Kegon Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan and an absolute must-see if you’re in the Nikko area. The towering falls plunging straight down a sheer rock face into a pool surrounded by lush foliage is an impressive sight. This guide has all the info you need to plan a visit to Kegon Falls.
Kegon Falls is truly breathtaking, so it’s no wonder that it has been named one of Japan’s “3 most beautiful waterfalls”.
For the record, the other two “most beautiful waterfalls” in Japan are Nachi Falls at the end of the Kumano Kodo trail (we’ve been and can agree it’s stunning!) and Fukuroda Falls in Ibaraki prefecture (which is on our Japan bucket list).
Located just outside the city of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, Kegon Waterfall (Kegon no Taki falls in Japanese) is by far the most famous of the region’s whopping 48 waterfalls.
Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why.
Situated at the east edge of Lake Chuzenji, water pours straight down a cliff 97 meters (318 feet), creating a powerful cascade that will quite literally take your breath away.
So if Kegon Waterfall is on your Japan bucket list (spoiler alert: it should be!), keep reading for all the deets you need to plan the perfect visit.
Psst! We have a list of must-see landmarks in Japan that’s sure to give you some inspiration for your itinerary!
Kegon Falls Travel Guide
For more tips and advice for visiting the falls, jump to the following sections (or just keep scrolling to see it all!).
- Kegon Falls stats
- Best time to visit
- Best viewpoints
- How to get to Kegon Falls
- Where to eat
- Where to stay
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Kegon Falls at a glance
From how much it costs to the exact location, here are all the important stats about Kegon Falls.
There is a free viewpoint from which you can see this magnificent falls at no cost.
However, the more impressive viewpoint can only be accessed by taking an elevator down nearly 100 meters.
There is a fee for this elevator which brings you to the lower viewpoint:
- ¥570 per adult (under $4 USD)
- ¥340 children 5 – 13 years old (children under 5 years old are free)
While the free viewpoint is always open, the elevator can only be accessed during business hours.
The elevator is open year round, but the hours vary slightly:
- March – November: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- December – February: 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Kegon Waterfall is 318 feet tall (97 meters).
Kegon Falls is located just outside of Nikko city, on the east side of Lake Chūzenji.
From the center of Nikko city, the falls are roughly a 40-minute drive.
Good to know: The road getting here is one-way, so you will take a different road on your return route.
Want to know how to get there? We’ve got directions here!
Facilities at Kegon Falls
Near the entrance, there are a few small cafes and a public restroom.
There’s also a small Shinto shrine.
Best time to visit Kegon Falls
Kegon Falls is worthy of your itinerary no matter what time of year you’re visiting Japan.
We personally visited in the fall (November 6, 2023). We’ve seen stunning photos of the cascade with fall foliage, so we were hoping that there’d still be lots of leaves, but they were mostly gone by the time we arrived, even though the trees were just beginning to change color in town.
Good to know: Kegon Falls and Lake Chuzenji are at a much higher elevation than Nikko town, so the foliage turns much earlier than at lower elevation.
We’ve heard that the winter is quite beautiful too, as sections freeze over, creating a unique icicle-like look.
Things to know about visiting Kegon Falls
Be prepared for crowds. This is a popular spot for tour buses, so you will be sharing this view with others. Be patient and kind.
If you’re self-driving, know that the road getting here is one way. It is very windy and narrow (but Ben says “fun to drive!”). You’ll have to take a different road on the way back. It takes a fair amount of time to get here from Nikko town, so plan accordingly.
You don’t need a ton of time here. Even when there are lines, they tend to move relatively quickly and the elevator is fast. You can see the views from different platforms, but you can’t get out of the fenced area so there’s not much more you can do here. We spent about 30 minutes here in total, from parking to getting back to the lot.
Best viewpoints & photo spots
There are essentially 3 viewpoints of Kegon Falls:
There is a free upper observation deck from which you can see the waterfall from above and a bit further away than the lower deck.
Pay a fee (570 yen) to take an elevator down 100 meters for a more impressive view than you can get from above.
Akechidaira Observatory viewpoint
Get a truly impressive view of Kegon Falls as well as Lake Chuzenji (its water source) by taking the Akechidaira ropeway.
The ropeway takes just 2 minutes to bring you from the parking lot to the viewpoint and costs 1,000 yen per person for a roundtrip.
Our honest opinion: While the view is stunning, there tends to be a long line for this activity. I personally wouldn’t wait any more than 30 minutes in line for this because it is just a quick experience and there are other amazing things to see in the area.
How to get to Kegon Falls
Once you’re in Nikko, it is pretty straightforward to get to Kegon Falls.
Drive west of town roughly 40 minutes.
This lot is the closest place to park near the falls. It costs ¥320 (cash only), but most other lots in the area cost roughly the same, so you might as well get as close as possible!
If you’re considering driving, be sure to read our guide to renting a car in Japan. It’s packed with things you need to know before you get behind the wheel, as well as insider tips to help you feel confident on the road.
If you’ve taken public transportation to get to Nikko, it is easy to get to Kegon Falls from the city center.
From Tobu Nikko station, buses run to Chuzenji Onsen every 30 minutes. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs ¥1,250 (about $8.50 USD).
Good to know: This bus ride is covered by the Nikko All Area Pass.
From the Chuzenji Onsen bus terminal, it is a short walk to get to Kegon Falls.
Kegon Falls FAQs
Still have questions about visiting Kegon Falls? We’ve got answers!
Can I visit Kegon Falls as a day trip from Tokyo?
Yes, it is possible to visit Kegon Waterfall as a day trip from Tokyo.
Nikko is roughly 2 hours by train from Tokyo or 2.5 hours by car. From Nikko city, you will need to drive an additional 40 minutes by car (50 minutes by bus) to get to Kegon Falls.
There are also a number of guided tours from Tokyo you can take to Kegon Falls and other sights around Nikko.
How tall is Kegon Falls?
Kegon Falls towers at 318 feet, or 97 meters.
Do I need a car to get to Kegon Falls?
No, you don’t need a car.
While it can be nice to have the freedom of driving yourself so you’re on your own timeline, there are buses that leave from the center of Nikko every 30 minutes and drop you off not far from Kegon Falls.
Read more about how to get there by jumping to this section.
Is it worth visiting?
It is popular, yes, but for good reason.
Remember, it has been named one of the 3 most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. While we can’t say for certain that it lives up to this name (we haven’t seen all 518 named waterfalls in Japan, after all!), it sure is stunning and worth a visit if you’re including Nikko on your Japan itinerary.
More things to do in Nikko
- Wander the Kanmangafuchi Abyss. This was our favorite thing we did in Nikko.
- Marvel at the iconic Toshogu Shrine.
- See Ryuzu Falls and Yudaki Falls, two waterfalls that are smaller and lesser-known than Kegon, but still worth a visit if you have the time.
- Try yuba, tofu skins that are famous from Nikko.
Where to eat nearby
This sushi restaurant is located very close to Kegon Falls and is excellent.
The smelt tempura from Lake Chuzenji is one of the top recommendations, and the rolls are a great choice too.
They are open 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. for dinner (reservations recommended for dinner).
Where to stay in Nikko
Budget: Nikko Stay House Arai
A Japanese-style room with tatami mats, Japanese futons, and free wifi in a guesthouse with shared bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, and patio. This stay has outstanding reviews and is just a 4-minute walk from the train station.
Mid-range: FU-SHA Cottage
Highly-rated private cottage 5-minute walk from Kanman-ga-fuchi Abyss and Tamozawa Imperial Villa. Guests enjoy tatami rooms separated by sliding doors and hosts offer pickup from Nikko Station.
Luxury: Kinugawa Onsen Hotel
Stunning riverfront hotel next to Kinugawa Gorge with indoor and outdoor onsens. Tatami and Western-style beds are available. Amenities include an onsite karaoke room, massage services, and free breakfast and dinner.
Are you planning a trip to Japan?
We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.
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- Autumn in Japan: Where & When to see Fall Foliage
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Have you seen Kegon Falls in person? What was your experience like? Do you still have questions about this waterfall or Japan in general? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer!