Carved by the Gokase River, Takachiho Gorge is a narrow chasm north of Miyazaki near the volcanic summit of Mount Aso. It was formed over hundreds of years as lava flowed from the volcano, resulting in the impressive basalt columns that are said to resemble the scales of a dragon.
Follow the paved path that hugs the edge of Takachiho Gorge and offers magnificent views of the cliffs and the river snaking below. The path continues to the Takachiho Shrine, which is found in a grove of cedars and has strong associations with the Shinto sun goddess in Japanese mythology.
Alternatively, rent a boat at the southern end of the gorge and navigate the tranquil Gokase River to view the 17-metre-high Minainotaki Waterfall. Admire the lush green foliage that cascades down the gorge’s stark grey cliffs or visit during autumn to see the leaves changing colours.
Takachiho Gorge is around 30 minutes’ walk from Takachiho Bus Center and can also be accessed by local buses. It’s around two hours’ drive from Kumamoto and 1.5 hours from Kumamoto Airport.