How to access to Takachiho by bus. How much can we use Japan Rail Pass?

Takachiho Gorge and Manai Falls (C) JP Rail

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.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

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

Kumamoto-Nobeoka express bus is operated by regular type coach. (at Takamori Chuo) (C) JP Rail

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.

Timetable

As of February 2015, the timetable are the following:

Kumamoto station* 9:11 15:31   Nobeoka ekimae bus center
Nobeoka Station
7:30 15:30
Kumamoto kotsu center* 9:22 15:42   Takachihodori 7:32 15:32
Miso Tenjin* 9:32 15:52   Kawazuru 7:50 15:50
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
Takamori chuo
(arrive)
10:50 17:10   Takamori chuo
(arrive)
9:37 17:37
Takamari chuo
(departure)
11:00 17:20   Takamari chuo
(departure)
9:47 17:47
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
Kawazuru 12:47 19:07   Miso Tenjin* 11:04 19:04
Takachihodori 13:05 19:25   Kumamoto kotsu center* 11:14 19:14
Nobeoka ekimae bus center
Nobeoka Station
13:07 19:27   Kumamoto station* 11:26 19:26

* to Nobeoka via Takachiho — Pick up only / to Kumamot via Takachiho — Drop off only

Rate

Bus stop Kumamoto
station/
Kumamoto
airport
Takchiho Nobeoka
station
Kumamoto
station/
2300 yen 3500 yen
Kumamoto
airport
2100 yen 3450 yen
Takchiho 2300 yen 2100 yen 1740 yen
Nobeoka
station
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

The zone ticket machine is looks like this. (C) Wakkubox GFDL http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">CC-BY-SA-3.0</a>

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.

Bus stops


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.

Takachiho bus center. Ticket window and waiting room in the building. (C) JP Rail

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

Local bus to Nobeoka at Takachiho bus center (C) JP Rail

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.

Timetable

As of April, 2012, the timetable are the following:

Nobeoka > Takachiho   Takachiho > Nobeoka
6:20* > 7:50   5:24 > 6:35
6:40 > 7:59   6:00* > 7:30
7:30 >
Express (same bus as above)
8:31   7:35 > 8:54
8:45* > 10:15   8:15* > 9:45
10:00* > 11:30   9:00 > 10:19
11:00 > 12:19   10:30 > 11:49
11:45 > 13:04   12:09 >
Express (same bus as above)
13:07
12:40* > 14:10   12:25* > 13:55
13:45 > 15:04   13:30 > 14:49
15:05* > 16:35   14:15* > 14:45
15:30 >
Express (same bus as above)
16:31   15:40 > 16:59
16:55 > 18:14   16:30* > 18:00
17:20* > 18:50   17:30 > 18:49
18:15 > 19:34   18:29 >
Express (same bus as above)
19:27
20:00 > 21:11   19:30* > 21:00

* 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.

Fare

One day pass gives you a good deal! (C) JP Rail

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.

Timetable

As of April 13, 2012, the timetable are the following:

Hakata > Takachiho   Takachiho > Hakata
8:03 > 11:35   8:50 > 12:21
10:00 > 13:35   11:00 > 14:31
15:20 > 18:55   16:30 > 19:59
17:20 > 20:55   18:30 > 21:59

This bus service stops at Tenjin bus terminal too.

Fare

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

Kagura for the tourist is performed every night at Takachiho shrine. (C) JP Rail

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.

The hall of Kagura at Takachiho shrine (C) JP Rail

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.

59 thoughts on “How to access to Takachiho by bus. How much can we use Japan Rail Pass?”

  1. Dear Takeshi-san,

    I am going to travel around Kyushu later this Fall. I plan on going from Kumamoto to Kurokawa Onsen on the first day, then from Kurokawa Onsen to Takachiho Gorge on the second day and from Takachiho back to a JR station on the third day (either Kumamoto or Nobeoka). For this trip I plan on using the local bus and JR trains to move around.

    I have heard there has been some disruptions in the local public transport around Mt. Aso after the earthquake in April 2016. I have tried to look for an up-to-date schedule for buses to/from Takachiho online, but so far all my attempts failed. Do you know if the bus schedule has been disrupted much? And if so, where could I find the updated timetable?

    Also, I haven’t figured out how to go from Kurokawa Onsen to Takachiho Gorge, without transfering in Kumamoto. I think it was possible around Mt. Aso area, but probably that is not the case anymore. Would you know an alternative route?

    Thank you for looking into this for me. Kind regards,
    Kim

    1. Hi Kim san,

      Express bus runs between Kumamoto and Nobeoka via Takachiho.
      http://www.miyakoh.co.jp/bus/express/download/n-kumamoto-jikoku-20160708.pdf

      This link shows you Japanese timetable. The first table shows to Kumamoto and the second table is to Nobeoka. I show you only major point schedule.
      Nobeoka 730 – 831 Takachiho 841 – Kumamoto airport 1117 – Kumamoto station 1207
      Nobeoka 1540 – 1641 Takachiho 1651 – Kumamoto airport 1927 – Kumamoto station 2017

      Kumamoto station 911 – Kumamoto airport 1004 – 1243 Takachiho 1253 – Nobeoka 1341
      Kumamoto station 1531 – Kumamoto airport 1624 – 1903 Takachiho 1913 – Nobeoka 2011

      As far as I know, there is no direct public transportation between Takachiho and Kurokawa even in regular condition. When I traveled, I looked for the route between Aso and Takachiho. I could not find even this route. So you have to go back to Kumamoto unfortunately.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you very much for your swift reply! I guess there is no way to avoid going back to Kumamoto to travel between Kurokawa and Takachiho, but at least I can have lunch in the city while waiting between the bus travels. 🙂 Also, thank you for the time table! This specific schedule was really difficult for me to find.

        Kind regards!
        Kim

  2. Hello, are the express bus and local commute bus from Nobeoka to Takachiho both part of Miyazaki Kotsu? I plan to buy the Sun Q bus pass for my trip, and I know it covers Miyazaki Kotsu buses, but I don’t know if the local commute buses are. I would just take the express bus but with my schedule it might be easier to take the local bus, but if it’s not covered by my bus pass then I would need to figure something else out. Thanks!

  3. Hi Takeshi san,

    I am staying at Miyazaki for 2 days. For the first day, I will go to Takachiho Gorge from Yufuin. I was planning to take a JR train from Yufuin to Miyazaki then check in at our hotel (near Miyazaki station) before taking the train to Nobeoka for the bus to Takachiho gorge. The earliest I will reach Miyazaki is around 12.30pm if I take the 8am JR train. However, if I take this method, I will reach Takachiho Gorge at a very late time. I was wondering if I should go straight to Nobeoka from Yufuin instead. Your kind advice would be so appreciated! Also, would you advise that I get the one day pass?

    For day 2, I am planning to go to Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge and Lake Fudo. I will be using the JR Kyushu pass and I will not be driving. Just wanted to know if I can cover these 3 attractions in 2 days?

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Charlene san,

      You must drop by Nobeoka on the way to Miyazaki if you want to go to Takachiho. There is no choices other than this way. One day pass is recommended.
      Actually I have never been Aya Teruha bridge and Lake Fudo. I do not have bus timetable either. So I have no idea how much time you spend to visit these places.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Dear Takeshi

    I plan to travel in Miyazaki on January without JR Kyushu pass but I intend to buy Miyazaki bus one day pass. Is there a bus go to Takachiho from Miyazaki?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi Pang,

      Miyazaki Koutsu Bus has a line between Miyazaki and Nobeoka. But this is an express bus and not covered by one day pass.
      So you have to get Nobeoka station to get a bus to Takachiho. This one day pass does not cover the express bus between Nobeoka and Takachiho either. You can take only local bus from Nobeoka to Takachiho.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hallo, I am going to Takachiho this october by bus from Nobeoka. stay one night in takachiho and then back to Nobeoka. there is only one bus to come back from Takachiho to Nobeoka in the evening? Is it correct?

  6. Hi Jay,

    we are planning a trip from Kumamoto to Takashiho in Sept. Do you know if it is possible to buy a bus ticket through website in advance? Thank you

    Jacky

  7. Hi Takeshi san,

    Referring to the above timetable that you posted, is there only 2buses plying from Nobeoka ekimae center to Takachiho bus center? ( 7.30am & 3.30pm)
    In fact i’m planning a trip to Takachiho from Nobeoka & i’ll reach Nobeoka train station at 10.27am!
    I intend to have only a day trip at Takachiho & then move on to Miyazaki.
    Pls advice.
    Tks

    rgds,
    Yvonne

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Does the 1day unlimited ride pass cover the express bus round trip from Nobeoka St to Takachiho? I’m planning to take the 7.30am & 12.09pm bus respectively.

        rgds,
        Yvonne

          1. Hi Takeshi san,

            Yes, I came across this pass but it seems the point of sale is only in Miyazaki area. But I’m travelling from Nobeoka towards Miyazaki.

            rgds,
            Yvonne

          2. Hi Takeshi san,

            Yes, I came across this pass you mentioned but it seems this pass is only sold at Miyazaki area. I’m travelling from Nobeoka towards Miyazaki. Perhaps, I can use it the next day for my halfday trip in Miyazaki like visiting Udo Jingu Shrine etc.

            As for Takachiho, guess I have no choice but to take the local bus with the 1day unlimited ride pass!

            rgds,
            Yvonne

  8. Hi Jay,

    we are planning a trip from Kumamoto and want to visit the Mt. Aso and Takashiho. Do you know, if the bus schedule is still the same today as you posted it in 2013-11?

    Thank you
    Stephan

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