- 3 min read

Kasen Waterfall

A little power spot between Matsuyama and Imabari

The short stretch of road between Matsuyama and Imabari includes many spots that are very pleasant to visit. Route 196 runs within a few meters of the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, and it’s easy to become mesmerized by the sight of rocky islets topped with pines and little ports with their fishing boats. But in fact, the inland side of the road holds many secret places of interest that are well worth investigating too.

One of these spots is Kasen Waterfall (歌仙の滝 Kasen no Taki). As you pass through the seaside town of Kikuma, home of Shikoku’s artisanal tile industry, you may see a standard blue and white road sign pointing to the falls. Chances are, you’d drive straight past it, wondering what you might be missing. Well let’s not pass it by—let’s go and have a look.

The road to the falls starts through the narrow streets of Kikuma with its attractive old buildings. You’re likely to encounter some very old people on foot, and children on bicycles. Once out of the little town, the road follows a pretty, winding river. There are rice fields, traditional farmhouses, graveyards, shrines and bamboo groves—the ideal Japanese countryside. The road suddenly gets steeper, and after a couple of doglegs, there’s a small car park, a big sign with faded paintings of the falls, and a footpath that goes up at an acute angle.

I visited in early July which is the month of the rainy season. The river that feeds the waterfall is very small, but it was fairly gushing from the recent rain. Hydrangeas bloomed in purple and blue, and the new greenery of spring was quickly turning to summer jungle. The path to the falls is well-maintained, with good steps. The first view of the waterfall is quite dramatic—it seems to fall over a significant cliff with a decent splashing noise. Just before the waterfall is a temple to the goddess Kannon, of whom a statue stands right below the falls. Kannon was probably once male, and the statue is androgynous to say the least.

After the hot climb, the cool, minus ion-rich air around the waterfall was delicious. I was very tempted to stand in the little pool under the waterfall and have a soak, and there was nobody around to care what I was doing.

I took a different path down through some beautiful bamboo and woodland. On the way I spotted a big Japanese striped rat snake, a shy and innocuous species, and there were many types of dragonfly and beetles to be seen around the stream.

Kasen Falls can be visited easily by car from Matsuyama or Imabari, but cyclists will also find the falls a rewarding detour from the main road.

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