Located in the northernmost part of Miyazaki Prefecture, Takachiho town (高千穂町, Takachiho-chō) is a remote area steeped in folklore and Japanese mythology. The area is known for its natural beauty and cultural significance as a “power spot”, a place of profound religious importance with radiant spiritual energy. With few public transportation options and no major highway access, Takachiho best reachable by car, almost three hours from Miyazaki City.
Amano Iwato Shrine
One of the most well-known Japanese mythologies is that of the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, who hid herself in a cave and depriving the world of her life-giving light. The other gods resolved to lure her out, finally succeeding with a raunchy dance that had everyone roaring with laughter, and thereby restoring light to the world. The site of the Amano Iwato shrine (天岩戸神社, Amano Iwato Jinja) was built near the location of the famed cave where the sun goddess hid.
The Amaterasu Railway is a 30-minute railway tour on the disused tracks of what was formerly the Takachiho Railway. The old railway was shut down after typhoon damage in 2005, and a section of the rail has now been converted into a tourist attraction. Over a 2.5km stretch, the custom-built train passes through tunnels and natural landscapes, famous shrines and rice terraces, finally stopping on Takachiho Iron Bridge – once the highest railway bridge in Japan – before reversing back to the station.
The area’s most popular natural attraction is Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō), a narrow chasm cut through the mountains by the Gokase River. The steep cliff sides lining the gorge reveal volcanic basalt columns that are an impressive sight. The 17-meter tall Minainotaki waterfall is especially scenic amongst the dense foliage, and you can rent rowboats to get a closer look and a different perspective of the gorge.