Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Totsukawa – Japan’s Biggest Village and the Hidden Gems

Totsukawa Village (十津川村), the biggest village in Japan, is located in the southernmost part of Nara Prefecture. It is blessed with beautiful scenery. To its north is the Tanize Suspension Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Japan. Sasano Falls, located in the middle of the village, is one of the Top 100 Waterfalls in the country. In the south, the Dorokyō Valley can be found. It is one of the National Places of Scenery Beauty (特別名勝)!

In addition to the three most amazing spots we just mentioned, there are numerous natural attractions that you must see. Here is a list!

Photo from Totsukawa Village

Explore Totsukawa Village With a Guided Tour

If you prefer to be guided when you visit Totsukawa Village, consider booking one of the below tours!

How to Get to Totsukawa Village by Public Transport

Due to the limited number of bus services, driving is the easiest way to explore Totsukawa Village. If that is not an option for you, plan with the transportation information below. Note the service only operates on weekends and public holidays.

Nara Kōtsū’s (奈良交通) 301 limited express (特急301) Yagishingū Line (八木新宮線) bound for Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉) is the service that connects you with many of the attractions in Totsukawa Village. You can catch the service from the below stations.

  • Kintetsu Yamatoyagi Station (大和八木駅)
  • Kintetsu Takadashi Station (高田市駅)
  • JR Gojō Station (五条駅)
  • JR Shingū Station (新宮駅)

From Osaka, board the Kintetsu (近鉄) train from Osaka-Namba Station (大阪難波駅) to get to Kintetsu Yamatoyagi Station (大和八木駅).

HERE is the timetable for your reference. You can translate the page using the translation function on the right of Google Chrome’s address bar.

We will include further details of where to get off for each attraction below.

Tips: Consider getting Yagishingū Line’s 168 Hike Bus Ticket (168バスハイク乗車券(八木新宮線)) if you are coming from Yamatoyagi Station, Takadashi Station, Gojō Station or JR Shingū Station. The one-way ticket lasts for 2 days. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English with the translation function on the right of Google Chrome’s address bar.

Tanize Suspension Bridge (谷瀬の吊り橋)

Do you know where the longest suspension bridge in Japan is? That is right, in Yoshino District, Nara! It is a great spot to stop by on the way back to Kansai from Kōyasan.

The 297 meters long bridge connecting Tanize (谷瀬) and Uenoji (上野地) was built in 1954. Before the Tanize Suspension Bridge was completed, a simple wooden bridge was above the Totsukawa River (十津川), and it was washed away every time a flood occurred.

Ⓒ Totsukawa Village

The people in Tanize, needing a strong and reliable bridge for their essential activities, eventually decided to contribute around 200 to 300 thousand yen per household to build a suspension bridge. Combined with the support from the local government, 8 million yen was spent on the construction.

The amount of money may sound like nothing today, but it was a lot back then when 10 kg of rice cost 765 yen. Thanks to their contribution, we tourists can enjoy the magnificent view of the Totsukawa River that can only be seen on the Tanize Suspension Bridge (*´ω`).

Things to Note about Tanize Suspension Bridge

Just one thing before you head out, a bridge this long and tall (54 meters) isn’t for the faint-hearted. Those afraid of heights typically can’t make it more than 10 meters on the bridge.

Important: For your safety, only 10 people can be on the bridge at any time.

To view the bridge from afar, like in the photo, you can hike to the Moriyama Observation Deck (森山展望台). It will take around 90 minutes for a return trip.

How to Get to Tanize Suspension Bridge by Public Transport

  • Take Nara Kōtsū’s (奈良交通) limited express 301 (特急301) Yagishingū Line (八木新宮線) bound for Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉) and get off at Uenoji (上野地). From Yamatoyagi Station, the bus trip will
    • take around 3 – 3.5 hours
    • cost 2,500 yen for a one-way trip

Click HERE for a list of attractions in Totsukawa Village.

Sasano Falls (笹の滝)

Ⓒ 十津川村役場

Sasano Falls, upstream of Taki River (滝川), flows through Totsukawa Village and is one of the Top 100 Waterfalls in Japan.

This magnificent waterfall, with a height of 32 meters, is located near a motor road covered by forest, easily accessed by car.

The waterfall is a popular destination for autumn foliage hunting. It is just a 10-minute trek through the earthen road from the car park.

From the car park, you will see this obvious promenade entrance to Sasano Falls in the photo below. The trail is covered with moss and fallen leaves, poetically blending into the surrounding nature.


As you walk further, you will reach this marvellous giant rock. Follow the handrail to proceed further.


Important: Please don’t try to climb it because it is slippery.


After walking past the giant rock, Sasano Falls will be in front of you in no time! The photo to the left is of the stream flowing from the waterfall basin.

You can trek closer to the waterfall if you wish, but the road will get harder to walk on. So avoid stepping on any part of the surface covered with moss.

Things to Note about Sasano Falls

  • The road to Sasano Falls is quite narrow, making it difficult to fit two cars at once.
  • The road’s surface can be slippery when wet, especially with the fallen leaves in late autumn. So if you are the driver, while the scenery along the road is going to be stunning, try your best to pay attention to driving.
  • There are many curves along the motorway, so be sure to get an experienced driver.
  • Come with at least sneakers, if not trekking/hiking shoes. The promenade to Sasano Taki Falls is slowly collapsing due to the power of nature.
  • Try to cover your skin as much as possible to lower the chance of bug bites.

How to Get to Sasano Falls

  • If you are driving, the car park at the entrance of the promenade has a capacity of 20 cars.
  • From Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉), take the National Highway Line (Kokudō-sen, 国道線) and get off at Kazeya Hanazono (風屋花園).
    • From the bus stop, it will be a 2-hour trek to Sasano Falls.
    • Refer to HERE and click ” 国道線時刻表” for the timetable for the service.

Click HERE for a list of attractions in Totsukawa Village.

Yaen (野猿)

Around a 30-minute walk from Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉), cross the river with a human-powered ropeway called Yaen. It is a rare chance for you to experience this kind of ropeway that can hardly be found anywhere in the world!

Ⓒ 十津川村役場

Before a proper bridge was built, this ropeway was an essential part of the transportation mode for the villagers’ daily life. As the ropeway resembles a monkey traveling down a tree vine, it was named Yaen, which literally means wild monkey (=゚ω゚)ノ.

So, who is going to power the ropeway? The answer is yourself, which is probably why it is free for anyone to use (´▽`*). The person inside the roadway will need to pull the two ropes. It can be tiring but certainly fun!

Where to Board and How to Get to Yaen

To board this exciting ropeway, please head to Totsukawa Onsen Hotel Subaru (十津川温泉 ホテル昴). The ropeway is on the ground of the hotel.

There is also another Yaen close to Yanagimoto Bridge (柳本橋). Please check with the hotel staff about the exact location.

  • Taking Nara Kōtsū’s (奈良交通) limited express 301 (特急301) Yagishingū Line (八木新宮線) bound for Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉), get off at Hotel Subaru (ホテル昴). From Yamatoyagi Station, the bus trip will
    • take around 4.5 – 5 hours
    • cost 3,500 yen
  • If you plan to drive, please park at the Hotel Subaru.

World Heritage Kumano Kodō Kohechi Route: Hatenashi Settelment (世界遺産 熊野古道小辺路: 果無集落)

Ⓒ 十津川村役場

On one of the six main routes of the World Heritage Kumano Kodō, the Hatenashi-tōge Pass (果無峠), there is a small colony that is known as the Town of the Sky (天空の郷). At an altitude of around 500 meters, the Hatenashi Settlement or Colony is known for its panoramic view overlooking the surrounding mountains and for preserving the aesthetic of old Japanese villages.

From Hotel Subaru (ホテル昴), it is around a 60-minute walk.

Driving? You can park your car in the small parking lot at the colony. Parts of the road are narrow, making it hard for two cars to pass in one go.

If you aren’t staying overnight at Totsukawa Onsen, the bus stop closest to the trailhead is Warabio (蕨尾). Otherwise, from Hotel Subaru (ホテル昴), follow the motorway that leads to a red bridge to cross the river. Remember to turn right into the smaller road at the intersection after crossing the bridge. You should soon see the map of the Kohechi Route (小辺路ウォーキングマップ).

From there, the trailhead should be on your left in around 5 minutes. Along the road, there are clear road signs with English underneath Japanese. So there is no need to worry about getting lost.

Following the small road next to this World Heritage stone monument, you will soon arrive at the Town of the Sky.


During Your Time at Hatenashi Settlement

If you come to Hatenashi Settlement from mid-September to October, you might see harvested rice ears hanging on the ceiling of houses. Drying rice this way makes it more delicious and nutritious (=゚ω゚)ノ.


When visiting the colony, you will be walking between private properties. So please do not enter people’s properties, and remain civil.

If you happen to walk past this veranda, it is open to visitors. Opposite the veranda, there is a water fountain. The water is drinkable, so don’t hesitate to taste the delectable mountain stream!

Trekking the World Heritage Route: Hatenashi Settlement to Kumano Hongū Taisha

Want to trek all the way to the famous Kumano Hongū Taisha (which takes around 6 – 7 hours to complete from Totsukawa Onsen)? The mountain trail continues from Hatenashi Settlement with roadsigns placed on most interactions. Look for red tapes too, because the tapes form part of the roadsign.

HERE is the map of the entire journey from Totsukawa Onsen. If you want to know more about the Kohechi Route, refer to the official website HERE.

Tamaki Shrine (玉置神社)


Tamaki Shrine, buried deep in the mountains in Nara, is not just a world heritage. It is said that the shrine that has a solemn atmosphere can’t be reached if the god hasn’t agreed to your entry.

For more information, please refer to our article on Tamaki Shrine!

Mt. Tamaki Observatory (玉置山展望台)

From Tamaki Shrine’s torii gate at the car park, if you hike in another direction, you can reach Mt. Tamaki Observatory in around 15 minutes.

If the weather is good, you will be overlooking Dorokyō Valley, Kōyasan, and as far as Kumano-nada Sea (熊野灘)!

Ⓒ 十津川村役場

From April to November, the view of the sunrise from the observatory is really stunning. From late August to early December, you will get a high chance of seeing the sea of clouds in the early morning (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ⓒ 十津川村役場
Ⓒ 十津川村役場

Important: As the road leading to the observatory is really narrow and hard to drive on, it would be better to visit the observatory by taxi if you aren’t confident with driving and don’t plan to stay there for too long.

Futatsuno Dam (二津野ダム) and Jūni Falls (十二滝)

If you plan to drive, you can venture out to Jūni Falls, south of Totsukawa Onsen. Driving on National Highway no. 168 towards Wakayama Prefecture, the waterfall with a height of between 80 – 100 meters will suddenly appear on your right!

Stop by Futatsuno Dam on the way there for some magnificent views of the dam lake with the surrounding mountain ranges serving as backdrops. The autumn color there is particularly stunning. And you might be able to spot some Mandarin ducks if you are lucky.

Totsukawa Village has plenty of Castanopsis and oak that produce ample food for the migratory birds to enjoy on their way to escape the coldness from the north.

How to Get to Futatsuno Dam and Jūni Falls

  • If you are driving, there is no car park around Jūni Falls. So please park on the road shoulder.
  • Taking Nara Kōtsū’s (奈良交通) limited express 301 (特急301) Yagishingū Line (八木新宮線) bound for Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉), get off at Futatsuno (二津野). From Yamatoyagi Station, the bus trip will
    • take around 5 – 5.5 hours
    • cost between 3,500 to 4,000 yen
    • As the timetable is abbreviated, please use the below two stops as reference points.
      • Hongūtaisha-mae (本宮大社前)
      • Hotel Subaru (ホテル昴)
    • From the bus stop, it is a 15-minute walk to Jūni Falls and a 20-minute walk to Futatsuno Dam.
    • Please take into consideration that the number of bus services is limited.

21st Century Forest・Kii Peninsula Forest Botanical Park (21世紀の森・紀伊半島森林植物公園)

Ⓒ 十津川村役場

Rhododendron isn’t a popular flower that tourists would come to Japan for. However, if you are coming for the cherry blossom at Mt. Yoshino, stop by 21st Century Forest・Kii Peninsula Forest Botanical Park afterwards for the 120 kinds of rhododendrons gathered from around the world!

The rhododendrons’ flower season here is much longer than the cherry blossom season. From late April to late May, the park usually receives many visitors who adore the gorgeous flowers.

From the 3rd to the 5th of May, the annual Rhododendron Festival is held. Temporary stalls that sell local specialties will be there to look after your stomach.

In April 2020, a new outdoor recreation facility – Kūchū no Mura (空中の村), was opened with various obstacle courses for all age groups to challenge themselves!

For a visual idea of the courses, refer to the second page of the webpage HERE.

The facility in the forest is open from 9 am to 5 pm from March to November. The last admission is at 4 pm.

Ⓒ 十津川村役場
Ⓒ 十津川村役場

21st Century Forest・Kii Peninsula Forest Botanical Park’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
    • The last admission is taken at 4 pm.
    • It is closed on Tuesdays and from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.
  • The park is free of admission fee
  • To reach the park by public transport, take the Nara Kōtsū’s (奈良交通) limited express 301 (特急301) Yagishingū Line (八木新宮線) bound for Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉), and get off at Yakuba-mae (役場前) or Totsukawa Onsen (十津川温泉). From Yamatoyagi Station, the bus trip will
    • Take around 4 hours
    • Cost between 2,500 to 3,450 yen
  • Then from Yakube-mae, take Dorokacchō Line (瀞八丁線) and get off at Shinrin Shokubutsu Kōen-kuchi (森林植物公園口).
    • Refer to HERE and click “瀞八丁線・大野線時刻表” for the timetable. Note the service is extremely limited.

As a side note for reading the timetable, “土(曜日)” means Saturday. “日(曜日)” means Sunday. “祝日” means public holidays. “運休” means it will not operate and “運行” means will operate.

Dorokyō Gorge (瀞峡)


Dorokyō Gorge (瀞峡), located in the south of Totsukawa Village, is one of the National Places of Scenery Beauty (特別名勝). The picturesque valley remains a hidden gem to most. So if you enjoy various outdoor activities, Dorokyō can be the ideal destination to stop by when you visit the Kansai region!

For more information, please refer to our article on Dorokyō Valley (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Discover Other Amazing Places to Visit in the Wider Yoshino District

Do you yearn for more natural beauty in this part of Nara Prefecture? Discover more astonishing places in the wider Yoshino District where Totsukawa Village resides with our Yoshino District article!

Click the photo to find out more about this stunning spot!

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