Takachiho Gorge 高千穂峡
Rowing in a volcanic canyon by a waterfall, and a trek through nature, culture and history
Imagine lazily cruising through a deep volcanic gorge in a rowboat while a waterfall forms rainbows in the mist around you.
If that appeals to you, put Takachiho Gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture on your Kyushu itinerary. The gorge is formed by columnar jointing, the result of the rapid cooling of an ancient lava flow. The view from a boat directly up the 17-meter Manai Falls is truly thrilling.
The Takachiho area also offers some wonderful shrines and inns near the gorge. You can see the gorge and more nature, culture and history on the Takachiho Course.
- Rowing a boat through the gorge
- Side trips to Takachiho Shrine and Amano-Iwato Shrine
- Trekking the 12.3-kilometer Takachiho Course if you've got the day
How to Get There
You can get to the closest large transportation hubs, Kumamoto and Miyazaki, via shinkansen or plane. There are direct buses from there to the Takachiho area.
Cars are another option. It's 140 kilometers from Miyazaki and takes about 2.5 hours if you use the toll road. Get onto the Higashi Kyushu Express (Miyazaki Route) and head north toward Nobeoka. After about 90 km take the exit toward Kumamoto just after the Kadogawa IC. Stay on Route 10 until it becomes Route 218. Stay on Route 218 for another 25 km and then follow the Takachiho signs. They're clearly marked.
Visit the fall in fall
The gorgeous shots you typically see of Takachiho Gorge are taken when the leaves are green, from April to October. Once the fall season begins, the gorge is filled with orange and red leaves. Plan your autumnal visit from mid-November to early December.
Climb to the perfect vantage spot
There's a little wooden observation deck perched nicely on top of the rocks that gives you a perfect vantage point to capture the flow of the falls and the rowboats meandering down below.
A paved path runs along the edge of the gorge for a kilometer. At some points on the trail, you can look practically straight down to the Gokase River below.
Walk along the riverside
You can also walk along the water's edge. It's rocky and slippery in spots, so make sure you've got appropriate footwear. You won't be able to go directly under the falls without riding in one of the boats, but you will be able to see the mossy cavern.
The southern end of the gorge offers a freshwater aquarium, a stocked fishing pond and restaurants and souvenir shops.
Staying for the night
Staying overnight is a possibility. There are traditional Japanese inns, ryokan, and hotels close to the gorge.
One reason to do so in summer is that the gorge is illuminated. You should also make the trip to Takachiho Shrine and the Kagura Night Festival dance performance. You might even squeeze in a side trip to Amano-Iwato Shrine to get a full cultural experience.
A trail for serious trekkers
If you're a dedicated hiker, consider a trek along the Takachiho Course, which offers an extensive look at the natural and cultural high points of the Takachiho area.
The 12.3-kilometer course begins at the Information Center in town and goes past Takachiho Shrine, the gorge, Mukoyama Shrine and Maruono Tea Garden, finishing up at the Gamataze Market.