Takachiho Gorge 高千穂峡
The impressive Takachiho Gorge is at the bottom of the road that hairpins about 1km down from the center of town.
Takachiho Gorge was formed over 100,000 years ago after volcanic eruptions in the nearby Mount Aso area. The remarkably pristine Gokase River flows through the sheer basalt rock walls, just 3m apart at their narrowest point and over 100m tall in places.
Takachiho Gorge includes several spectacular waterfalls and boasts incredible colors in autumn when the leaves change. The natural environment here is one of the most beautiful in the country.
There is a riverside path leading along the banks of the river towards Takachiho Shrine or hire a rather expensive rowing boat (500 yen per person) to get a closer look of the wooded cliffs and sparkling waterfalls.
The path from the car park and boat hire station crosses and re-crosses the river with great views back to the waterfalls. The path ends at a stone bridge with a road back to Takachiho or take another path with views of the modern road bridge up to Takachiho Shrine through a thick forest. At the bridge a small restaurant and shop serves kappo sake, sake heated in a fresh bamboo stem.
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.
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.
Express buses go to Kumamoto (nearly 3 hours), Nobeoka (90 mins) and Takamori (1 hour), which is on the Minami-Aso railway line.
Getting Around Takachiho Gorge
Bicycles can be hired from Shinwa Rental Bicycles at the old station for rather expensive prices or join a tour bus beginning at Miyako bus station.