Takachiho (高千穂) is known as the land of Japanese Mythology (日本神話). There are lots of shrines and places that are related to Mythology. And also Takachiho Gorge is one of the “Must-See” spot in southern Kyushu area.
I visited there in mid March, 2012. I would like to share my experience with you. I hope this will be helpful for your trip to Takachino.
My itinerary and summary of access to Takachiho
View Trip to Takachiho in a larger map
You cannot access to Takachiho by any railway service now. We need to get on the bus. Now we can access to Takachiho from three cities in Kyushu, Kumamoto, Nobeoka and Hakata (博多). We can use Japan Rail Pass to access to those three cities. But Japan Rail Pass do not cover any bus service to Takachiho.
In my trip, I got on Airport shuttle bus from Kumamoto (熊本) station to Kumamoto airport. (We can get on Express bus to Takachiho. But I need to join my mother at the airport. So I took the bus to airport.) And then I got on the express bus to Takachiho. On next day, I got on the commute bus from Takachiho to Nobeoka. My itinerary is the following:
March 17, 2012
08:00 Depart from Kumamoto station bus stop by Airport shuttle bus
08:53 Arrive at Kumamoto airport.
10:04 Depart from Kumamoto airport by Express bus to Nobeoka via Takachiho
12:09 Arrive at Takachiho bus center
I visited Takachiho shrine, Takachiho Gorge, Amanoiwato shrine and Amanoyasukawara.
I watched Kagura in the evening.
March 18, 2012
08:15 Depart from Takachiho bus center by local bus to Nobeoka
09:45 Arrive at Nobeoka station
Takachiho Railway used to operate the passengers train service between Nobeoka (延岡) and Takachiho. But the truck received huge damage by Typhoon in 2005. It could not be recovered due to financial shortage. I saw some old trucks along the road side.
I explain about the details of these bus services.
From Kumamoto station and Kumamoto airport to Nobeoka station via Takachiho
There are joint express bus service to Nobeoka via Takachiho by Kyushu Sanko bus and Miyazaki Kotsu bus. Since it is very easy to access by Kyushu Shinkansen from Hakata and Osaka, the bus from Kumamoto is most popular way to get Takachiho.
They operate only two round tips a day. Once you miss the bus in the morning, you must wait for next bus until late afternoon. They don’t take a reservation. When I got on this bus in mid March, I worried about the seat. But there were a few passengers in the bus. I checked several travel forum. It is very rare that the bus is full in even high season. Most of the motorcoach in Japan have spare seat on the isle. You don’t need to worry about the seat.
The coach do not equip a washroom. The bus stop at Takamori Chuo for 5 to 10 minutes. You can take a break at this stop. But if you take a bus from Kumamoto station, you will not have a chance to go to washroom for 1.5 hour.
As of November 2013, the timetable are the following:
|Kumamoto station*||9:11||15:31||Nobeoka ekimae bus center
|Kumamoto kotsu center*||9:22||15:42||Takachihodori||7:32||15:32|
|Suizenji koen mae*||9:35||15:55||Funenoo||8:03||16:03|
|Kumamoto kencho mae*||9:38||15:58||Seiunbashi||8:09||16:09|
|Jieitai mae*||9:41||16:01||Takachiho bus center||8:31||16:31|
|Higashimachi chuo*||9:42||16:02||Gokasecho Yakuba ame||8:53||16:53|
|Mashiki interguchi*||9:46||16:06||Mamihara nakazuru||9:02||17:02|
|Aso Kumamoto airport*||10:04||16:24||Soyou sogo shisho mae||9:12||17:12|
|Kugino chosha mae||10:32||16:52||Nisemoto irigchi||9:16||17:16|
|Nisemoto irigchi||11:21||17:41||Kugino chosha mae||10:05||18:05|
|Soyou sogo shisho mae||11:25||17:45||Aso Kumamoto airport*||10:36||18:36|
|Mamihara nakazuru||11:35||17:55||Mashiki interguchi*||10:51||18:51|
|Gokasecho Yakuba ame||11:44||18:04||Higashimachi chuo*||10:54||18:54|
|Takachiho bus center||12:09||18:29||Jieitai mae*||10:55||18:55|
|Seiunbashi||12:28||18:48||Kumamoto kencho mae*||10:58||18:58|
|Funenoo||12:34||18:54||Suizenji koen mae*||11:01||19:01|
|Takachihodori||13:05||19:25||Kumamoto kotsu center*||11:14||19:14|
|Nobeoka ekimae bus center
* to Nobeoka via Takachiho — Pick up only / to Kumamot via Takachiho — Drop off only
|-||-||2300 yen||3500 yen|
|-||-||2100 yen||3450 yen|
|Takchiho||2300 yen||2100 yen||-||1740 yen|
|3500 yen||3450 yen||1740 yen||-|
*Child rate (6-11 years) is half price of above rate.
How to buy a ticket and pay bus fare in the bus
You can buy a ticket at the following locations:
- Kumamoto station information center (9:00-16:00)
- Kumamoto kotsu center (6:40-22:00)
- Kumamoto airport (vending machine)
- Takachiho bus center (8:30-17:00)
- Nobeoka station bus center (9:00-17:30)
Otherwise you can pay by cash in the bus. There is a money changer beside driver seat. Exchange the bill and prepare an exact fare before getting off the bus. But 5000 yen bill and 10000 yen bill cannot be changed in the bus. Either purchasing a ticket or paying fare in the bus, fare zone ticket when you get on the bus. The ticket machine is located at the entrance door.
View Kumamoto station bus stops in a larger map
If you take a bus at Kumamoto statin, the bus depart from bus stop #3. Exit from Shirakawaguchi (白川口) exit at Kumamoto station. When you exit the station, you will see JR Kyushu Kumamoto Hotel (light brown colored 10 story building) on your right side. Bus stop #3 is located behind this building. If you want to buy a ticket before ride, you need to go to information center beside bus stop #1. You may see Hotel New Otani on your left side at the Shirakawaguchi exit. Informatiion is located beside this hotel. Don’t expect the building. Information center is a small booth. Both bus stop #1 and #3 (information center) are located within 50m from the Shirakawaguchi exit. Don’t worry. You can’t miss it.
If you stay in Kumamoto, you may be able to take a bus at Kumamoto kotsu center (熊本交通センター). The downtown core of Kumamoto is not located at the station. It is near Kumamoto castle. Kumamoto kotsu center is located in the heart of downtown Kumamoto. Your hotel may be closer to Kumamoto kotsu center than Kumamoto station. If you take a bus here, the bus stops at bay #6. Please see the map on the right and make sure locations.
If you take a bus at Kumamoto airport, the bus stop is located near arrival exit. The ticket vending machine is located at outside of domestic terminal building. It is very small machine. If you cannot find it, ask information desk at the airport.
In Takachiho, you will get off the bus at Takachiho bus center first. You can find it when you get on the bus. Takachiho is very well known spot in Kyushu. But it is not spoiled. You will not see many tourist gift shops and restaurants around bus center. You may be perplexed.
If you take a bus at Nobeoka, the bus center is just located in front of the station. It is quite easy because Nobeoka station has only one exit. You can’t miss it!
From Nobeoka station to Takachiho
Nobeoka is the closest JR station from Takachiho. But if you access to Takachiho from the places other than Miyazaki, Beppu or Oita, Kumamoto is more convenient because of Shinkansen. Nobeoka is located at the east coast of Kyushu island in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is 4 hours away from Hakata by limited express Sonic and Nichirin. But Kumamoto is only 40 minutes away from Hakata by Kyushu Shinkansen Sakura. So if you will trip to Takachiho and other places along the east coast Kyushu, Nobeoka is the right place to access to Takachiho. But if you want to go just Takachiho, you need to consider about the round trip between Kumamoto and Takachiho.
If you get on the bus at Nobeoka station bus center, there are some more bus on top of express bus services between Nobeoka and Kumamoto. Other than express bus services are operated by common commute bus. This is not a highway motor coach. Some of the bus take by-pass road. Other bus service take an old road. If you take a bus that takes an old route, it takes 30 more minutes.
As of April, 2012, the timetable are the following:
Express (same bus as above)
Express (same bus as above)
Express (same bus as above)
Express (same bus as above)
* This mark means the bus service that take an old route.
The earliest and latest bus services are not scheduled on Sat, Sun and Holidays.
It is 1,740 yen between Nobeoka and Takachiho. It is same fare as an express bus service. Please see the above about purchasing ticket and paying fare in the bus. It is same rule as an express bus.
If you have a round trip from Nobeoka to Takachiho, purchase one day unlimited ride pass. The pass gives you unlimited ride on Miyazaki Kotsu local buses at 1,800 yen. It is almost same price as one way fare! Actually I had a trip to Nobeoka from Takachiho and Miyazaki to Udo Jingu on same day. I forgot to buy this pass. This was a huge mistake! You can purchase this pass at Nobeoka station bus center, Takachiho bus center, Miyazaki station bus center and many more places in Miyazaki prefecture.
From Hakata station and Tenjin bus terminal to Takachiho
I have never got on this bus service. This express bus service is operated by both Miyazaki Kotsu and Nishitetsu Bus co. It takes 3 hours 30 minutes. There are four round trips a day. This is operated by highway motor coach that equip a washroom. You must make a reservation when you get on this service. But I could not find any English information in both Nishitetsu website and Miyazaki Kotsu weibsite.
As of April 13, 2012, the timetable are the following:
This bus service stops at Tenjin bus terminal too.
The fare is 3910 yen between Takachiho and Hakata station/Tenjin. This bus service is operated between Hakata and Nobeoka. But we cannot use this bus service for Takachiho-Nobeoka transfer.
Tips in Takachiho
As I mentioned above, Takachiho is not spoiled. I stayed at Hotel Grateful Takachiho. This hotel has nothing special. But this is one of a few western style hotels in Takachiho. It is the newest hotel there. So it is clean and neat.
When you go to Takachiho Gorge, you need to go down the hill for 1.5 km from Takachiho shrine. It is a paved road and takes about 20 minutes. But you need to go up the hill on the way back. I went there with my mother. She almost gave up. But we went down. Hopefully we could get a cab down there. So if you don’t want to go up the hill on foot, take a taxi from the town and ask driver to pick you up later. I strongly recommend you to go this point. This was a breathtaking view. You can enjoy the view from the trail or on the rental boat. There are some souvenir shops and restaurants. This spot is spoiled.
Takachiho Gorge and Takachiho shrine are located in town of Takachiho. But other spots, like Amanoiwato shrine, are a bit away from town of Takachiho. I took a taxi from Takachiho Gorge to Amanoiwato shrine. The fare was 2200 yen.
If you stay overnight in Takachiho, you cannot miss Kagura (神楽). It is Shinto native dance. Original Kagura is performed all through the night. But short version Kagura is performed at Takachiho shrine every night. It takes jst one hour from 20:00 and admission is 500 yen per person. This is very interesting and one of popular attraction in Takachiho. But if you see this without any knowledge about Shinto and Japanese Mythology, it might be boring. All performances look same.
If you are not interesting in Kagura, you don’t need to stay in Takachiho and transfer to Kumamoto or Miyazaki. Nobeoka is the closet city from Takachiho. But Nobeoka is one of those small cities in Kyushu. If you don’t want to go to Kumamoto, take a train to Miyazaki from Nobeoka. Miyazaki is one hour away from Nobeoka by limited express Nichirin. This express train is covered by Japan Rail Pass fully. I got on this train after I arrived at Nobeoka. And I visited Udo Jingu shrine and got on the popular train Umisachi-Yamasachi. I would like to write about access to Udo Jingu shrine in next post.
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