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Travel News Kegon Falls in Nikko drying up

thomas

Unswerving cyclist
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14 Mar 2002
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Kegon Falls, one of Japan's renowned waterfalls, starkly contrasts its usual grandeur. Despite receiving above-average rainfall this year, the falls resemble a mere trickle. With a breathtaking drop of 96 metres, Kegon Falls' water volume is regulated by a sluice gate upstream. Typically, during daytime tourist visits, the flow is adjusted to 1 to 2.5 tons per second. However, since the beginning of the year, the prefectural government has restricted the water volume to 0.1 tons per second on weekdays and 0.3 tons on weekends. It's a reminder of nature's delicate balance and the impact of human intervention.

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Kegon Falls on 19 June, photo credit: Noriyuki Shigemasa

Tourists taking pictures at the observatory have been surprised and disappointed. Koichi Kondo, 69, who visited along with his wife from Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, said, "We were looking forward to this trip." Although he knew beforehand that the falls had less water than usual, "It's still shocking to see in person," he admitted. According to a man who runs a photo shop at the observatory, the waterfall needs at least 2 to 3 tons per second for a spectacular picture. "Because it's rare to see so little water here, some people enjoy it as a curiosity," the man said. "But children who come to the observatory for the first time seem to be disappointed." The cause of the anomaly can be traced upstream to Lake Chuzenjiko, the source of the waterfall. According to the prefectural civil engineering office's Nikko branch, which manages the lake, the water level usually drops in the autumn when the precipitation decreases, but rises again from the spring onward. But this year, the level has remained low, officials said. In late March, the water level had dropped about 90 centimeters below normal. As a result, the amount of water released from the sluice gate leading to Kegon Falls has been reduced so much that the waterfall is barely visible, officials said. The water discharge has even been stopped at night completely. Despite these measures, the lake's water level is still about 40 cm below normal, officials said. The impact has been felt among sightseeing business operators at Lake Chuzenjiko as well.




This is what Kegon Falls looked like when we visited in 2014:

Kegon Falls
 
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