Fujinomiya in the Shizuoka prefecture is, as the name suggests, located very close to the legendary Mt. Fuji. Many hikers and tourists alike stop at Fujinomiya to get excellent views of the gorgeous mountain, or to try the famed Fujinomiya yakisoba, a unique variation of the popular fried noodle dish. But Fujinomiya does more than just offer stunning views of Japan’s tallest mountain, there are also plenty of natural hotspots for nature lovers to enjoy in the area.
Both the Shiraito and Otodome Falls are part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the two located just a brief 5 minute walk from each other. The falls are directly fed by the meltwater of Mt. Fuji, and are revered for both their natural beauty and their religious and historical significance.
The Shiraito Falls, a stunning 150 meter wide group of waterfalls that tumble from a height of 20 meters, are listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites along with Mt. Fuji, and are protected as Japanese Natural Monuments. The falling water of the falls resembles a shimmering silk screen, which is where their name derives from. The pool at the base of the falls is a lovely, blue-green hue that is very striking to behold. It is believed that the ascetic Hasegawa Kakugyo, founder of the Fujiko sect of Shinto which is dedicated to climbing Mt. Fuji as a religious experience, trained in the waters at the base of the falls. As such, these falls were and still are a famous pilgrimage stop.
Mt. Fuji can be viewed from an overlook above the Shiraito falls on a clear, sunny day, though it is not always easily seen. You can hike the area around the falls to discover small stone monuments near pools of water.
Though less wide, the nearby Otodome (meaning “stop sound”) Falls cascade down from a height of 25 meters, and can be observed from raised view points along a path. These falls are mentioned in the legend of the Soga brothers, two samurai brothers who were plotting to avenge their father, and distracted by the roaring sound of the cascading water, prayed for the falls to be silenced so they could hear one another as they discussed their plans. The falls suddenly ceased to make any noise, and were thus given their name.
The path leading up to both of these fall locations provides a pleasant walkway amongst rivers, trees, and copious amounts of souvenir stands, cafes, and dessert shops. Ice cream is an especially popular treat in the area, and you can try both classic and more inventive variations. Stop by one of the many souvenir shops for trinkets featuring both Mt Fuji and the falls.