Nachi Falls is one of the most sacred waterfalls in Japan as it has been worshiped as a holy dwelling place of the god since ancient times. With a height of 133 meters and a width of 13 meters, it is known as one of the three great waterfalls in Japan. Nachi Falls is also the country’s tallest falls in a single uninterrupted drop. It is part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2004.
The waterfalls are located deep in primeval forests in Nachi-Katsuura town, Wakayama prefecture on Kii Peninsula. The southwestern part of the peninsula holds three major sacred sites that are connected by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto. The region became established as the major sacred sites around the 11th or 12th century.
Kumano Nachi Taisha, a Shinto shrine near the falls, was one of the main destinations of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes. Nachi Falls is the object of worship at Hiro-jinja Shrine, a subordinate shrine of Kumano Nachi Taisha. In other words, Nachi Falls is enshrined as the deity of Hiro-jinja Shrine. A 26-meter sacred white rope is stretched at the top of the waterfalls.
It is a magnificent view that the vermillion three-story pagoda stands in front of Nachi Falls. The pagoda belongs to Seigantoji Temple, which was spun off from Kumano Nachi Taisha. All of Nachi primeval forests, Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo and Seigantoji Temple are part of the World Heritage Site.
Nachi Falls is also called “Ichi no Taki” or “the first waterfall” because it is the largest among the 48 falls monks used for ascetic trainings in Mt. Nachi.
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