VIDEO: Exploring Okinawa: Trekking to terrific Tataki Waterfall

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

VIDEO: Exploring Okinawa: Trekking to terrific Tataki Waterfall

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Japan

For adventurous minds on the island of Okinawa, Tataki Waterfall in Ogimi Village is worth a visit.

Getting there requires a fun and challenging trek with plenty of twists and turns. I set out to visit one late autumn day when I’d grown tired of long days of seclusion while working from home. Since it was no longer beach weather, I chose this hike and location instead of heading to the coast. Plus, I am not a huge fan of water activities.

From Camp Foster, I made the 1.5-hour drive to the northern part of the island. The parking lot for the waterfall was well-maintained and looked more like a parking space for a theme park. This gave me the perception that the trek to the waterfall would be nice and easy— boy, was I wrong!

I headed out on the trail and soon had arrived downstream from the Henan river. From here, the signpost indicated, it would be another 30 minutes to reach Tataki.

The riverbanks are narrow, so I found myself literally walking through the river. The current wasn’t fast at first, and I stopped a few times to admire the relaxing sounds of the water and the fish swimming by.

Halfway through, I reached a pond with deep green water. A stream splashed down hard at the far end of the pond, a sample of what was waiting at the end of this hike.

As I’d mentioned before about not being a fan of water activities, the irony was that this trek forced me deeper into the water. I couldn’t find a detour to stay dry, so into the water I went. Soon, the level of water reached my chest and then I was swimming a breaststroke toward a log up ahead.

I reached the log, and I crawled upon it like a bug. When I managed to get to the top, I was absolutely soaked to the skin. So was my backpack.

I looked beyond this small setback and saw huge rocks dotting the river with fast-flowing water. For me, this was a challenge straight out of American Gladiators. This was no longer the easy trek I had assumed I was undertaking.

Even though I was already tired, I carried on. My sneakers had decent grip, which were a great help in avoiding tripping and another soaking.

A few minutes later, the route leveled, and I reached the tall rock wall with two vertical streams of water connecting at the bottom of the basin. Tataki, some say, means two waterfalls.

According to Ogimi Village, Tataki is just above 10 meters high. Still, up close the waterfall seemed no less magnificent than Hiji Falls, the biggest waterfall in Okinawa with a height of 25.7 meters, which I visited about a year ago. Lost in the wonderful sight, I kept gazing in wonder, not noticing that the splashing water got me soaked to the skin once again.

On my way back, I took the same route as I did on my way to the waterfall. And once again, I got in the water and swam to get past that pond. It wasn’t until after that I learned of a route that would have kept me and my backpack dry.

According to Ogimi Village’s Tourism Association, the water level of Henan River doesn’t change a lot from one season to another, but rain will have an impact, for sure. You would need to watch out for an increase in water after rain or during the rainy season. Sometimes the weather can change quickly, trapping trekkers in the middle of the river.

If you plan to visit, take some precaution ahead of your trip and know you will most likely get wet, so bring a swimsuit or trunks. The office managing the waterfall recommends brining a lifejacket or wetsuit, which might be a good idea for young children. Don’t miss Tataki for a splashing fun time!


Tataki Waterfall

GPS Coordinates: N 26.636986, E 128.092952 (parking lot)

Hours: 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.)

Parking fees: 500 yen (approx. $4.85) for up to 2 hours. An additional fee of 50 yen will be charged every 30 minutes beyond that.

*It takes roughly 30 minutes to get to Tataki waterfall.

*Water shoes are available for rental (500 yen per pair)

*Watch out for sudden increase in water level, which often happens at the site after a heavy rain. Several times in the past, visitors have had to receive emergency assistance due elevated water levels.

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