The Wonderful Waterfalls at the Foot of Mount Fuji
Shiraito Falls are located at the foot of the south-western side of Mount Fuji, in Fujinomiya City. Their magnificent and delicate silk-like white strands are registered in the UNESCO World Heritage within 25 notable sites around Fuji-san. The legend surrounding their origins make them one of the most popular sites of Shizuoka prefecture.
In addition to their inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage, Shiraito Falls were also listed in prominent rankings at national level:
- As one of the beautiful One Hundred Waterfalls of Japan,
- As a "Place of Scenic Beauty" by the Japanese government, and,
- Are part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
All are well-deserved distinctions for this landscape, that is impressive and unique, with a 150 meters width and a 20 meters height, and is up for discovery.
A unique geology shaped by the sacred volcano
What first strikes the most is the absence of a river and therefore of a visible source when arriving on site. Actually, Shiraito Falls’ water supply comes from underground. Old eruptions of Mount Fuji 🗻 have covered the land with a permeable layer of lava that allowed water to flow underneath. However, the water could not completely permeate the soil due to a lower clay layer and ended up flowing to the open air, resulting in the beautiful waterfalls of Shiraito.
The large amount of water is supplied by the rain ☔️ falling on the sacred mountain all year round, as well as the snow melting from its top in summer. It is said that it takes from 10 to 300 years for the water to flow down from Fuji-san to Shiraito. In any case, one can only verify the very good quality of the water: it is fresh and pristine, and is safe for drinking.
The continual show of the water flowing is mesmerizing. On the left, a bigger fall 🍁 flows into a natural pool, whereas on the right, water drips down along high rock walls covered in moss.
When the weather is sunny, beautiful rainbows appear amidst the falls. This place with a unique geology is certainly fascinating.
A weave of white silk yarn
The Japanese name shiraito (白糸) means "white threads." According to the Shinto legend related to the waterfall, the threads have been weaved by the goddess of Mount Fuji herself: princess Konohana-no-Sakuya. It is the perfect image indeed as one really feels like looking at long and beautiful white silk strands springing from the mountain, as if by magic.
During the Edo period (1603 -1868), Shiraito Falls were a training site for pilgrim monks, who bathed in its water to try their endurance to the cold. Afterwards, when attempting to climb Mount Fuji, they would better adapt to the temperature drop as they neared the summit. This practice is also performed in Fuji Hongu Sengen Taisha shrine, located a little bit further down, towards Fujinomiya downtown.
Access to Shiraito Falls and Otodome Falls
The main access to the foot of Shiraito Falls is by a small parking area on the side of the road, encompassing the Shiraito-no-taki bus stop and a handful of shops open in the summertime.
A secondary entrance located a bit further up the road gives an access to the Falls by their top. Nearby, from another parking lot, an observation platform offers a birds’ eye view on the waterfall, with the Mount Fuji in the background.
These two accesses are connected together by stairs and create a visit itinerary with several viewpoints, allowing to get as close as possible to the water and to feel its power and coolness. The close by Otodome Falls may be not as beautiful but they are nonetheless impressive.