After we appreciated how free and beautiful nature can be in Shirahama, we ventured across mainland Japan to Nachi Katsuura. My friend had just started working in the rural town, and it’s not something that would have been on our itinerary otherwise.
I’m here to tell you that it should be on yours.
Driving there was awesome–we got to see so many things along the way that we would have missed with another mode of transportation. Because we were driving from Wakayama, a good portion of the trek was along the shore. So the things we saw once again were free because they were natural. And they were stunning.
I heard a couple stories about the Hashigui-iwa rock formations. One told of gods placing the imposing, shattered stones where they are.
Another said the people of the region kept trying to build a bridge, but a sea monster surfaced after each attempt, destroying their work.
Geologically, this likely used to be all one rock face, and tsunamis destroyed it over time, shattering some of the rocks and moving others closer to the shore.
Whatever story you want to believe, it’s a really incredible thing to see.
The Tallest Waterfall in Japan
The tallest waterfall in Japan is located in Nachi Katsuura, and it’s a sight to behold. At its base is a shrine where locals can pay reverence and ask favors of the spirits living inside this natural wonder. We got there later in the day, but I also believe there are shrines as you work your way up the mountain. Across the top of the waterfall, there are boundary markers which are regularly replaced in Shinto fashion.
The waterfall itself is breathtaking, but the surrounding mountains add to the beauty. I may have cried in Shirahama, but my sibling held back tears in Nachi Katsuura. In that moment, taking in the gargantuan majesty of the mountains, I believed as the people of old that these edifices of nature’s sheer power held within them spirits that were older than time itself.
Sunrise in the Land of the Rising Sun
We were only in Nachi Katsuura for one night, but the next morning we rose early to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean–an experience I’ll never forget. The beach in the small town is gorgeous, with sand and stone steps and picnic areas along grassy outcrops.
When the sun breaks free of the horizon, it truly is red for a while–something I have seen nowhere else. Once it gets higher in the sky it turns more yellow and then white, but its first presentation is reflective of the country’s flag. If you’re on the East Coast of Japan, I’d highly encourage you to wake up early to witness the magnificence of Sol.
See More on Instagram
All of these fantastic experiences were free. And I’ll be sharing more images of them on Instagram over the next week. It was crazy beautiful, so be sure to follow along!