Hiji Otaki (Hiji Falls)

Nestled in the forests of Yambaru is an amazingly beautiful park with walkways or riverside paths leading to the star of the show, Hiji Great Waterfall - more commonly referred to as Hiji Falls.

I went to Hiji Falls back in the '70s - or maybe it was in the 80s - when I was a much younger man. It was quite a hike but, as I recall, not overly challenging. Notwithstanding my present age of 64 I couldn't let my 2015 trip to Okinawa, where part of the time my son and I stayed at Okuma Recreation Center for a few days, go without at least an attempt to see the Falls again. So, on October 16th, Zac and I set out for a short drive to the Kunigami Village Nature Park.

A little intuition and good fortune got us there without needless delay. On several occasions of other excursions I found myself turning around a lot. Okuma, for example - I buzzed right past the sign that, in retrospect, was too large to have been ignored, admonishing me to turn left THERE AT THE SIGN! But I was too busy, I guess, looking at the overhead signs. Turn around as often as I might I can say I never got lost. It's virtually impossible to get lost on Okinawa. Just follow the sun and eventually (and in short order) you'll run into a coast!

It cost us each all of 500 yen to get into the park and once inside there is a wonderland of places to go and things to do. Our goal this day - get to the falls. Once inside the ticket booth we entered the camping area with wooden platforms all set to be tent foundations/patios to keep campers off the ground - and maybe most of the critters on the ground! There is a dam to the right that was designed to look a bit like a natural waterfall. It's really a nice touch to the campsite.

The trailhead is about 2 km inland from National Route 58 along the island's western coast on the East China Sea. From there it's approximately 1.7 km along the forest paths, trails, stairs and bridges to get to the waterfall. The sound of the forest is amazing! At one point, maybe half-way of so along the trail we encountered a suspension bridge that was about 80 feet above the riverbed below. A very nice scene. Come on along - let's do this!

As you can see, this isn't a flip-flop-wearing enterprise! As I recall, I was wearing my crocs and wished that I'd have worn my sketchers instead. But, woulda-coulda-shoulda... fahgetabahtit!

I have read at OkinawaHai.com that dogs are not permitted within the park. Though it would indeed be a great opportunity to spend some quality good time with your furry friend(s) I guess you'd be wasting your driving time and gas money to get there only to be turned away. It would be a miserable 2-3 hours for a dog to have to wait in the car!

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