|A Great Waterfall Plunging Down from Mystic
The area stretching from the middle of the Kii Peninsula,
where the prefectures of Wakayama and Nara sit together, towards the sea
of Kumano to the south is designated the Yoshino-Kumano National Park.
Deep in the mountains of Kumano, the landform is extremely precipitous.
This, together with the thick forest fed by plentiful rain, makes access
difficult for people. It is no wonder that since ancient times people have
considered the area to be a mythical place. Since the 10th century, centered
around the so-called Three Mountain Shrines of Kumano, including Hongu,
Nachi, and Shingu, belief in the mystic powers of the mountains of Kumano
has flourished. One of these beliefs was that the Kumano mountains cache
the Buddhist paradise and that, if a worshipper prays at the Three Grand
Shrines, he or she can attain salvation and enter paradise while still
alive. The shrines thus attracted many pilgrims ranging from members of
the Imperial family to the common people.
Kumano Nachi-san mountain, with its slopes covered by a primeval forest of luxuriant evergreen trees, is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) inland from the Sea of Kumano. Cascading down between the peaks, the Nachi River runs over 48 waterfalls. Nachi Fall, also known as Ichi-no-Taki (The First Fall), is the largest of these. The great Ichi-no-Taki, where in a 13-meter-wide flow, one ton of water drops straight down for 133 meters (436 feet) every second, rivals the Kegon Fall at Nikko and the Fukuroda Fall in Ibaraki Prefecture as the most beautiful waterfall in Japan. Nearby, said to be the first place which has enshrined and revered Nachi Fall, is the Nachi Shrine, one of the three Kumano Grand Shrines.
Photos: (Top) Nachi Fall and the Pagoda of Kumano Shrine; (middle) Rushing water of Nachi Fall. (Wakayama Prefecture)
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