What is Takachiho Gorge?
Located in North East of Miyazaki prefecture in Kyusyu, Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō) is a beautiful creation of ancient volcanic activities that has been attracting people from inside and outside Japan for a long, long time. The secret of the breathtaking landscape is the mountain Aso. The layers of lava from this volcanic mountain Aso, which is active even today, formed the land of solid rocks as they cooled down, and were eventually cut through by the Gokase River due to the erosion to become today’s V-shaped gorge.
The side cliffs are standing vertically straight up to the sky whose average height is around 80 meters. The length of the cliff lasts for 7 km long and about 1 km walking trail will lead you to the Takachiho Shrine where many gods and goddesses are believed to dwell. You can walk on the walking trail alongside the water and observe it from above to enjoy the incredible art of nature at once.
17m high UNESCO Manai Falls
One of the best spots not to be missed in Takachiho Gorge is Manai Falls, known as one of the best waterfalls in Japan. The land above the gorge is preserved as a national park, and the water falling down from the pond “Onokoro” makes the Manai Falls. This 17-meters-high falls create clouds of spray rising up from the falling water, and was registered as the National Treasure in 1934 for its magnificent scenery it creates. Although it’s hard to believe, the waterfall basin is said to be as deep as the length of the falls and goes into further down into the greenish blue pure water. During the summer period, both the Manai Falls and the walking trail will be lit up, which adds the subtle and profound atmosphere. Yet, it’s not just for summer as you can enjoy the different backgrounds with flowers and plants throughout the four seasons.
Amazing sceneries and ancient myths
Great viewpoints would be the three bridges arching over the gorge called Takachiho three bridges. It is said the Takachiho is the only gorge that has so many bridges in such a small distance and this unusual combination of humans’ constructions and natural creation indeed makes very unique scenery you cannot find anywhere else. There are also many spots deeply related to the myths and legends of Japan in the gorge including “Kihachi-no-Chikara-ishi”, Kihachi’s Powerful Rock. According to a legend that has been passed down to generations to generations, Kihachi was a demon who was known for the evil deeds. One day, when Mikenuno-Mikoto, one of the ancient gods in Japan, who wiped him out and looked after this region came to confront Kihachi. Then it is said that Kihachi threw this rock in front of Mikenuno-Mikoto to show off his power. The rock is about 200 tons, and you can see its gigantic piece of rock from the walking trail.
It is a spiritual experience
Takachiho Gorge and this region in general is also known as a spiritual site in Japan. It is believed that the natural energy is concentrated in some places in Japan, where ancient mythical history and traditions have been preserved. Today, many people visit these spiritual places to get relaxed, purified, calmed and eventually revitalised. Many visitors tend to just stand at one point to embrace this gift from the nature, and said they can forget the concept of time. Whether you believe such a power of nature or not, just breathing in the air of the gorge would be enough to let you escape from the normality and take you to the moment of relief you’ve been missing in a busy daily life.
Row, row, row your boat
For those who would like to watch the gorge and the waterfalls as closely as possible, there are plenty of boats you can rent. Its capacity is normally two to three people, and it is rather basic and nothing really fancy. You got to have at least some rowing skills to control your directions though, as the waterfalls will appear right in front of you and all you can do would be constant gasping. And of course, going through the 80 meters high wall of ancient lavas is a truly extraordinary experience.
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Address: Oshioi Mitai, Takachiho, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki Prefecture
Access: 30~40 minutes walk from the Takachiho Bus Center
Opening Hours (Boat rental): 7:30am ~ 5:30pm (July 16th – August 31st), 8:30am ~ 5:00pm (rest of the year)
Fee (Boat rental): 2,000 yen for 30 mins
Website: Takachiho Tourist Association