Oko-no-taki Waterfall (大川の滝) on the south-western side of Yakushima, is the tallest waterfall on the island. It is a spectacularly beautiful fall and has been included in the list of the 100 most beautiful waterfalls of Japan.
Yakushima is home to more waterfalls than you can count, and at least a handful of really tall falls. Oko-no-taki Waterfall is the tallest of the falls on the island, and probably the most beautiful one. The water from the Ogawa river (大川) falls over the edge of a steep and broad mountainside, landing in a pool below before continuing to the ocean just a few hundred meters down.
The fall is 88 meters tall, and the water runs in a broad stream over the large surface of the mountain side. Depending on the season and weather, the amount of water varies. At peaks there are two large streams gushing out over the edge. The observation area in front of the pool is easily accessible from the parking lot, and is also wheelchair friendly. The powerful fall produces a lot of droplets, making it unavoidable to get slightly wet, even when keeping a distance to the fall. On a hot summers day, it is an amazing opportunity to cool down.
By car: Oko Waterfall is located on the south-western side of Yakushima. From Miyanoura it is a 42km trip (1 hour). It is best to drive counterclockwise. From Anbo the shortest way is clockwise, across the southern part of the island, 30km (50 minutes).
Tourists are generally recommended to drive counter clockwise around the island if doing a full tour around the coast. There is a narrow and dangerous section of road on the southern part of the island. If you drive counterclockwise you will be on the less dangerous “inner side” of the road, the furthest away from the steep and sometime unprotected edges of the road.
By bus: Yakushima Kotsu Bus Company has a route around the perimeter of Yakushima. The route starts in Nagata and passes through Miyanoura (port) and goes clockwise around the island.
Some of the busses stop near Ohku Waterfall (not all of them). The busses that go to Oko-no-taki Waterfall all start at Miyanoura Port. The bus ride takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.
The stop near the waterfall is called Oko-no-taki Waterfall (大川の滝), stop id #129 and is the last stop on the route. As of 2020 3 busses per day go all the way to the waterfall, so check the schedule carefully before leaving. The busses wait around 30 minutes at the waterfall before embarking on the return route. Check with your bus driver, to make sure you have time to see the water fall and catch the same bus back.
The time tables are generally posted at the bus stops, but the most recent time tables can be found in the download section of Yakushima Tourism Associations website.