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.

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.


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
10:50 17:10   Takamori chuo
9:37 17:37
Takamari chuo
11:00 17:20   Takamari chuo
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


Bus stop Kumamoto
Takchiho Nobeoka
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

The zone ticket machine is looks like this. (C) Wakkubox GFDL">CC-BY-SA-3.0</a&gt

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.


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)
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)
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.


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.


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.


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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I printed out the Kyushu railway company timetable, but cannot find the route for Nobeoka to Miyazaki. This route is covered by the Kyushu South train pass right? Could you provide me the link to the timetable?
    Could you also provide me the link to the timetable using the Miyazaki bus pass?

  2. I will come to Fukuoka on 14 Nov morning,my plan is as follow

    14 Nov, Fukuoka -Kawachi-Fujien – Fukuoka
    15 Nov , Fukuoka – Takachiko

    pls adv the train for above itin and bus schedule from Fukuoka – Takachiko, since I cant find it in this web
    (As u mention in some above reply

    – do you think better I stay in kumamoto iso fukuoka on 15 nov?
    – is it cheaper for me if I buy SUNQ pass, since I will come back from kumamoto to fukuoka on 18 Nov?

    thank u,

  3. I will be staying in Kagoshima and then moving to Oita. What is the best way to get to Takachiho from Oita? I am afraid we will not have time to visit it from Kagoshima. Please advise on train/bus times from Oita. We want to return to Oita on the same day.

    I may stay one night in Miyazaki and then try to access Takachiho from there.

    We took out Kumamoto from our plans as you cannot see the castle right now due to the earthquake.

    1. Hi Darrell,

      You cannot access to Takachiho from Oita. Miyazaki or Nobeoka is located on the way to Oita from Kagoshima as you know. If you can stay in Miyazaki, it’s better. Even if you have a trip from Oita, you need to access to Nobeoka anyway.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi, I a planning a trip to go to Takachiho Gorge from Fukuoka somewhere in late Oct or early Nov. Where can I buy the ticket and which bus should I take?

      1. Thanks for fast response Takeshi

        Would you recommend us to buy one way tickets or buy the one day pass ticket ?

        Thanks once again.

  5. Hi Takeshi san,

    I am planning a day trip in Takachiho, and depart from Nobeoka. Just wonder if the timetable that you’ve mentioned in the article is still valid, as I couldn’t find it on google map. Also, it would be more economy if I purchase the 1,800 yen bus day pass for a day trip?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Hi Bowie san,

      At this point, this schedule is not valid because there are several closed section due to earthquake in last year. The following schedule in the link below is in Japanese. Please find “延岡バスセンター” (Nobeoka) and “高千穂バスセンター” (Takachiho) in the timetable.

      This bus service is not covered by day pass. You have to pay single fare 1790 yen one way.

      But if you search bus schedule and find other than the bus in the timetable above, it’s regular bus. The bus in the link above is express bus and it’s not covered by day pass. But if you take regular bus, you can use day pass. Express is 15 to 30 minutes faster than regular bus and more comfortable seat.

      By the way, day pass is sold at 1000 yen for overseas tourist.


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        I’m looking for the complete pamphlet coming around with the Miyazaki one day pass. It would be great to have it before our arrival in September.


  6. Hi Takeshi-San,
    You took the bus from Kumamoto at 9:11 and arrived at taka chiho at 12:09.
    I have a timetable says that a 特急バスbus also depart from kumamomo at 9:11 but arrive at taka chiho at 12:49, a 40min later.

    Are they the same bus or the route and time have changed?

    It could be much handy if the bus arrive at 12:09 so I can take the 13:37 bus to amanoiwato, visit the shrine and amamoyasukawara for an hr or so before taking the bus back to taka chiho at 14:28.

    But if my timetable is correct, I can only get back to taka chiho BC at 16:25, I am not sure I have enough time to visit the gorge and watch the dance. Catch taxi may be the only option from taka chiho B.C to amanoiwato shrine , and bus to the gorge.

    The last question: I stay in kumamoto Ekimae, should I catch the bus at jr kumamoto station, not the kotsu station?

    Thanks Takeshi-San.

  7. Hi Takeshi-San,
    I don’t know how I have a copy of direct bus timetable between miyazaki station and taka chiho station as well as the shrine, the bus number is 538, one round trip each (8:40miyazaki-11:20takachiho and 15:05takachiho-18:02miyazaki).
    That’s all the information I got.
    Do you know is it still available and how much it cost?
    Also I want to make sure that the ¥1800 day pass is cover the express and local bus in Miyazaki as well as the route between nobeoka and taka chiho, the ¥1000 day pass is for local bus only and exclude the above route; ¥1730 is for local bus and ¥1790 for ex press bus.
    Is that right?


          1. In fact, I visited Kyushu a few years back, but I have to forgo takachiho gorge due to a packed itin. However, I wish to visit it again if possible!
            but I might be coming from Nagasaki or Unzen onsen area, I m not sure would there be a better and more efficient method to come here?

          2. Hi JJ,

            You have to access to Kumamoto anyway. This is only gateway from western part of Kyushu. If you access to Takachiho from Nagasaki via Kumamoto, you will take a bus in the afternoon. In this case, you need to stay in Takachiho because arrival time in Takachoi is around 19:00. If you want to take a bus to Takachiho in the morning, you have to leave Nagasaki around 6:30 am. If you can make this train schedule, you can visit Takachiho and can proceed to Nobeoka.


            Takeshi /

          3. sniff sniff, yes…I expected that….I would do it in a way to arrive Takachiho in the morning instead

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