Takachiho Gorge is one of those places that you see on the front cover of a glossy magazine advertising travelling to Japan’s natural wonders. And then when you get there and see it with your own eyes, you quickly realise… it looks exactly as on these glossy advertisements!
Spending a whole day in Takachiho allowed us to take in all the scenic marvels – some of which we had heard about before and some that were a complete surprise to us. Let us introduce you to the five highlights of Takachiho to make sure you don’t miss out on these incredible sights when travelling to Kyushu!
If you travel through Miyazaki prefecture, stopping by Takachiho Gorge is a must! The views are absolutely stunning and it’s no wonder that Japanese mythology stories evolved here. We would definitely recommend skipping the boat as it’s expensive, often crowded and doesn’t go very far; and instead embark on an easy nature walk around the gorge, which takes about 20-30 minutes one way and can be extended depending on your adventure-seeking level.
Amano Yasukawara (Cave) Shrine
When I last returned to Germany to see friends and family, someone had asked me ‘Don’t all Japanese temples look the same? Doesn’t it get boring after a while?’ The answer is definitely no! Amano Yasukawara Shrine is something we’ve never seen or experienced before. After walking past the main shrine by the forest entrance, you can follow a little path along the gorge that brings you to a small gate in a cave – the atmosphere is unimaginable! Even though there were quite a few other tourists there when we came, everyone was really respectful and gave each other room to soak up the mystical and spiritual energy and just be in the moment at that special place. No wonder, again, that this is one of the key locations in Japanese mythology!
Unfortunately, more and more rural towns in Japan lose their inhabitants to the larger cities which results in local train lines being suspended. In the case of the Takachiho Railway line, a huge typhoon hit that region in 2005 and caused two bridges on the railway line to be washed away and with no government funding available, this meant the end of Takachiho Railway line.
However, to make sure that tourists can still enjoy the award-winning views over the rice terraces and the gorge, a new sightseeing train has started operating, so you can experience going along the old train tracks. The whole setup is really cute, with lovely train conductor staff who introduce the scenery, release soap bubbles for a special effect over the mountains and portray a small light show in the tunnels. If you like scenic train journeys in general, don’t give this one a miss!
Kunimigaoka – Michelin Star Views
The early bird catches the worm is definitely not one of our life mottos, but when we came across this view point on Google Maps, we made sure to get up early and hoped for a glimpse of a sea of clouds! Well, apparently you get the best clouds in September/October, but we have to say this 360 view was still one of the best ones we’ve ever seen! As we stayed in Takachiho for two nights, we returned to this viewpoint a second time to take in the breathtaking views on more time before leaving Takachiho.
Award-Winning Rice Terraces
Have you seen promotional videos of Japanese rice terraces? It’s very likely that these were shot in Miyazaki prefecture, as it has so many outstanding rice field views. The cool thing about them is that they just completely change their look depending on the weather and the season, as they can be seen filled with water and in all varieties of green. We’ve actually lost count on how many rice fields we visited in the end in and near Takachiho as we just couldn’t get enough of them!
And lastly, what would a day in the Japanese countryside be without soaking your weary bones in a hot onsen bath? Although Takachiho Onsen is quite simple, we liked it due to its’ local atmosphere, views onto flowers beds and the overall cleanliness. (I was also lucky to be the only one in the onsen and was able to take a few photos for the first time!)
Have you been to Miyazaki Prefecture? What are your highlights?
PS: Rumour has it that tourists will be able to enter Japan from June 2022!
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