If you were invited to go see a waterfall, would you reply enthusiastically, “Yeah, that sounds awesome!”? Or would your response be more measured, like, “A waterfall? Sure, okay.”
Whether you’re someone who is absolutely crazy about waterfalls or someone who has no opinion about them whatsoever, Totsukawa Village has a waterfall you will love: Sasa Falls, which is at the end of a little road outside the village.
A lot of waterfalls in Japan are viewed from a distance, but not Sasa Falls. You can’t really see this waterfall from the parking lot. To get to it you have to pass through rugged cliffs, past trees whose creeping branches look as if they are growing into them. As you wind around huge rocks covered in moss as thick as grass, it feels like passing through the world of the movie Princess Mononoke.
After a little while, you’ll come to a chain stretching through a narrow space between the cliff face and some fallen rocks. You’ll feel like you’re on an adventure as you use the chains to guide yourself through the hole to the other side.
Once you emerge from the hole, Sasa Falls will appear right before your eyes. This splendid waterfall plunges 32 meters into the pool below, and the clear stream of water crashing down vigorously is wonderfully picturesque.
There are no handrails or fences around Sasa Falls, so it feels untouched by humans. If you carefully climb across the rocks that jut out over the river, you can even look up at the waterfall from over the water. Closing your eyes and listening to the rush of the water will calm your heart and cleanse your spirit.
“There are tons of waterfalls in Totsukawa, but I think this one is the best,” said Kin’ichi Sako, chairman of the Totsukawa Village Cultural Association and amateur photographer. Many people know him as “Kin-chan.”
Kin-chan was born and raised in Totsukawa Village, and after attending elementary, junior high, and high school here, he worked at the local Post Office until retirement. The one month he spent in Kyoto for training was the longest he’d ever spent away from Totsukawa Village.
Nowadays Kin-chan lives a carefree life, touring around on one of his motorcycles--of which he has four--and practicing his life-long hobby of photography. The Photography Club in Totsukawa Village has nine members, including Kin-chan, who go around town taking pictures. They go to the waterfalls around the village multiple times per year, so they know a lot about them.
“The best season for Sasa Falls is autumn. Every year around the second week of November, the fall leaves are gorgeous. When the light hits the leaves, they turn bright red. It only happens in a short window in the afternoon, so all the photographers aim to catch that time.”
We don’t really recommend you bring a camera to Sasa Falls, but you can enjoy it in other ways. Using the chains like a lifeline, you can climb the stones to get close to the pool, and if you’re brave, and wearing non-slip shoes, you can use the chains to go even farther, right up to the thundering falls. Of course, if you slip, you’ll fall right into the pool, so be careful. But if you make it all the way without getting washed away, you’ll have an awesome adventure.
After visiting Sasa Falls and seeing how amazing it was, we asked Kin-chan what his three favorite waterfalls were in Totsukawa Village.
He said there are some great, picturesque waterfalls in the village, like Taka Falls and Jūni Falls. Of course, it’s also fun to take a look at all the waterfalls and find out which ones you like the most. Then, if you happen to bump into Kin-chan, feel free to say hello. He might even show you some of his works!