The Religious and Natural Wonders of Takachiho in Japan

Takachiho Japan Guide

Takachiho Japan Map

This city, also known as Takachiho-cho, is the northernmost city in the Miyazaki prefecture. It is a part of the Kyushu region of Japan which is located in the southern portion of the country. Since it is located on the border, a number of people already confuse this as a part of the neighboring Kumamoto prefecture. The total land area of the city is about 230 square kilometers and the total population is about 12,000.

The town is popular for its myths and legends – a home to gods and goddesses of Japan. The natural wonders in the area are one of the evidence, people believe, that proves it was home for the gods at one time in Japan’s history.

Weather in Takachiho Japan

Since the prefecture is located in the southernmost portion of the country, it is only understandable that it experiences a very humid subtropical climate. Most parts of the year, the city experiences rainy weather with significant rainfall during the winter months. The average temperature of the area is about 13 degree Celsius. For those who wish to visit Takachihocho, it must be remembered that even though it rarely snows in the area the temperatures at night during wintertime can go as low as 1 degree Celsius.

Travel Tips of Takachiho in Miyazaki Japan

Hotel Takachiho Japan

There are a number of hotels to stay in when traveling to Takachiho Japan. However, it must be remembered that some of these hotels may always be fully booked especially those areas located near the gorge. Booking a room when going to Takachiho must be done in advanced at all times of the year.

Traveler favorites would be ryokans which are located on the outskirts of the city, most of these are traditional ryokans with tatami mat rooms and futons. These are for relaxing after a day’s worth of hiking and other activities. Among the most popular places for accommodation would be the Imakuni Ryokan, Ryokan Yamatoya, and the Hotel Shikimi.

Transportation around Takachiho

The nearest airport in Takachiho would be the Kumamoto Airport which is an airport both for international and domestic travel. Anyone can go around the city through the Takachiho railway which has the Amano Iwata station and Takachiho station. There are also roads around the city that can take an individual from one place to another via bus or porter.

The Pride and Glory of Takachiho


There are a number of schools located in Takachiho that place in national rankings in Japan. These are public elementary and high schools which are performing well against other public schools in the country. The education system in Japan is one of the most impressive in the world where they focus on subject matter such as science and technology. They hone the skills and knowledge of their children in this subject matter. The schools are very strict and also enforces a strict code of discipline. This teaches young Japanese individuals about responsibility and respect.

Culture and Religion

The city has a very mythical origin where many locals believe that the place is a home for the gods. It is a place where Amaterasu, along with other gods like Ameno Uzume, had lived for a time which is why it features the Amano Iwato shrine and the Takachiho Shrine.

This is also the place where Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu, had descended the earth. This god was tasked to plant rice in the fields of Takachihocho to provide bounty and prosperity for its inhabitants, this is why there are beliefs that rice terraces hidden in the mountainside of Takachihocho are known to be of natural, godly origins.

It is believed that this god, Ninigi, who had taken the form of man was the great-grandfather of Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan. This is why it is believed that Japanese emperors are gods because it is said that they have godly origins, particularly from Amaterasu. Emperor Jimmu had changed the course of Japan’s history as he was recognized as the first national ruler of the unified islands.

Natural Wonders in Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan

Chichibu Cedars

It is very common for tourists and travelers to visit Japan just to witness the bloom of Cherry blossoms during spring. Sometimes, they also visit Japan just to see the autumn foliage where the leaves of maple change to its fiery red color. However, these are not the only popular trees in the country. One place in Takachiho in Japan features what are known as Chichibu Cedars. These are 800-year-old trees which have grown to impressively towering heights.

The most popular out of these cedar trees is known as the “couple cedar” in the Takachiho Shrine whose trunks are twisted and intertwined with each other. They are called as the “couple cedar” because they look like husband and wife. It is believed that couples who walk around the trees while holding hands will be blessed with prosperity. It is also believed that it will bring a strong bond to the relationship which would be difficult to break or tarnish.

Tokubetsuto Rice Terraces

This is one of the most beautiful and relaxing mountainside sceneries in Takachiho in Japan. Coming from an exhausting winding road on the mountains comes a relaxing scenery of lush greens from rice. Witnessing the beauty of the Tokubetsuto rice terrace is a sure way to appreciate the simplicity of nature and life.

A lot of people believe that the rice terraces is a geological formation, however since rice is a staple in Japan, it is only understandable and logical to believe that it is actually man-made. Regardless of its origins, the rice terraces in the mountainside of Takachiho is still a refreshing sight to behold.

Takachiho Gorge Japan

The most popular tourist destination in all of the Takachiho in Japan would be the Takachiho Gorge – a small valley that opens up to a hidden gem of pristine waters. It is located on the Gokase river which was scientifically formed by flowing lava for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. One of the main highlights of the gorge would be the 17-meter waterfall which creates a magical cloud of mist as it falls to the water below.

Takachiho Gorge Japan Guide: Things to Do

One way to reach the Takachiho gorge would be to row a boat towards it. This is a great experience for those who love water sports a view from the bottom makes one feel tiny between the gigantic columns of rock from the cliffs. The water from the river is quite calm, so people can really enjoy the relaxing scenery. This experience also allows an up-close view of the waterfall. Boat rentals usually cost about 2,000 yen per ride.

Another way to reach the Takachiho gorge would be to hike the pathways that would lead to the gorge from the top. This trip, where the pathway is only one kilometer long, is quite short and can be exclusive for people who are doing a mere side trip to this area.

After enjoying a view of the gorge, people can enjoy the small aquarium in the location that features all the marine life and ecosystem of the river. Or another option would be to continue the walking path towards the Takachiho Shrine. There are also souvenir shops and restaurants for visitors.

Takachiho Waterfalls in Japan

Manai Falls

Considered as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan, the Manai Falls is the main attraction of the Takachiho gorge. It is a 17-meter high drop where water originates from the Onokoro Pond down to the green Gokase river. As the water falls into the river below, a cloud of mist is produced creating a kind of mysterious and magical feel to the area. This is one of the reasons why many people choose to visit.

It is said that it would be best to visit the Manai falls via boat rentals as it will take visitors up close. Swimming is discouraged in the location due to the deep waters, but the view in itself does not disappoint. However, for those who wish to enjoy the scenery, it would be the best to visit early because hundreds of visitors tend to queue to the boat rentals every day.

Tamatare Falls

Compared to the Manai Falls, the Tamatare falls is much more accessible. It is much smaller than the Manai falls but is made up of multiple drops. Roughly, there are about eight falls of varying sizes that rush down over the cliff. It is right by the side of the road and has fewer visitors than the Manai Falls.

By Hirase (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Based on reports from travelers and locals, the reason why this is not as popular as the Manai falls is the fact that the amount of rushing water varies on a day to day basis. There are days when the rush of water is strong while there are others when water is not visible and it looks like ordinary rocks on a cliff.

Religious Wonders in Takachiyo Japan

Ama-no-Iwato Shrine

The town of Takachiho actually plays a very important role in the myths and legends of Japan. It is believed that the Shinto sun goddess known as Amaterasu had hidden in a cave one day depriving the world of light due to a feud with her cruel brother. As the world needed her luster, the news of her hiding soon spread out and many have tried to entice and appeal for her to go out of the cave. Until one day, a goddess performed a dance that amused all other gods creating fun and laughter. Out of curiosity, Amaterasu wanted to find out what all the fuss was about and finally went out of hiding.

By N yotarou (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

To honor this precious moment, a shrine was built beside the cave where Amaterasu hid in. This is a beautiful natural wonder that had turned into a place of pilgrimage for the religious. Around the location are stacked stone that adds to the zen feel of the area.

Takachiho Shrine

The news that Amaterasu hid in a cave to hide away from her cruel brother immediately spread to other gods, according to the story. They met each other in a sacred place to come up with ways to finally lure the goddess out of darkness. This particular site is believed to be the place where the Takachiho shrine was built.

The shrine is located at the center of the city and is one of the most accessible tourist attractions of the area. A night dance is performed in this shrine from November to February, during the time when the sun rarely comes out during the wintertime. This is a commemoration of the time Amaterasu hid away into a cave.


This is a place on top of mountains which is a great way, not only to appreciate nature but also evaluate a person’s life. This place, the kunimigaoka, has an observation deck here the peaks of Mount Aso can be clearly seen. On the summit, there is a sea of clouds which will give any person a perspective of how high the place is.

It is best to visit the area during early morning for sunrise or late in the afternoon for sunset. The reflection of the sunlight on the clouds gives a warm and inspiring feel. The panoramic view is just spectacular – Mount Aso, Mount Sobo, Mt. Futagami can all be seen from the peak of the Kunimigaoka.

Yokagura dance

The Yokagura dance, or night dance, is the series of steps performed by a goddess in front of other gods and goddesses as they try to encourage Amaterasu to step out of the cave. It is a one hour show consisted of a total of 33-episodes. This episode usually predict the quarrel between Amaterasu and her brother up to the impromptu performance of the goddess The actors and actresses adorn a mask for their performance, together with the elaborate costume would be traditional music. Chanting is also mostly observed as a means to appease the gods.