This week I’m featuring a photograph of Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls taken by Nick Kembel from the Spiritual Travels Blog.
Nick is a professional travel writer and photographer living in Taiwan for the last 10 years.
He has been to 50 countries, but consider himself a “retired backpacker”, spending much of his time at home with his two kids.
Photo Story: Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls
This picture is a cliché…
It’s Japan’s highest waterfall, people always shoot it with the same orange shrine in the foreground, and you can see it on postcards and travel posters across Japan.
But that didn’t make getting there and taking the photo any less meaningful for me.
133-meter Nachi Falls is located in the wild and remote Kii Peninsula south of Osaka and Nagoya, home of the Kumano Kodo, a network of ancient, UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimages trails connecting a number of sacred sites in the region.
Many pilgrims end their journey at Kumano Nachi Taisha, the mountaintop Shinto-Buddhist temple complex that overlooks the waterfall.
I didn’t walk the entire pilgrimage, choosing instead to bus between the major sights and spend more time exploring the areas around each of them.
I visited all three Kumano Sanzan, finishing just like pilgrims do at Nachi Waterfall.
Because I was visiting Japan in winter (you can see the snow and ice accumulated at the bottom of the waterfall in my shot), as I always prefer to travel in the shoulder or off-season, there were hardly any other tourists visiting the temple while I was there.
Winter is as well a perfect time to visit Jigokudani Monkey Park to observe snow monkeys playing in the hot tub.
And when I was hopping up and down from different temple steps and decorative stones to get the perfect vantage point for the photograph, there wasn’t another soul in sight; I had this view entirely to myself the whole time I was there.
To be able to enjoy this level of intimacy with a sight possessing such fame, grandeur and natural beauty is the pinnacle of travel for me. It’s why I go, my raison d’être, and the breaths I take while I’m there, immersed and taking in the magnificence of it all, are what I recall for years to come.
Japan is a country with has so much more to offer than beautiful temples, here is a list of 10 best experiences to try in Japan.
Kumano Nachi Taisha is a Shinto shrine and part of the UNESCO-designated World HeritageSacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range of Japan.
The Kumano Kodō route connects it to other sites under the same classification, which are primarily located in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan.
The four sites on the route, classified as pilgrimage destinations and World Heritage Sites, are: Nachi Taisha; Hongū Taisha; Hayatama Taisha; Koya-san.
Kumano Nachi Taisha is also one of the three sacred Kumano Sanzan shrines.
Kumano Sanzan is a term referring to a set of three Grand Shrines located in the southeastern part of the Kii Mountain Range: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha.
Nachi Falls in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, is one of the best-known waterfalls in Japan. With a drop of 133 meters it is the country’s tallest water fall with single uninterrupted drop; however, the tallest waterfalls with multiple drops in Japan are Hannoki Falls, at 497 m, and Shomyo Falls, at 350m.
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