An hour and a half from Kumamoto, the Takachiho Gorge cuts deep through Southern Kyushuu. Shifting volcanic basalt formed the striated gorge aeons ago, causing early visitors to drawn comparisons with the scales of a dragon. A trip to the gorge allows multiple perspectives on the stunning natural wonder. Whether you want to see it from above or row through it, you’ll get unrivalled experience of the Southern Japanese landscape. Getting there can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the trek for those willing to go a little off the beaten path.
Getting to Takachiho Gorge
The easy part is enjoying the gorge. The hard part is getting there. No trains run between major cities and the gorge, but you can reach it by bus. Catch one from Kumamoto Station and take it to Takachiho Bus Center. From there you can board a tourist bus to the gorge itself. However, the bus only runs on weekends and even then, only four times a day.
If possible, a car is the easiest way to get to Takachiho Gorge. You can take Highway 445 halfway there and then switch to the 218 until you reach Takachiho. The highway winds through the Southern Kyushu mountains until you reach the township. From there you can take local roads the rest of the way. Just be careful of the small and very narrow downhill roads that take you to the gorge. For more specific seasonal information, you can check the official website here.
Exploring on Foot
Once you’ve parked your car, you’ll have two options for exploring Takachiho Gorge. If you prefer to view the gorge on foot, you can walk along the paths that line it. From here you can get great photos of the stony walls of the gorge and the water running through it.
If you visit during the summer months, the gorge is also illuminated. If you’re exploring by foot, you can also visit the nearby aquarium and restaurants at the end of the walking path. Of course, souvenir stands are also in ample supply.
Rowing through Takachiho Gorge
For those that don’t mind risking a bit of water, the experience of rowing through Takachiho Gorge is definitely the best way to experience it. For a small fee, you can rent a boat and spend half an hour rowing through the calm blue-green waters and taking in the gorge from up close.
Of course, you’ll have to be careful of the weather. It was a little bit chilly when I visited in December, but the warmer southern climate means that you should have little trouble enjoying the gorge any time of year.
Getting to Takachiho Gorge is a bit of a challenge, but the cascading waterfalls and calm waters are sure to provide you with pictures and memories that will last the rest of your life. The feeling of tranquility alone makes the effort worthwhile.
Post by Japan Journeys.