Located deep within the mountains of Miyazaki Prefecture is the scenic Takachiho Gorge. The gorge has been designated as one of the National Scenic Natural Monuments in Japan, owing its accolades to the impressive waterfalls and vibrant autumn foliage surrounding the area. Visitors to Takachiho Gorge often enjoy the scenery while paddling through the valley on a rental boat, allowing a close-up view of the 17-meter Manai Waterfall and volcanic columns surrounding the area.
Takachiho Gorge was formed as a result of the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Aso, in Kumamoto Prefecture. You can see the volcanic origins of Takachiho from its basalt column cliffs lining the insides of the gorge. The almost medieval appearance of the columns contrasted with the brilliant blue waters of the valley makes Takachiho Gorge one of the most beautiful sites in Kyushu.
Nearby, you can also find the sacred Amano Iwato Shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. A rental car is recommended should you wish to visit multiple sites within a day, due to the infrequency of local buses in the area.
During winter, the Manai Falls are illuminated as part of the annual Shinto Takachiho Kamiakari light-up event held at the gorge.
3-hour local bus from Kumamoto City
From Miyazaki city, take a 1-hour train ride to Nobeoka (via JR Nippo Line), followed by a 1-hour bus ride to Takachiho.