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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Fukugawa Falls"

Fukugawa Falls


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Fukugawa Falls

     GPS
     LatitudeLongitude
     N 26 36.325E 128 03.420





Fukugawa Falls


Maybe one of the most beautiful places on Okinawa, this waterfall lies in the very remote part of Nago City. It is probably one of the least known waterfalls on Okinawa, but its beauty may surpass that of its elder siblings. You might consider this the baby sister of waterfalls. When you arrive, you will be mesmerized as soon as you step on the gravel trail. Beautiful tall ferns along the Nago landscape blanket the tree line. The adjacent stream flows quietly and gently over the river bed. And at last, there she is...flowing perfectly and harmoniously down the earth as if she was nestled in the arms of mother nature. She is immaculate in as many ways and yet by her humble stature, commands much respect. She is Fukugawa Falls.

Click the above photo album to see more photos of Fukugawa, Or click here.

Author's Note: No where is it written on how to conduct oneself when you arrive. But as a humble suggestion if you are going for the first time, I recommend going with a sense of humility and quietness as if you were entering a shrine. Part of the beauty of Fukugawa is listening and allowing the nature to speak to you; the soft wind, the swaying trees, and the sound of dripping water. Go as you please, but leave no trace behind – not even what would seem like a harmless etched inscription of a 'Jane and John Doe Were Here' at the wooded pavilion. This is a place where families and love ones, both foreigners and Okinawans, can enjoy the serenity and peace of the Ryukyu spirit together. Be modest in your conduct. Gauge the atmosphere. Loud noise may not be advisable at times since this can be a place of meditation for some.

Family Accessibility. Fukugawa is ideal for families and is something that all families should see together since this will be one moment they will treasure together. The trail is about a 15 minute walk, on mostly gravel and dirt. There are some places where you have to watch your step and may have to guide little children by hand (mainly when on the steps). There is one little area you have to cross that may get your shoes wet. On a normal day it should be about inch or so deep. Always be on the lookout for spider webs.

Getting to the Top. There is a trail that can take you to the top. It does not start at the base of the waterfall however. The trail starts from highest point the log steps reach – so you may have to backtrack if you are already at the waterfall. This picture shows portion of the trail branching from the steps (it is to the right). CAUTION: CLIMBING NOT RECOMMENDED FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. There are some areas where you can trip, fall, and tumble down if you have poor coordination skills. Once you are on top, use EXTREME CAUTION when approaching near the edge of the waterfall. The rocks are very slippery with little to grip. If you get too close and slip, you will have nothing to grab onto. You will fall...all the way down. Fukugawa is beautiful, but respect it and respect your limits.

The 'Tarzan Rope'. There is a small 'Tarzan Rope' to the left facing the waterfall but by the looks of it, it does not look sturdy enough to hold someone of average adult weight. Highly discourage any adults to use it. Use good judgment with your kids. The end result could be a broken tree in the pool of water.

Getting there. Study the map carefully and study the designated landmarks. Once you are on the blue route, go at a moderate safe speed so as not to pass any landmarks. There are two simple ways you can get to this waterfall. If you are familiar with the Haneji Dam/Highway 18 route, you can approach the starting point of the blue designated route from the southeast or you can come from Highway 58. Again depending on what direction you are coming from, look for these landmarks that are identified on the map; Statue of boy (turn-off on the 58), Radio Tower (Start of the Blue Route), Utaki at T-intersection (last major turn-off to the waterfall), Stone Marker (Halfway point to the waterfall). Near the end of the blue route you will approach a awkward T-intersection. Make a right here and about 20 meters to the left look for this chained off trail. This is where your trail starts. The sign says no vehicles allowed. You will have to park somewhere off to the side.

Hunting Season Advisement: CAUTION LEVEL: VERY LOW. Though not often known, Okinawa does have a hunting season (November 15-February 15).  You won't see any hunters near any public places, nor this waterfall. They usually go deep in the Nago Mountains away from any kind of population. This advisement  is for those who may wish to venture off later in the Nago Mountains after visiting Fukugawa. Only qualified and trained personnel are allowed to have such a hunter's license. It is mainly to hunt pest such as wild boar or other animals that have a negative effect on the land, crops, and other wildlife. Should you decide to go on a vehicle excursion in the Nago Mountains just be advised. They will be wearing bright orange, and sometimes organized in groups. There should be little to worry about if you stay on the blue route and known public areas, such as this waterfall.  Don't be surprised during this time though if you hear a shotgun go off in the distance. The Nago Mountains echo loud noises in this area.

Other waterfalls of Okinawa (沖 縄 滝).
Azaka Falls, Hira Falls, Meoto Falls, Ogimi Waterfall, Taa Waterfall, Todoroki Waterfall, Nameless Waterfall (Fukugawa II), Kijoka Falls, Nameless Waterfall (Kunigami Village).