Hidden waterfalls on the northern side of Mt. Chokai.
Hidden away in the thick cedar and beech forests on the northern side of Mt. Chokai are the beautiful expansive falls of Mototaki. Fed year-round by the melting snow off Mt. Chokai, its frigid spring water emerges from deep beneath the ground and often shrouds the surrounding moss-covered valley in a deep mist.
Easily accessible and beautiful year-round, Mototaki is one of our top picks for those wishing to take in the natural beauty of this region and a prime attraction of the many natural wonders of the Mt. Chokai Geo Park of Akita Prefecture.
1-2 hours if you wish to take it slow and take in the beauty of the falls and forest.
Ushirogawa-74 Kisakatamachi Hongo, Nikaho-shi, Akita-ken 018-0152
Approximately a 50-minute drive from Sakata City.
It is an easy 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the falls.
Snow boots are recommended during the winter due to potentially heavy snow.
A rental car is highly recommended due to scarce public transportation in Nahako City. See rental car options here.
From January until February this waterfall sometimes completely freezes over due to sub-zero temperatures.
The Forest Trail
Mototaki is located in a dense cedar forest that features two different options for parking.
The first is a large, paved lot that makes parking for Mototaki very easy. The bathroom here is the only one in the area before entering the forest. Driving past this paved lot will lead to you to a dirt road where you can park in the forest itself. Note that the forest parking lot can be blocked by snow and only has a single lane road where you may encounter opposing traffic.
Whichever lot you park in will lead you on the same relaxing and scenic forest path. You can also walk right along a small crystal-clear river fed by Mototaki Falls right from the parking lot. The soft roar of the falls will become more and more audible as you approach the end of the forest trail.
After a brisk walk through the forest, you will finally come upon the beautiful display of Mototaki. These falls seemingly originate out of nowhere from the rocky hillside and enrich this area with crystal clear water.
These falls are actually comprised of spring water that melted 10-20 years ago off the peak of Mt. Chokai and flowed deep beneath the earth before finally emerging from a ridge created by volcanic activity over 20,000 years ago.
This is part of a much larger underwater network that spans hundreds of square miles around Mt. Chokai. It is because of the constant supply of water it has enabled such beautifully diverse and massive forests to thrive in this area.
Another prime feature of these falls is the abundance of thick moss that covers the waterfalls and surrounding rocks. This moss gets its moisture from the mist that the cold spring water forms when it comes into contact with the warm humid air during the summer. This moss coupled with the falls makes for a stunningly lush landscape to admire.
Mt. Chokai has been the location of pilgrimages for centuries. In fact, Mt. Chokai used to be one of the Dewa Sanzan, the three mountains of Dewa, which are worshipped by followers of an ancient Japanese mountain religion still being practiced today called Haguro Shugendo. Pilgrim lodges can still be found at the base of Mt. Chokai in Warabioka, however the mountain is rarely used for Shugendo training these days.
It’s thanks to this ancient religion that there are multiple trailheads to take up Mt. Chokai; Kisakata, Fukura, Nagasaka, Mansuke, Ni-no-taki, Yunodai, Momoyake, Sarukura, and Yashima for a total of nine. Below we will introduce the two most common routes, using the Kisakata and Fukura trailheads from the west, however the Yunodai trailhead from the southern side is also popular.
Mototaki is very easy to reach via car as it is in an area with wide and well-maintained roads. Here are the directions to the primary parking lot that we recommend you use.
Address: Ushirogawa-74 Kisakatamachi Hongo, Nikaho-shi, Akita-ken 018-0152