Winter Waterfall Wonders at Odake Falls
Tokyo contains some rather noteworthy waterfalls including the Hossawa Falls which are included in the One Hundred Waterfalls of Japan. While at the Odake Falls 大岳滝 are around half the height of the Hossawa Falls they are no less impressive and given their seclusion means more of a chance to enjoy them in peace. The original plan was to drop by the nearby Odake Limestone Cave on route but unfortunately it was closed. This particular cave was discovered in 1961 and to this day remains with the same family. Although the gentleman who first uncovered it passed away a few years ago his spritely 99 year old wife continues to keep the operation running.
From the cave the waterfall is a further 1.2 kilometres up the road with the last 300 metres veering off a hiking trail. Being winter most of surrounding foliage had died off providing a good opportunity to capture the 30 metre cascade. Here it is possible to hop off the bridge, cross the river and clamber up to the plunge pool. While not yet frozen evidence of hardened ice was clearly visible on the steep-sided gorge walls.
Another cave I wanted to locate was the now closed Yozawa Limestone Cave which required backtracking, passing the Kamiyozawa bus stop and making a short 500 metre hike along the trail towards Mt. Hinodeyama. Evidently once more I was out of luck as last summer the boarded up homestead finally met its fate and lay forlornly as a sorry pile of twisted metal and timber. It’s not clear when the Yozawa Cave was discovered but shut up shop back in 2000 due to a lack of visitors. Eyeing some photos from its heyday looked like a cool spot to visit with chains and ladders guiding you into its spelunking chambers. The last cave in the area I didn’t have the chance to check out was the Mitsugo Limestone Cave which is shut during the winter months.
Access: take a 30 minute bus ride from Musashi-Itsukaichi Station (bus stop 1) and get off at the Odake Shonudo Iriguchi bus stop (480 yen).