Nachi Taisha – a World Heritage site
Nachi Taisha is one of the Kumano Sanzan (three sacred shrines), and both the shrine and the grounds are designated World Heritage sites. The shrine, consisting of six buildings at the top of 467 stone steps, is situated in the Nachi mountains at a height of approximately 500m. From the temple grounds, you can see Nachi Falls, which is a designated National Place of Scenic Beauty. The beautiful red-lacquer shrine also features Bird Rock (karasu-ishi), which is said to be the petrified form of Yatagarasu (a legendary raven), and the Sacred Camphor Tree (Okusu), which is 850 years old. In spring, the mountain cherry trees (yamazakura) bloom profusely, and the weeping cherry trees (shidare-zakura)are also magnificent. The Nachi-no-hi Matsuri Fire Festival takes place every year on July 14, when the god of the waterfalls is said to make an annual return to Hiro shrine (Nachi Falls). In this amazing religious spectacle, 12 portable shrines decorated with fans are purified by the flames of massive torches that weigh 50kg or more.
The spectacular Nachi Falls flow from the mountains of Kumano
In terms of hot springs, Nachi Taisha is famous for Katsuura Onsen, which is 10 to 20 minutes from Nachi Station by car. We recommend walking the 2.5km from Daimonzaka, which is a route along the Kumano Kodo route that takes in Nachi Taisha and Nachi Falls. From the entrance to Daimonzaka, you can walk to Kumano Nachi Taisha along the Kumano Kodo route, where you will find beautiful stone steps covered in moss and groves of cedar trees. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Nachi Taisha. It takes 15 minutes to walk to Nachi Falls from Taisha. Nachi Falls, which is the home of a deity that has long been an object of reverence, is well known as one Japan’s three great waterfalls. At a height of 133m, it is taller and has a greater volume of water than any other waterfall in Japan. The sight as it drops from the Kumano mountains is spectacular. On New Year’s Eve, an illumination event is held. On the right of the waterfall is the Nachi Primeval Forest, which is a dedicated National Natural Monument where you will find 60 more waterfalls.