If you are looking for a relaxing and picturesque location to unwind, the Takachiho Gorge may be the perfect spot for you. It is complete with nature, history, and even culture to make it a one-of-a-kind experience that is replenishing and nourishing.
What makes Takachiho Gorge so unique is that it is a deep volcanic gorge, allowing the gorge to get the name “Dragon Scaled Volcanic Ravine.”
As menacing as that name may seem, the Takachiho Gorge is the perfect location to unwind in a rowboat while surrounded by history and a beautiful waterfall.
As you would expect, this gorge is highly beautiful. It brings you straight up to the 55-foot tall Manai Falls, which is a thrilling sight.
The area is surrounded by historical shrines and inns so that you can fully immerse yourself and the beauty of Japan from all fronts.
For those in need of a relaxing and rejuvenating spot, a day trip to Takachiho Gorge is well worth the effort.
About Takachiho Gorge
Takachiho Gorge is a chasm that cuts right through the rocks surrounding the Gokase River. Its sites are breathtaking because the rocks of this gorge are very sharp and point straight up.
The stones themselves are patterned with unique twisting designs because the gorge formed from a volcanic explosion, resulting in the basalt columns we see today.
These basalt columns almost have a scale-like pattern. As a result, the Takachiho Gorge gets the name Dragon Scaled Volcanic Ravine – the rocks look like gigantic scales.
About halfway along the gorge, there is a waterfall called Minaiotaki. It is 55 feet high and cascades down, all the while being surrounded by dense foliage and grey cliffs.
During the summer, the gorge is illuminated, and there is even a freshwater aquarium, fishing pond, and other attractions in the area.
The Beauty of Takachiho Gorge
Takachiho Gorge stands out for its beauty alone. This beautiful ravine came about because of a rapid cooling process of an ancient lava flow.
Today, this ravine is cut with water, resulting in lush greenery and beautiful waterfalls, but there is a lot of human life too.
Signs By the Season
Some of the most beautiful shots of Takachiho Gorge are taken during spring and summer. During these seasons, the leaves are vibrantly green, contrasting against the dark stones and sky reflecting water.
With these green leaves, Takachiho Gorge is clearly full of life.
Although Takachiho Gorge is most commonly visited during warm months, it is exquisite during the fall.
Between October and December, the gorge is filled with vibrant orange and red leaves that aren’t just beautiful but breathtaking.
Enjoy the Views by Land or Water
To ensure you get a complete picture, Takachiho Gorge has a wooden observation deck on top of the rocks. This allows you to see the beauty from the top vantage point.
All the while, you can enjoy the bottom view by taking a rowboat into the gorge yourself.
You can also take to foot to enjoy all the nature without getting in the water. There are trails and paved paths that run along the gorgeous edge for about half a mile.
These points allow you to view the scenery, including straight looks down to the river. Likewise, you can walk along the riverside, but make sure to pack appropriate shoes.
If you are a serious hiker, Takachiho Gorge even has a course that is 7.4 miles long. It begins at the Information Center and goes all the way through the sites to finish up at the Gamataze Market.
Although the gorge is the star of the show, Takachiho Gorge is surrounded by a culture that you don’t want to miss.
Most importantly, the Takachiho Shrine and Amano-Iwato Shrine are both located off the path. These side trips are well worth your time because they provide an incredible cultural experience.
Likewise, there are plenty of markets and other places to see. The two most notable are the Maruono Tea Garden and Gamataze Market.
These sorts of locations not only immerse you in nature, but they immerse you in traditional Japanese culture.
Events in the Area
As though Takachiho Gorge was not enough in and of itself, there are a lot of special events planned by the community you can attend. If you are interested in these events, you will need to find out when they are held so that you can attend.
Many of the events in this area are associated with shrines. For example, the Amano Iwato Kagura is a festival that runs from November to February. During this time, the locals will dance to invite in deities for a good harvest and ward off demons.
During the summer months, the community also makes sure that the gorge is the star of the show. The entire gorge is illuminated up until 10:00 PM every day during the summer months so that you can enjoy the gorge, day or night.
The southern end of Takachiho Gorge has events every day. For example, there is a freshwater aquarium, fishing pond, souvenir shops, restaurants, and other mainstream attractions that are open most days.
A Closer Look at the Shrines
It cannot be overstated just how beautiful and enriching these shrine experiences are. These shrines run along the river and often include caves. The shrines beautifully incorporate the natural surrounding and the culture of Japan.
If you are interested in the cave associated with Amano Iwato-Jinja Shrine specifically, you will need to be accompanied by a priest.
That’s because the cave is a place of worship and must be treated with respect. The tour guide and priest will walk you down the river pathway to see the shrine and cave.
While you’re walking along, pay attention to the small stone towers. These stone towers have been used to mark sacred power spots.
Planning Your Visit to Takachiho Gorge
If you decide that a trip to Takachiho Gorge should be on your travel lists, you will need to plan your visit.
The two main things you need to worry about are how to get there and whether or not you are spending the night.
Luckily, there are easy ways to plan your trip to Takachiho Gorge.
It is relatively easy to get to Takachiho Gorge. The closest hubs for transportation include Kumamoto and Miyazaki. Both locations offer direct buses, planes, or shinkansen through the area.
You could also drive yourself. Using the toll road, it takes about 2.5 hours from Miyazaki.
No matter which option you select, the area is visited enough that signs are clearly marked. You shouldn’t have any difficulty getting there, especially if you make appropriate plans beforehand.
Spending the Night
If you want to squeeze in all of the sites surrounding Takachiho Gorge, you likely want to stay for the night. There are traditional Japanese hotels, inns, and ryokans around the river.
If you decide to go during the summer, things may be crowded since it is such a popular spot.
Of course, there are also camping options for serious hikers on the Takachiho Course. Because of how long this trek is, this is better for more experienced hikers.
The Perfect Relaxing Day at Takachiho Gorge
If you just want the perfect relaxing day at Takachiho Gorge, it’s best to focus on nature and the culture of the area.
For those who love swimming, we recommend taking a rowboat through the gorge so that you can take in the natural scenery while boating in the water.
If you are uncomfortable rowing or cannot swim, you can take the pathway instead.
This is still a completely relaxing and enjoyable way to view the gorge since you can see all of the natural scenery, including the river below, from the pathway.
The Maruono Tea Garden is something else to consider visiting on your relaxing day. It is a great way to unwind, especially if you enjoy manicured gardens.
This tea garden is surrounded by beautiful scenery and an aesthetic environment so that you can fully relax and reflect on your day.
Take a short trip to one of the shrines as well. These historical and cultural spots are highly relaxing because they are quiet, picturesque, and surrounded by nature.
After your day is done, visit a local restaurant or market. Even though Takachiho Gorge is not surrounded by a major city, there are plenty of traditional Japanese restaurants you can enjoy at the end of the day to cap off your day of relaxation.