A place to escape the heat of the city or a chance to walk through some pleasant scenery, the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls makes a memorable trip. Although a distance from Tokyo they are an easy side trip during a stay on the Izu Peninsula. We visited on a wet Monday in November and even then the area was extremely pretty and scenery unforgettable.
The falls are reached by bus from Kawazu or Shuzenji stations (one or two buses per hour) or there is parking at both ends of the trail at Nana-daru visitors centre and Mizutare.
The walk along the falls is only about two kilometres in length, but the section between Nana-daru visitors centre and Shokei-daru falls is the only flat part, for those with disabilities or pushing buggies. After that the trail follows open staircases of dizzying heights and a wobbly suspension bridge. Although most people walk from Mizutare downstream to Nana-daru, it is not unreasonable to walk both directions.
The waterfalls from Mizutare walking downstream are Kama-daru, Ebi-daru, Hebi-daru, Shokei-daru, Kani-daru, Deai-daru and Oh-daru. They have been cut into volcanic rock and in many places columns of lava are clearly visible. The water splashes and rattles down the valley, hurtling over highest shoots like Kama-daru and Oh-daru (closed when we visited), and twisting and cascading through rocks and crevasses the rest of the way. The river is lined with trees, which dapple the light and shade the path.
There is a bus stop and large car park at Nana-daru as well as a number of cafes, teahouses, souvenir shops and an outdoor onsen. The paved and easy walking path then runs along side the river through the trees past Kani-daru until you reach Shokei-daru.
On the way you pass statues from the story “Izu no Odoriko” (The Izu Dancer) by Kawabata Yasunari, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1968 and some winsome little deities who sit by the path. You will also pass a wishing rock, a large block of stone on the edge of the river with a tied rope on top. A nearby sign explains the ritual of wishing here involving throwing three stones on to the rock with the hope that one at least remains there.
After the Shokei-daru the path continues up a steep staircase, recently renovated and carefully maintained. An impressive suspension bridge, Kawazu Odoriko Takimi Bridge joins Hebi-daru and Ebi-daru, and the path climbs yet further to the high Kama-daru falls, thundering down through the trees and surrounded by warped basalt columns of rock.
Located further upstream from Kama-daru, and up another set of steps is Saruta-depth. This deep cut into the rock was formed when the Kawazu River sliced through the lava of the Noboriominami volcano, which formed the Seven Falls. A little further takes you to Mizutare, where there is parking, and a bus stop.
The path is well signposted in Japanese and English and there are maps and information boards along the way explaining how the falls were created, some of the myths about the places and the geological history of the area.
The Seven Waterfalls walk described here is part of a longer hike called the Odoriko Trail, which is 18.5km from Joren Falls to Yugano, walking along the setting of the novel “The Izu Dancer”.