Another day trip from Fukuoka, we went to go check out Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō). I had seen pictures of this place and it looked beautiful. Only a short 3 hour drive away from Fukuoka! The drive up in the mountains reminded me of Northern California. It was a little rainy but so green and luscious.
After parking, we went to explore our options around the area. There was a small freshwater aquarium that had tanks filled with fish/species you'd find in the local river and ponds. (see pics below) Also a few food stands, souvenir shops, and houses, but not much else. It was pretty tranquil overall.
Unfortunately for us, there was a big rain storm the day before. This caused the water / river to look brown from all the dirt and silt, and for us not to have an option to rent a boat and paddle down the river. #ofcourse #justourluck We still wanted to make the most of it since we had driven all this way. One of our first sites was the famous Manai Falls - one of Japan's 100 Most Beautiful Waterfalls, plunging 20 meters into the river below.
Some fun facts about Takachiho Gorge. It was formed over 100,00 years ago after volcanic eruptions from the Mount Aso area. Over time, the ash from this eruption eroded to create 80 - 100 meter tall basalt columns with lush greenery on top of them, as well as a beautiful, turquoise Gokase River running between (as long as it's not raining!) The Gokase River ranges from 3 - 100 meters wide in places throughout the mountains.
There are 2 ways tourists can explore this area, land, or boats in the river. We only had one option the day we chose to go, so by land it was! The path goes on for about 1 kilometer along the sides of the river, eventually ending at the Takachiho Shrine. There are lots of different vantage points from along the walkway and the sites along the way were impressive. (Especially when the water is clean, and in the autumn when the leaves are changing it's also supposed to be gorgeous!)
Along the route we saw Kihachi no Chikaraishi, a big 200-ton rock, estimated to be as tall as 3 meters high. According to legends, it was thrown by a demon known for his evil deeds, Kihachi. An ancient god, Mikenuno-Mikoto came after him, so Kihachi threw the rock to show off how powerful he was.
The greenery along the way seemed to pop on the gloomy, gray day that we were visiting, which made the scenery even more beautiful. We saw cool rock formations, old bridges, and finished our hike at the Takachiho Three-Stage Bridge (Takachiho Sandan-Bashi). This bridge is made up of Shinbashi Bridge (nearest / lowest) and Takachiho Bridge from the Showa era, and Shinto Takachiho Bridge (furthest) from the Heisei era.
We were also on a time crunch. We had to get down the hill and get to Kumamoto for a Japanese baseball game. I had been to one in April with Nate's family when they came to visit (see what makes a Japanese baseball game unique in my blog post here), but it was Nate's first time and I was excited to show him how fun they were!
My favorite part of the game, 7th inning stretch balloon time!!!
If you have time, Kumamoto is famous for it's castle, where the samurai made their last stand in the Battle of Shiroyama in 1877 (also featured in the movie "The Last Samurai"). We did not get to visit because the castle was closed for damages due to a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that hit the city on 16 April 2016.
After our eventful road trip of a day, we headed back into Fukuoka for one more full day in the city before heading back to Okinawa.
Follow in our Footsteps:
Mukoyama, Takachiho, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki 882-1103, Japan
Illuminated in the summer months until 22:00
Boat Rental: 8:30am-5pm, cost 2,000 yen for 30 min boat ride (3 people per boat) - located near the south of the gorge
Fujisakidai Ken'ei Yakyujo
4-1, Miyauchi, Chuo-ku, Kukamoto-shi, Kumamoto
Buy Softbank Hawk tickets or look for events at the stadium here
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!