Takachiho Gorge – A Scenic Spot in the Middle of Kyushu Mountains
Miyazaki Prefecture is blessed with so many beautiful tourist spots. One of these attractions is the Takachiho Gorge in Takachiho town.
Takachiho Town is located in the northernmost part of Miyazaki Prefecture; it is surrounded by two prefectures with Kumamoto Prefecture on its north and northwest sides and Oita Prefecture on its north and northeast sides. This town is about 120 km northwest of the prefectural capital of Miyazaki and about 80 km southeast of the city of Kumamoto. This town is one the most popular tourist attractions in Kyushu nowadays.
What makes this town popular?
There is a river that flows from the west to the southeast part of this town. About 1 kilometer away from the town center, the known Takachiho Gorge (the main attraction here in Takachiho town) is getting more and more popular among visitors. This gorge puts Takachiho town in the lists of places to visit.
According to the history of this town, Takachiho Gorge was formed thousands of years ago after the massive volcanic eruptions in the nearby Mt. Aso. The hot lava from the volcano flooded down the Gokase River and carved some sheer rock cliffs. Now, if you visit this place, you’ll see the amazing cliff formations created by the lava. Some cliffs stand heavenward and appear like pillars of a huge palace. Other cliffs look like folding fans.
The remarkably pristine Gokase River flows through the sheer basalt rock walls, just 3 meters apart at their narrowest point and over 100 meters tall. To get a close-up view of the cliffs and waterfalls, you can go down the river and row in designated boating areas. The water in the river is so calm and perfectly beautiful, an ideal place for boating. Boats are available at the south end of the gorge at 2,000 yen per boat for a 30-minute ride.
But if you're not into boating, from the parking area located near the bridge, you can take a walk on the paved path that runs along the edge of the gorge. There are beautiful views all along the way and at some points you can take photos of the river and the waterfalls. You can look practically straight down to the river below. The trail continues for about one kilometer and eventually leads you to the Takachiho Shrine. A lot of people visit this shrine on holidays.
I cannot imagine how nature transformed this place into something magical. Perhaps, the forces of nature were very powerful at that time; they’ve created this part of the town into something extraordinary, something that everyone has to see firsthand.
If you are coming from Kumamoto, you’ll definitely pass through the tunnel station. You can see the old train displayed on the left side of the highway. Though this train is not working anymore, you can get inside and enjoy some spa or eat some foods. Just a few meters away you'll see the tunnel wine cellar. It is not big, but it gives you a glimpse of how wine is stored in barrels one on top of the other all the way down a long tunnel. Today, the tunnel is only partially opened for public viewing. You need to return to the same gate you used when you enter. You can also go to the shop in front of the gate and start tasting some 30 to 40 kinds of Japanese sake. Outside the shop, you can take some good pictures with the horse carriage statue.
There's a lot of interesting things you can do while you are here in this town. If you wish to stay overnight, you can witness their ceremonial Kagura dance in the evening while sipping a glass of Japanese sake.
Air: Kumamoto Airport is the nearest airport to Takachiho and has direct flights to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya (Komaki & Chubu), Kobe, Naha (Okinawa) and Amakusa. Kumamoto Airport is about 50 minutes from downtown Kumamoto by regular bus.
Rail: The Takachiho-Nobeoka Line is unfortunately no longer in service after a typhoon in 2005 washed away two bridges of what was once one of Japan's most spectacular railways. Now it is only possible to ride a toy train a few kilometers from Takachiho Station to experience the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
Bus: Express buses go to Kumamoto (nearly 3 hours), Nobeoka (90 mins) and Takamori (1 hour), which is on the Minami-Aso railway line.