Gojo waterfall, Hidaka. When I first wrote this post in 2016 there was no information in English anywhere around the web. I looked up information in Japanese and it said that the falls are named after The five virtues of Confucius, which is written “gojou” or “gojyou” in English. But since then, the falls have received an official website of their own and the romaji they went with is “Gojo” so the Gojo Falls.
That is not the only change. Sometime in the last five years, they’ve started to charge to visit the waterfalls. Moreover, they’ve built a beautiful new entrance to the area. Furthermore, they’ve put in new shrines and red moon bridges. It looks more picturesque than ever! They have also built a car park, which was something that was lacking previously.
The original article about our visit:
On our most recent trip to Hidaka we stopped at the Gojo Waterfalls. A sign along the road piqued our curiosity so we took a detour to check them out. Coming from Hanno as you cross over the city border into Hidaka, just at that Seibu Ikebukuro Line Musashi Yokote station, is the almost miss-able turn for the Gojo Waterfall. If you are coming by train, you alight at this station and it is approximately a 30 minute walk sans kids, with them (depending on their age) it could possibly take more than double due to the steady incline of the 2 kilometer walk.
By car, the tricky part is parking. The nearest car park is quite a distance away. We actually drove quite close to the waterfall, but I definitely would not recommend that at all. We made a mistake as we did not realize just how narrow and dangerous the road was. Eventually we actually had to reverse back down the mountain. The car was not able to manage the steep incline as you near the waterfall. The incline at that part is at least 20%. But I would guess nearer 30% and our car literally conked out in defiance.
It was terrifying backing down an old narrow mountain road. We ended up parking in a verge on the side of the road much further down the hill. I am not even sure if it was an actual car spot. But it looked like it had been used for the same purpose before.
A manageable hike
The sign for the waterfall is posted to a tree, just as the road steepens severely. You come off the easy to walk and/or push an off-road buggy, to a beautiful hiking trail. I recommend you park the stroller at the verge on the other side of the road. You cross a make-shift bridge made from a fallen tree with wood slabs screwed on.
The waterfall is not far at all, so young kids can manage it, but they do need to be careful. There is a lot of moss on the ground and on the tree roots and stones. Furthermore, there is a sign to watch out for boar too and we saw a mamushi (poisonous snake) further down the road. Moreover, there are occasionally bears in the area too. It is not a huge waterfall and the trail back to the road is ridiculously short. But the beauty of the area was worth it for us and it was an easy trail for my kids who are 2 (this month), 4, 5 and 7 years old. We passed many families on our walk as well as a group of boy scouts.
The area of Hidaka is so rich in nature and a beautiful place to enjoy a scenic drive and even some hiking with children. Many years ago, my husband and I used to visit the area often on our way to Chichibu to escape the summer heat. We often stopped at a shrine with a preserved house that I never realised, until our visit last week, is the famous Koma shrine. To be honest, it is not a shrine I rank highly, but they do have great events and if you are in the area it might be worth a quick stop off. I do, however, recommend either walking or driving (on the way to/) from there to the truly magnificent Shoden-in Temple, which is much more aesthetic, especially in Autumn.
If you are visiting in September, the famous Kinchakuda Red Spider Lily Festival is on in the area: