold Waterfalls Part 2]