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Takachiho: 6 Things to Do in Miyazaki's Nature-Rich Paradise

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Takachiho is located in northern Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan. This city is renowned for its abundant nature with splendid locations like the Takachiho Gorge and many mythological and historical sites. Read on to learn the best things to enjoy in Takachiho.

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Takachiho: A Natural Paradise in Miyazaki

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Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture is famous as the location where Japan's creation myths (*1) unfolded. The myths and stories mentioned in historical records such as “Kojiki” and “Nihon Shoki” are connected to Takachiho's majestic nature.

We decided to take you to the spots where you can enjoy the nature and history of Takachiho firsthand, and also introduce a recommended tour to those who want an in-depth experience of discovery and learning.

6 Things to Do in Takachiho

1. Rent a boat at Takachiho Gorge
2. Walk Down the Takachiho Promenade
3. Hop on the Grand Super Cart of Amaterasu Railway
4. Visit the Divine Amano Iwato Shrine
5. Watch the Traditional Performance, Takachiho Kagura, at Takachiho Shrine
6. Look Down at a Sea of Clouds at Kunimigaoka
Guided Tours of Takachiho
Recommended Itinerary for a 2-Day Trip in Takachiho
How to Get to Takachiho

1. Rent a Boat at Takachiho Gorge

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Takachiho Gorge was created when Mount Aso, an active volcano in Kumamoto Prefecture, erupted, and the pyroclastic flow, spreading through the Gokase River, abruptly cooled down. In 1934, it was designated as a sight of outstanding beauty ("meisho" in Japanese) and became one of Japan’s natural monuments, resulting in many travelers visiting from various countries.

Inside the gorge, you'll discover Manai Falls, designated as one of Japan’s 100 Most Beautiful Waterfalls. The powerful 17-meter wall of water gushing down will leave you speechless! The best way to get to the waterfall and explore other spots in the dynamic gorge is to rent a boat. It is rare to get so close to a waterfall that you can nearly feel the water splashing down on you.

The rental fee for a boat is 2,000 yen for 30 minutes (up to three persons). During Golden Week (the holiday week lasting from late April through the beginning of May) and summer holidays, there is a possibility that you'll have to wait for 2 to 3 hours for your boat, so it is best to visit the gorge when you have plenty of spare time.

Takachiho Gorge Boat Rental
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Mitai Oshioi
Access: around 13 minutes by Takachiho Kaiyu bus (*) from Takachiho Bus center; get off at Takachiho Gorge bus stop
Official Webpage: https://takachiho-kanko.info/en/
** Takachiho Kaiyu bus runs on the weekends and holidays (during busy seasons)

2. Walk Down the Takachiho Promenade

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In Takachiho Gorge, alongside the Gokase River, there is a kilometer-long promenade. During April 2016, due to the Kumamoto Earthquake, the promenade was closed but was repaired and reopened in March 2017.

The walkway features many interesting spots, such as the Yaritobi Bridge, spanning the narrowest part of the Gokase River, Kihachi no Chikaraishi, a gigantic rock estimated to be as large as 3 meters high and as heavy as 200 tons, Tamadare Falls, and Manai Falls, where water flows in several stunning streams. In the summertime, you can enjoy illuminations, and view the mesmerizing autumn foliage in the fall. The area is sure to surprise you each season with its seasonal charm.

Takachiho Promenade
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Mitai Oshioi Google Map
Access: Access: around 13 minutes by Takachiho Kaiyu bus (*) from Takachiho Bus center; get off at Takachiho Gorge bus stop
Official Webpage: https://takachiho-kanko.info/en/
** Takachiho Kaiyu bus runs on Weekends and holidays (during busy seasons)

3. Hop on the Grand Super Cart of Amaterasu Railway

In 2005, old, out-of-use railway tracks were used to create Amaterasu Railway, a train that operates at 25 km per hour between Takachiho Station to Takachiho Iron Bridge for a 5.1-kilometer round trip.

The Grand Super Cart, which made its debut in March 2017, is particularly popular. The center part of the passenger seat floor is see-through, fortified glass, enabling you to see the tracks. Another fascinating side to the round trip is the 105-meter-high Takachiho Iron Bridge, which, together with the cart’s glass floor, makes the voyage all the more interesting.

The ride only lasts for around 30 minutes, but since the reservations aren't required, this activity is easy to fit into your travel itinerary. It will also familiarize you with the area’s beautiful nature and give you a chance to enjoy the stunning scenery.

Takachiho Amaterasu Railway
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Mitai 1425-1
Access: around 10 minutes by foot from Takachiho Bus Center
Official Webpage: https://amaterasu-railway.jp (Japanese)

4. Visit the Divine Amano Iwato Shrine

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The Japanese Amano-Iwato myth (machine-translated English available) tells a story about the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami and Susano-o no Mikoto, brother and sister deities, whose relations worsened when Susano-o enraged his sister, making her retreat herself to a cave called Amano-Iwato.

Amano Iwato Shrine was built to honor the Amano-Iwato from the story. You can take a look at the Amano-Iwato goshintai (sacred place, *2) under the guidance of the Shinto priest in charge. However, please note that photography is prohibited.

*2 Goshintai: places and objects a deity is believed to be dwelling in.

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If you take a 15-minute walk from Nishi-hongu to the Iwato River, you’ll find a large cave called Amanoyasukawa. The myth says that when the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, was in the cave, the whole world went dark. It marks that very place as the place where countless gods and goddesses were to discuss the problem. The cave will give you goosebumps with its sacred and magical atmosphere.

Amanoiwato Shrine
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Iwato 1073-1 Google Map
Access: around 17 minutes by Takachiho Kaiyu bus (*) from Takachiho Bus Center; get off at Amanoiwato Shrine bus stop
Official Webpage: http://amanoiwato-jinja.jp (machine-translated English available)

** Takachiho Kaiyu bus runs on weekends and holidays (during busy seasons)

5. Watch a Traditional Performance of Takachiho Kagura at Takachiho Shrine

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The Takachiho Gorge once had over 500 different shrines, and there were 88 shrines that were above all others, known as Takachiho’s 88 Shrines.

Built almost 1900 years ago, Takachiho Shrine represents the main shrine of Takachiho’s 88 Shrines, and its main hall and the pair of iron komainu statues (komainu: lion-dog) are designated as Important Cultural Property in Japan.

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Every year from the middle of November through the beginning of February of the following year, Takachiho City organizes a musical and dance performance known as Yokagura (*3) throughout the night, at 20 different locations.

Yokagura is another Important Intangible Cultural Property in Japan. Visitors can watch Takachiho Kagura every evening between 20:00 to 21:00 throughout the whole year at Takachiho Kagura Hall (Kaguraden), for 700 yen (price of 1 person, no reservations required).

*3 Kagura/Yokagura: a ceremony (prayer) held for a good harvest and catch (fish and animals). Nowadays it is a folk art performance given at special events and celebrations, much loved by the people.

Takachiho Shrine
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Mitai 1037 Google Map
Access: about 15 minutes on foot from Takachiho bus center
Official Webpage: http://takachiho-kanko.info/en/sightseeing/

6. Look Down at a Sea of Clouds at Kunimigaoka

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There is an old Shinto legend at Kunimigaoka about Takeiwatatsu no Mikoto, grandson of the first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jinmu. It is said that he stood on this hill and observed Kyushu.

The view from a platform 513 meters high above the sea level is so magnificent that Kunimigaoka was granted a star from Michelin Green Guide Japan (2011).

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The area is known for its beautiful sea of clouds, and during the early mornings in autumn and early winter, the Takachiho basin and the surrounding mountains are covered in mist, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere.

Kunimigaoka Viewing Platform
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Oshikata Google Map
Access: around 15 minutes by car from Takachiho bus center
Official Webpage: http://takachiho-kanko.info/en/sightseeing/

Take a Guided Tour of Takachiho

A guided tour in Takachiho may be the answer for travelers looking for a simple way to experience the sights listed above in a stress-free way. This tour, reservable online via travel website, Klook, covers a special day of outdoor fun at Takachiho Gorge, rowing by Manai Falls, and a drive to nearby Mt. Aso. Highly-rated, this tour includes some of the best of Takachiho.

See more details and reserve: Takachiho Guided Tour

Recommended Itinerary for a 2-Day Trip in Takachiho

If you're planning to visit Takachiho, be sure not to miss the evening event, Takachiho Yokagura, or the spectacular view of the sea of clouds in autumn and early winter. We recommend a two-day, one-night trip.

You'll find a wide range of lodging facilities in the city center, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious ryokan facilities. Simply choose one according to your budget and preferences.

While you can utilize the city bus, it may be inconvenient due to the limited number of buses and routes. We recommend using taxis, renting a car, or bicycles for easier transportation.

The Takachiho Kaiyu bus operates during peak travel seasons, weekends, and holidays, connecting major attractions such as Takachiho Gorge, Amanoiwato, Takachiho Shrine, and other sites. For a more convenient experience, consider purchasing an all-day pass for the Takachiho Kaiyu bus, allowing unlimited rides for one day (adults 600 yen; children 300 yen).

Upon your arrival in Takachiho, seek out Machinaka Annaijo, also known as the Machinaka Tourist Information Center (a tourism center approved by the JNTO). Here, you can access all the information you need about Takachiho, including details about your trip, tours, local events and activities, as well as information on car and bicycle rentals and luggage storage.

Machinaka Tourist Information Center
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Mitai 802-3 Google Map (Japanese)
Access: around a minute by foot from Takachiho bus center
Official Webpage: https://takachiho-kanko.info/en/

How to Get to Takachiho

From Fukuoka
It takes around 4 hours by highway bus, Gokase-go, from Hakata Station. Four buses per day. A single one-way ticket costs 4,020 yen (prior reservation required).
From Kumamoto
It takes around 3 hours by limited express buses, Aso-go and Takachiho-go, from Kumamoto Station. Two buses run per day. A single one-way ticket costs 2,370 yen (prior reservation required).
From Miyazaki
About 2 hours and 40 minutes by transit highway bus from Miyako City Bus Center. One bus runs per day. A single one-way ticket costs 2,500 yen (prior reservation required).

*During certain seasons buses are not available. For further information on the schedule, visit this link. (Japanese)

Experience the Nature and History of Takachiho!

Takachiho is located in a remote, difficult-to-access area in the central part of the Kyushu region. However, one visiting will show the charm and wondrous aura of this region. Make plans to travel to this historical and spiritual nature haven!

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幼少期から福岡で育ち、現在は福岡を拠点に九州・山口各地のグルメや旅などの取材・執筆活動を行う。美味しいものがあると聞けば、日本全国どこへでも飛んで行くフットワークの軽さが自慢です。

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