Takachiho Gorge is a must see for any trip through Kyushu in Japan. This beautiful chasm and waterfall is a masterpiece of nature, worth seeing year-round.
Over 100,000 years ago, Mount Aso exploded and sent a large, fast-moving lava flow that cooled rapidly and created the stunning rock formations of Takachiho Gorge. The Gokase river has since carved this beautiful area into what it is today. The rock formations, waterfalls, and foliage draw tourists from all over the world each year for these views.
Hike along the river to see the dramatic landscape and striking foliage. It is an easy hike, but every new bend in the gorge will have you craning your neck in amazement.
This type of rock is columnar basalt. Its pattern comes from lava rapidly cooling, and the designs throughout the gorge make Sandankyo’s rock formations seem almost boring (for the record Sandankyo is not boring)!
Takachiho Gorge and it’s beautiful waterfall can be appreciated close-up by boat! The waters are calm and the boats are easy to maneuver. Row yourself to the 17-meter waterfall and you will get a great appreciation for why Manai Falls is the symbol of the gorge!
The dock is located on the south end of the gorge. If you are near the pond with the koi fish you just need to cross the road and follow signs to the boat area. When you walk through the parking lot you will see a small building in front of the bathrooms that says boat information.
You can buy your tickets there – if they are still selling them. Depending on the crowds, they can close early after having sold tickets in advance! We recommend coming early and getting the tickets right away, then going to enjoy the views and hike.
In the area
This area is known as the Land of the Gods. Along with this small hike and beautiful gorge there are several other hikes nearby.
We also visited Mount Aso the same day we came here. Not advisable on a holiday due to the crowds, but on a normal day I think it would be ok. The drives through the countryside were breathtaking, especially during the fall; it was a wonderful part of our koyo (fall colors) trip!
Plan your trip
Make sure you check to see if it is a Japanese holiday the day you plan on visiting. This will greatly affect the wait times for the boats at the gorge.
We were able to park really close for ¥300. Other places farther up the top of the gorge were less expensive but only by about ¥100. It was well worth the money to park closer to the entrances and not have to hike down the long, steep road to get to the trail.