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Have you ever tried to meditate? Do you feel like it is hard to concentrate on your breathing and clear your mind? How about doing it right beneath a 23-meter high waterfall that's freezing cold? We had to try this unique experience out ourselves!

▲Waterfall Training (Takigyo)

"Takigyo" means waterfall training/meditation in Japanese. It is practiced widely by many throughout the country. The objective of Takigyo is to cleanse one's mind, body and soul through a Buddhism purification ritual.

To make things hard yet rewarding, the “cleansing” happens under the rough waters of a waterfall at approximately 15 degrees Celsius. Going through the experience will test your limits, and allow you to go through mental-training and self-discovery.


Luckily for us, Yamanashi is home to one of the best places in Japan to try Takigyo, the "Bentendo Waterfall." This waterfall is located in the town of Hayakawa, which happens to be the least-populated town in the country.

Despite being the smallest town in Japan population-wise, it is the second-largest in terms of its land area. Yes, that’s right, the second biggest town of Japan also has the lowest population. So, it is no surprise that there is almost no public transportation available, making a car the best option.

The road that leads to the Bentendo Waterfall, is an attraction in and of itself. It goes through a deep valley, surrounded by thick forests clear, blue river waters. Sometimes wild animals, like monkeys and deer, jump into the road, so make sure to drive carefully.


We went to try our hand at this unique experience around noon on a sunny September day, right after the beginning of the autumn season. For the most part, the weather was starting to cool down from the unbearable heat of this year’s summer, but it was clear that we still had a while before autumn really kicked in.

Nevertheless, Takigyo at Bentendo can be done mostly all year round, except for the winter season when the waterfall freezes over.

▲Image by Hayakawa Kankou Archives

Near Bentendo, there is a small parking area available within about a 5-minute uphill walk from the main Buddhist temple for Takigyo-goers.

Upon arrival we were received by the chief priest of the temple. He invited us to enter the temple, take a seat, and receive instruction for the Takigyo ritual. Many Takigyo-goers of this site have witnessed apparitions. Many have claimed to have seen one of the seven God’s of Luck and the only female in the group, the divine Diety Benzaiten ("Benten" for short).

Another thing we learned is that Takigyo isn't just a one-time thing. In fact, in Buddhism culture the ritual is advised to be done on the regular to keep your body and mind cleansed. 



During the explanation we could hear the powerful noises from the waterfall outside, which did increase our nerves a little, all while making more excited. It was going to be a challenge entering in the cold water, and some of us, by this time still didn’t know if they would have courage to do it or not.

After the chief priest's explanation, we were handed the proper Takigyo garments and split up to our respective changing rooms. As can be seen in the photos below, the garments are quite interesting. It was good to know that we would not have to get our clothes wet (just bring a towel), however others in our group weren't too keen on the clothing and decided to sit this one out.



We spent about 10 minutes preparing ourselves before entering the water. We chanted brief religious scriptures, clapped our hands together and shouted out certain phrases that were said to help cleanse our body and mind and keep us warm in preparing for the cold water.

The chief priest was the first enter to the water. First, he wet his hands, then his head, and then quickly got beneath the waterfall. Perhaps it was because of the strength of his faith, or simply the fact that he is used to Takigyo, but we couldn't help but think he made things look easy.

We watched as he stayed for a few minutes below the waterfall, shouting the Buddhism chants. Then, one by one, we went through the same ritual, hesitating at the beginning but overall enjoying the experience.

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Each member of our group felt something different during the Takigyo. Some could only feel the cold and couldn’t think of anything else, others felt the power of the waterfall was too strong and had trouble staying beneath it, but others could really enjoy the experience and truly felt their mind and soul being cleansed.


More Info

Be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Tel: 0556-45-2122
Address: 1245 Akazawa, Hayakawa-cho, Minamikoma-gun, Yamanashi

Published on

  • April 14, 2022


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