Takachiho Gorge

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Japans top hidden gem Takachiho Gorge In Kyushu Japan

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Takachiho Gorge is one of Japan’s most stunning natural sights. This narrow chasm features volcanic rock formations, a picturesque waterfall, crystal clear waters, and epic boat rides.

If you’re planning a trip to Takachiho Gorge, this complete guide will tell you everything you need to know.

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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Japans top hidden gem Takachiho Gorge In Kyushu Japan

No time to read it all? Here are the highlights:

  • Takachiho Gorge is located in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu
  • The gorge was formed by an eruption of Mt. Aso volcano around 90,000 years ago
  • Key things to do: See Manai Waterfall, go boating in the gorge, eat Nagashi Somen noodles
  • Best times to visit: Early morning and summer/fall are peak seasons
  • Multiple transportation options: Rent a car, take a day tour from Kumamoto or Fukuoka

Below you’ll find more in-depth information on everything from getting to Takachiho Gorge to what to pack and budgeting costs. 

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Takachiho gorge map 

to get yourself oriented this is a map to show you where Takach

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Where to stay to visit Takachiho Gorge

where to stay near takachiho gorge: In Takachiho Town

  1. Kashi Besso Takachiho – Popular hostel with friendly owners, events & bike rentals
  2. Solest Takachiho Hotel – Newer hotel in the town center with spacious Japanese-style rooms

Staying in Takachiho town allows you to access the gorge early before crowds and gives flexibility to see it both during the day and illuminated at night. There are also numerous ryokan inns and minshuku guesthouses to choose from.

In Aso Town/Aso-Kuju National Park

  1. Takamori Denraku – Traditional and modern ryokan rooms plus 4 outdoor baths

Aso town offers a nice rural setting and proximity to hike around the volcanos and caldera during the day. The drive to Takachiho Gorge is just under an hour.

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Larger Cities by 

If Takachiho Gorge is a side trip, base yourself in:

  • Kumamoto City – Vibrant capital with castle, shops and public transport access
  • Kagoshima City – Famous Sakurajima volcano and coastal environment
  • Fukuoka City – Good airport access, ramen shops and nightlife
  • Beppu City – Seaside city renowned for its hot spring baths

I recommend spending a night in Takachiho town if possible to avoid rushing and fully experience the area’s charms.

How To Get To Takachiho Gorge kyushu japan

Takachiho Gorge sits nestled among the mountains of Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, about 1,000 km southwest of Tokyo. There are a few options for getting there:

Option 1: Rent a Car and Drive to Takachiho Gorge

  • Rent a car Easiest way to reach the gorge with maximum flexibility
  • Allows you to stop at sights along the way
  • Approx. drive times:
    • From Fukuoka Airport: 3.5 hours
    • From Kumamoto Airport: 1.5 hours
  • An international driving permit required

Option 2: Guided Day Tour to Takachiho Gorge Tour

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Option 3: Public Transportation to Takachiho Gorge

  • Use a mix of local buses and trains
  • Infrequent schedules, multiple transfers
  • Allow plenty of time as journeys take 4+ hours each way

Tip: Alternate Transportation If driving doesn’t work, there is a daily highway bus from Fukuoka Tenjin Bus Terminal to Takachiho. However the schedule is limited so confirm times in advance. You can also take a train or bus to Nobeoka then transfer to the Takachiho line.

detailed instructions for getting to Takachiho Gorge from Fukuoka and other nearby towns:

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  how to get to Takachiho Gorge from Fukuoka

Driving from Fukuoka to Takachiho Gorge

  • Rent a car at Fukuoka Airport (I recommend Discover Cars as they include the required liability insurance)
  • Take the Kyushu Expressway heading south towards Kagoshima
  • After about 140km, take exit for Miyakonojo
  • From the exit, continue south on Route 220 for 30km
  • Turn left onto Prefectural Route 325 (signs for Takachiho)
  • Follow the winding mountain road for 8km to reach Takachiho
  • Total drive time: Approximately 3 hours

train and bus from Fukuoka to Takachiho Gorge

  • Take the JR Kyushu Sonic limited express train from Hakata Station to Nobeoka Station
  • The journey takes around 2 hours and costs ¥4,000 one-way
  • At Nobeoka Station, transfer to the Nichinan Line local train towards Miyakonojo
  • Get off at Takachiho Station after a 40 minute ride for ¥1,140
  • From Takachiho Station, there is an infrequent bus service to Takachiho Gorge
  • Total travel time is 3.5+ hours each way

  how to get to Takachiho Gorge from Kumamoto:

Driving from Kumamoto to Takachiho Gorge

  • Rent a car at Kumamoto Airport or train station (I recommend Discover Cars as they include the required liability insurance)
  • Get onto Kyushu Expressway heading southbound
  • Drive for about 60km and take the Takachiho interchange
  • Exit onto Route 446 heading towards Takachiho
  • After 25km you’ll reach Takachiho town
  • Total drive time: Around 1.5 hours

train and bus from Kumamototo Takachiho Gorge

  • Take a train on the Kyushu Shinkansen from Kumamoto to Oita Station
  • Find the bus schedule here
  • Then transfer to the limited express train to Nobeoka
  • Finally take the local train to Takachiho Station
  • Total journey is 2.5-3 hours and costs ¥7,000+
  • You can also take a bus from Kumamoto to Nobeoka to shorten the trip
Takachiho Gorge

 how to get to Takachiho Gorge From Beppu City:

Driving from Beppu City to Takachiho Gorge

  • Rent a car in Beppu city center (I recommend Discover Cars as they include the required liability insurance)
  • Take Route 10 highway heading northeast
  • Drive 45km and take exit to Yufuin/Takachiho
  • Continue along windy Route 446 for 1 hour
  • You’ll pass Yufuin hot spring town before reaching Takachiho
  • Total drive time: Approximately 2 hours

train and bus from Beppu City to Takachiho Gorge

  • Take a local train from Beppu to Nobeoka on the Nippo Main Line
  • The 90 minute ride costs around ¥2,000
  • At Nobeoka, transfer to the local Nichinan Line train to Takachiho
  • Total travel time just over 2 hours

Be sure to input the destination into Google Maps or a GPS navigator to guide you. Give yourself plenty of extra time as the roads around Takachiho Gorge are narrow and steep.

Tip: Parking at Takachiho Gorge: Once you reach Takachiho town, there are parking lots located on both sides of the trail leading to the gorge. Parking costs around 500 yen per day. Arrive early to secure a spot, especially during peak seasons.

When to Visit Takachiho Gorge & Best time to visit to Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho Gorge looks stunning all year round. However, peak seasons offer ideal weather and sights:

  • Spring (late March – May)
    • Comfortable temperatures, not too crowded
    • See cherry blossoms blooming elsewhere in Kyushu
  • Summer (June – August)
    • Hot, humid weather with potential rain
    • Lush green forests around the gorge
    • Firefly viewing at night
  • Fall (September – November)
    • Fewer crowds after Obon holiday period
    • Trees turn vivid red, yellow and orange
    • Gorge is illuminated at night
  • Winter (December – February)
    • Very cold but gorge is quiet and peaceful
    • Snow creates a magical atmosphere

Tip: The lighting is also amazing in early morning and late afternoon.

Avoid weekends and holidays if you can as the paths and boats get very crowded.

Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho Gorge things to do 

There’s plenty to see and do during your visit to the gorge:

Walk Along the Gorge

  • Paved pathway runs for 1 km along the edge
  • Insane views down cliffs to the river below
  • Leads all the way to Takachiho Shrine
  • Stop at Miainotaki Waterfall viewpoint

Row a Boat

  • Iconic must do activity – see gorge up close from below
  • Boats seat 3 people maximum
  • Rent boats at the south end of the gorge
  • Cost for row boat rental at Takachiho Gorge is ¥3,000 for 30 minutes
Takachiho Gorge

Eat Nagashi Somen Noodles

  • Noodles flow down bamboo pipes – catch with chopsticks
  • Invented at Chiho no Ie Teahouse beside gorge in 1950s
  • Cold noodles flavored with soy sauce
  • Set meal costs ¥1,200

Visit Nearby Sights

  • Takachiho Shrine – ancient shrine with scenic approach
  • Takachiho Promenade – riverside walking path
  • Kihachi no Chikaraishi – mysterious giant boulder

Go at Night

  • Gorge is lit up until 10 pm in summer
  • Rowboats and water shimmer under lights
  • Magical, otherworldly atmosphere

What to Bring to Takachiho Gorge and visiting Tips

Packing appropriately will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

  • Sturdy walking shoes – terrain is uneven with steep drops
  • Light jacket – temperatures cool in gorge even during summer
  • Rain gear – weather can be unpredictable year-round
  • Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Camera/phone – capture those legendary views
  • Cash for entrance fees and boat rentals

Tip:  Stop to exchange money upon airport arrival if needed. There is only one ATM compatible with foreign cards at the 7-Eleven in Takachiho town. Entrance fees and boat rentals are cash only.

Leave large bags and valuables in your car or hotel. The paved pathways are fine for strollers and wheelchairs.

Things you should know: Opening Hours, Prices, & Tickets to Takachiho Gorge

takachiho gorge boat rental station: online reservations

Takachiho Gorge Boat Rental Reservations: Website

Important info about online reservations for takachiho gorge row boats

  • Reservation can be made : From 1 week (9:00) to 2 days (9:00) before the scheduled boarding date
  • If the all reservation are sold out for the day, same-day tickets will not be sold. If you are looking for a same-day ticket, go directly to the Takachiho Gorge rental boat reception on the day of.

Address to Takachiho Gorge Boat Rental station: Mukoyama, Takachiho, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1103

Opening hours of Takachiho Gorge

takachiho gorge opening hours are 8:30am to 5:00pm (Reception : until 4:30pm)

Tip: Reservations for Takachiho gorge row boat rentals are available online and you should book this way in advance. It is popular in the summer months and tickets to boat rental book out the day of.

Parking at Takachiho Gorge

here are the parking lots google location and the fee

Oshioi Parking   /  500 yen
Araragi Parking  /  300 yen
Ohashi Parking   /  Free

Fees and ticket prices for Takachiho Gorge:

  • Entrance Fee: ¥1,000
  • Parking: ¥500
  • Boat Rental (30 minutes)Price per Boat=¥4,100~¥5,100
  • Nagashi Somen Noodles: ¥1,200
  • Kyushu Car Rental (per day): ¥5,000-10,000
  • Hotel in Takachiho (per night): ¥8,000-15,000
  • Guided Day Tour from Kumamoto: ¥13,000

So budget between ¥5,000-20,000 per person depending on whether you drive yourself or add activities like boating and eating.

Best Places to Stay in Takachiho

Takachiho town offers traditional ryokan inns as well as modern hotels:

Check prices and availability as rooms fill fast, especially on weekends.

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Takachiho Gorge Travel Tips

Follow these pro tips to make the most of your visit:

  • Get there early – beat crowds for parking/boats and see the morning golden hour light on the waterfall
  • Book a rowboat in advance – long waits during peak seasons otherwise
  • See both viewpoints – from above on the walkway and below from a boat
  • Go before/after major holidays – avoid obon week and Golden Week when hordes descend
  • Check the weather – rain can make paths slippery and close the gorge entirely
  • Stay overnight if possible – gives you flexibility plus enjoy onsen hot springs

Why visit Takachiho Gorge and is Takachiho Gorge worth visiting?

Takachiho Gorge is a hidden gem in Japan that deserves a spot on any travel itinerary. Here are reasons why it should be on your list and how its remote location adds to the charm:

Epic Natural Beauty

The gorge itself features towering volcanic rock cliffs, a dense green forest, and the mesmerizing 17-meter-high Manai Waterfall cascading into the crystal clear river below. Seeing the boats drift gently through this narrow chasm is an iconic image of Japan yet the gorge remains relatively unknown to foreign tourists.

Mythology and Spirituality

According to Japanese lore, this gorge is where Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun, once hid in a cave plunging the world into darkness. Her eventual emergence is why nearby Takachiho Shrine remains an important spiritual site today. Exploring the gorge feels like stepping into a mythical realm dotted with ancient shrines and magical secrets waiting to be uncovered.

Boating and Outdoor Adventure

Drifting slowly in a rowboat just inches from the gorge walls brings a rush of exhilaration. The area also offers scenic hiking trails including part of the 47km Kyushu Olle Trail, riverside strolls, and serene countryside vistas. Outdoor enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice with the stunning nature surrounding Takachiho.

Local Culture and Cuisine

The remote town of Takachiho offers a taste of slow-paced countryside living complemented by ryokan hot spring inns, somen noodle shops, and nightly French cuisine. Trying to catch cold noodles as they come flowing down bamboo pipes is also a quintessential Japanese experience.

Few Foreign Tourists

Unlike attractions like Fushimi Inari or Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Takachiho Gorge attracts mostly domestic tourists even during peak season. The result is an authentic experience not overrun by crowds. Being one of Japan’s best kept secrets makes it even more special to visit.

In short, Takachiho Gorge warrants a visit both for its breathtaking scenery steeped in legends and the chance to see a uniquely preserved side of Japan away from bustling cities. Paddling down the gorge really does feel like entering a magical portal into the past.

Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho Gorge itinerary

Here are suggested itineraries for visiting Takachiho Gorge:

As a Day Trip from Kumamoto or Fukuoka

  • 7:00am – Pick up rental car and depart
  • 9:30am – Arrive at Takachiho Gorge parking
  • 10:00am – Walk through gorge and see Miainotaki Waterfall
  • 11:00am – Boat ride rental
  • 12:00pm – Eat somen noodles
  • 1:00pm – Return rental boat
  • 2:00pm – Depart Takachiho
  • 5:30pm – Arrive back at starting point

As Part of a Kyushu Road Trip

  • Days 1-3 – Stay in Fukuoka/Beppu/Kumamoto and see sights
  • Day 4 Morning – Pick up rental car and drive to Takachiho Gorge
  • Day 4 Afternoon – Explore Takachiho Gorge
  • Day 4 Evening – Stay overnight in Takachiho town
  • Day 5 Morning – Visit Amano Iwato Shrine
  • Day 5 Afternoon – Drive to Kagoshima

With an Overnight Stay in Takachiho

  • Day 1 Morning – Arrive and check into hotel
  • Day 1 Late Morning – Walk through gorge and do rowboat ride
  • Day 1 Afternoon – Free time to relax at hotel onsen
  • Day 1 Evening – Walk back to gorge for illuminations
  • Day 2 Morning – Hike part of Kyushu Nature Trail
  • Day 2 Late Morning – Check out and drive back

Combine Takachiho Gorge with other sights like Yakushima’s ancient cedar forests or Kagoshima’s active Sakurajima volcano for an epic Kyushu adventure.

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FAQs About Visiting Takachiho Gorge

Here are answers to common questions about Takachiho Gorge:

Where exactly is Takachiho Gorge located?

Takachiho Gorge sits in the town of Takachiho, in Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. The closest airports are in Fukuoka and Kumamoto.

What’s the best way to get to Takachiho Gorge?

The easiest option is to rent a car, allowing you maximum flexibility. Guided tours from Fukuoka or Kumamoto are best for those without cars. Using public transportation takes much longer with multiple transfers.

When is the best time of year to visit Takachiho Gorge?

Peak visitation occurs during spring and fall when the weather is ideal. Summer brings hot temperatures but atmospheric night illuminations. The gorge is less crowded in winter but quite cold.

How much time do you need to see Takachiho Gorge?

Most visitors spend 2-5 hours total. With an overnight stay you can see the gorge at night when it’s illuminated and also hike part of the Kyushu Nature Trail.

Is it safe to row boats in Takachiho Gorge?

Yes, rowing rental boats inside Takachiho Gorge is very safe. Life jackets are provided and authorities close the gorge during periods of heavy rain or fast river currents.

Can you swim in the waters of Takachiho Gorge?

No, swimming is strictly prohibited anywhere in Takachiho Gorge due to the rocky terrain, strong currents, and sharp drops. Visitors must stay inside rental boats at all times.

Experience Takachiho Gorge’s Breathtaking Beauty

As you can see, Takachiho Gorge offers one of Japan’s most magnificent natural sites with epic boating, hiking, and photo ops. Its volcanic origins and spiritual folklore only add to the mystical atmosphere.

Hopefully this guide has helped you start planning your own adventure to Takachiho Gorge and given you some tips to make the most of your visit. Just don’t forget your camera – those views are jaw-dropping

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