I visited the island of Omishima on a hot day in the middle of summer when the cicadas were singing and the island was full of the scent of pine trees. Having driven for a while across the bridges and islands, I wanted to stretch my legs and get into the hills. The Irihi Falls turned out to be the right place for that.
The falls are located off Route 51, and they’re reasonably well signposted in English (if you keep your eyes peeled). The roads get gradually narrower and the final stretch is only suitable for compact cars. If you have a wide car, it’s best to park at the bottom by the river and walk up. If you do decide to drive up, considerable caution is required in places to avoid falling off the road.
Soon you come to a car park on the left. After parking, head back to the paved road, and straight on up. In summer, vivid blue-tailed lizards skitter into the brush as you approach. Snakes can also be found sunning themselves on the path. The stream from the falls is on your right. It would be prettier without the plastic piping that pokes out in places.
The path leads up to a clearing with a little temple building with a small shrine behind it. A tiny stone Buddha cradling a baby sits bathing in the sunlight and the waves of cicada song.
Beyond is the waterfall itself. A couple of thin trickles of water fall a decent distance over a fairly imposing outcrop of rock, pooling in a shallow basin below. After the hot walk up, it was pleasantly cool here. A large black butterfly and several little yellow ones flitted about and sat drinking the water. Brown and orange river crabs scuttled about.
If you go up the steps marked with a blue sign leading up from the car park, you find yourself on a pleasant, pine-scented trail with views over the mountains and sea. This path leads all the way to Oyamazumi Shrine.
The falls themselves are not a must-see place, but if you fancy a stroll in the mountains, you can expect to find solitude and encounter some wildlife here.
Name in Japanese 入日の滝 - Irihi no Taki