After days of rain, the sun finally came out for our tour to Sengataki waterfall. Mr Kuwata, our Picchio guide, drove us from the Picchio tourist centre in the Hoshino resort to a car park 1km from the waterfall. From there, we walked to our destination, one of Karuizawa’s most beautiful natural sights.
With the binoculars provided, we had the opportunity to see the surrounding wildlife in all its glory, as some of Karuizawa’s fascinating birds and insects came out of their shelters from the rain. In this forest, there are all types of creatures - the famous Karuizawa Flycatcher, frogs, toads, bears, so many kinds of insects that even the Picchio experts can’t name all of them yet - but they like to stay hidden, so you have to keep your eyes peeled.
Our particular tour group was lucky, not only because of the change in weather, but also our observation skills - one of us managed to spot a Flycatcher, a beautiful local blue bird, although it was very far away, so it took some time for the rest of us to find it with our binoculars!
Mr Kuwata stopped us by a tree, which grows a black berry that’s the local bears’ favourite food. It also happens to make excellent jam! It was safe for us to pick these berries straight from the tree and eat them, fresh and dripping with pure rain drops. On this tour, you can really feel connected with nature without any fear.
As we passed by several fascinating (and scary!) insects, a baby toad hiding in leaves, and evidence of bear life within the forest, we climbed the last hundred steps towards the Sengataki waterfall. It was good exercise, and well worth the effort when we reached the top.
Sengataki waterfall is certainly one of the best views in Karuizawa, if not Japan. Its pure water is beautiful to watch, and is one of the reasons why there is such wonderful wildlife and so much vividly green vegetation on Mount Asama. Here, we sat and enjoyed a warming cup of tea and a sweet snack, taking a moment to appreciate what we had seen on our journey, and the miraculous waterfall that we were looking at.
Energy replenished, we headed back again, still taking our time to look out for animals and plants and feeling contemplative of the Sengataki waterfall we had come to see. The general consensus seemed to be that the walk (and for some of us, the fear of finding bugs!) was more than worth it, and a lovely journey through Karuizawa’s beautiful nature.
Sengataki Falls car park is a 5-minute drive from the Sezon Museum of Modern Art. I would highly recommend going with a Picchio tour guide, not only for the sake of convenience, as Sengataki is not easy to find, but mostly because the tours are great fun, the guides are friendly and can speak English, and going on the Picchio eco-tour allows you to really, fully appreciate Karuizawa.