The Kawazu Seven Falls (河津七瀑 Kawazu nanadaru) are a series of waterfalls along Hontani River, a tributary of Kawazu River in the south of Izu Peninsula. The river carved its bed into spectacular formations of basalt rock that has been formed after volcanic eruptions some 25,000 years ago. Odaru Fall (大瀑), the highest of the seven, drops some thirty meters deep.

Odaru Fall (大瀑)

What does 'daru' mean?
In Japanese, waterfalls are usually denoted by the Chinese characters 滝 or 瀧, both read as taki (たき) in kun'yomi. 瀑 means "waterfall", too, a hyōgai kanji (表外漢字, non-standard character) read as both にわかあめ (niwakaame, "downpour") or たき (taki, "waterfall", "cascade"). We could not find out as to why waterfalls are referred to as daru in Kawazu and assume it is a local particularity.

The Izu-Tobu Volcano Group (伊豆東部火山群 Izu Tōbu Kazangun) is a cluster of over 100 monogenetic volcanoes (smaller volcanoes that only erupt once) located in the eastern parts of the Izu Peninsula and off-shore in Sagami Bay. One of these volcanoes, Noborio Minami (登り尾南), erupted 25,000 years ago and its lava flowed into the valley. When the surface and the bottom of the lava cooled off, it shrunk and created cracks that formed pillar-shaped rocks called columnar joints. These vertical joints can be seen in the vicinity of the waterfalls and form stunningly regular arrays of polygonal prisms.

Kani-daru (カニ瀑), the Crab Fall

A statue of Hotei adjacent to Kani-daru

The rock formations Hontani River has chiselled into the basalt are magnificent.

Shokei-daru (初景瀑)

Shokei-daru with a statue called 'Odoriko to Watashi' taken from Yasunari Kawabata's short story 'Izu no Odoriko' (伊豆の踊子, "The Izu Dancer").

Kawazu Odoriko Takimi Bridge (河津踊子滝見橋), a suspension bridge along the Kawazu Nanadaru Hiking Trail.

Kama-daru (釜瀑), the Cauldron Fall

Saruta Depth (猿田淵)

Saruta Depth is located upstream of Kamadaru and was formed by the Hontani River carving into the lava that had streamed into the riverbed. The name Saruta is taken from a deity called "Sarutahiko-no-Mikoto" (猿田彦神), the god of roads and travellers. Sarutahiko travelled all over Japan. One day he came to Amagi in Izu, and when he passed the depth, a cherry trout (桜鱒 sakura masu) broke the surface of the stream and jumped right into Sarutahiko's hands. From that day on, the villagers called the place 'Saruta Depth'.

Ebi-daru (エビ瀑), the Shrimp Fall

A statue of Ebisu at Ebi-daru

Deai-daru (出合瀑), with its magnificent columnar joints

The Odoriko Trail is an 18.5-kilometre hiking trail from the Jōren Falls (浄蓮の滝) all the way south to Yugano (湯ケ野), following the setting of Kawabata's short story 'The Izu Dancer'. The path is well-maintained but has a lot of stairs around Shokei-daru as well as two suspension bridges.

Kawazu Nanadaru Loop Bridge

This bridge is an amazing marvel of architecture along Prefectural Road 414 connecting the town of Shuzenji with southern Izu and just a stone's throw away from the Kawazu Nanadaru. The double-spiral corkscrew bridge is 1.1 kilometres long, 45 metres high, and measures 80 metres in diameter. It was the only way to connect the steep mountainside with the valley below and was finished in 1982. It is also open to bicycles, and we remember it was quite exciting to descend. The speed limit of 30 kph also applies to bicycles.

Kawazu is also a hot spring resort famous for Kawazu-zakura, cherry blossoms that bloom as early as February and March due to the mild climate of southern Izu. The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual month-long event held along Kawazu River with daily nighttime illumination between 18:00-21:00.

Access to Kawazu Nanadaru:

  • By shinkansen from Tokyo Station: 55 minutes to Atami Station, then via Izu Kyūkō Line to Kawazu Station (90 minutes) and by bus to Kawazu Nanadaru (25 minutes).
  • By direct train from Tokyo: Odoriko Limited Express to Kawazu Station (three services a day,155 minutes), then by bus to Kawazu Nanadaru. The Saphir Odoriko also runs on weekends during peak travel seasons.