How to access to Takachiho

2012 spring trip to Kyushu
Takachiho Gorge and Manai Falls (C) JP Rail
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Takachiho Gorge and Manai Falls (C) JP Rail

Takachiho is known as the land of Japanese mythology. There are lots of shrines and places that are related to the mythology. And also Takachiho Gorge is one of the “Must-See” spots 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.

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My itinerary and summary of access to Takachiho


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Hotels in Takachiho, Japan
Hotels in Kumamoto, Japan
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You cannot access to Takachiho by any train services. There are several bus routes available. You can access to Takachiho from three cities in Kyushu, Kumamoto, Nobeoka and Hakata. The rail passes, such as JR Pass and Kyushu Rail Pass cover to access to those three cities only. You have to pay extra for these bus services to Takachiho.

But if you use Sun-Q Pass, it is covered. Sun-Q Pass is the bus pass which covers most bus services in Kyushu. Please see the link below to find the detailed information:

Sun-Q Pass (official site)

In my trip, I got on Airport shuttle bus from Kumamoto station to Kumamoto airport. I could catch the express bus to Takachiho at Kumamoto station. But I had to meet 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 was 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 and Takachiho. But the truck was damaged by the typhoon in 2005. It was not recovered due to a financial issue. I saw some old trucks along the roadside when I traveled there. But now the small sightseeing train service “Super Cart” runs between Takachiho and Takachiho bridge. Takachiho bridge was the highest railway bridge. You can enjoy the amazing scenery from this train. Unfortunately they have only Japanese website. But I put the link below for your convenience.

Super Cart (Amaterasu Railway) official site

From Kumamoto station and Kumamoto airport to Nobeoka station via Takachiho

Kumamoto-Nobeoka express bus is operated by a regular type fleet. (C) JP Rail

There is a joint express bus service to Nobeoka via Takachiho by Kyushu Sanko bus and Miyazaki Kotsu bus. Since Kumamoto is very accessible by Kyushu Shinkansen from Hakata and Osaka, Kumamoto is most common gateway to get Takachiho.

Please see Sanko Bus official site to get a timetable and a faretable.

Kyushu Sanko Bus official site (English site)

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. Reservation was not required when I took this bus service but it does now. If you do not make a reservation, you may take a bus if the bus has an unoccupied seat. However Takachiho has been getting popular in these days. Advanced reservation is highly recommended.

Please see the link below to find a reservation site.

Kyushu Bus Network Portal Site (@ Bus)

This coach does not equip a washroom. The bus stop at Takamori Chuo for 5 to 10 minutes in the middle of Kumamoto and Takachiho. You can take a break at this stop. If you take a bus from Kumamoto station, you do not have a chance to go to washroom for 1.5 hour.

Bus stops


View Kumamoto station bus stops in a larger map

If you take a bus at Kumamoto station, the bus depart from bus stop #3. Exit from Shirakawaguchi exit at Kumamoto station. When you exit the station, you will see JR Kyushu Kumamoto Hotel (light brown colored 10 stories 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. Information 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. The downtown of Kumamoto is actually not located near the station. It is near Kumamoto castle. Kumamoto Kotsu Center is located in the middle 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.

In Takachiho, all bus stop at Takachiho bus center.

If you catch 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 cannot miss it.

From Nobeoka station to Takachiho

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

Nobeoka is the nearest station from Takachiho. But Nobeoka is not very accessible from other places unless you get Nobeoka from Miyazaki or Oita. 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.

If you get on a bus at Nobeoka station bus center, there are some more trips by a local commute bus on top of express bus services between Nobeoka and Kumamoto. It runs once an hour almost all day.

The fare is 1,790 yen between Nobeoka and Takachiho. It is exactly same fare as an express bus service. Since this is the local commute bus, reservation is not required.

Visit Miyazaki Bus Pass

If you take this local bus, I recommend you to purchase one day unlimited ride pass.

Visit Miyazaki Bus Pass

It is sold at 1,500 yen and it is cheaper than one way regular fare. But this pass does not cover the express bus service. Please be careful when you take a bus. This pass covers other local bus services in Miyazaki. If you intend to visit some places in Miyazaki, this pass is very good choice.

From Hakata station and Tenjin bus terminal to Takachiho

I have never took 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 a highway motor coach that equip a washroom, Wi-Fi, a power outlet and blanket. You must make a reservation to take this bus. Please see the link below to find a reservation site.

Kyushu Bus Network Portal Site (@ Bus)

Sun Q Pass

As I mentioned above too, Sun Q Pass offers unlimited ride on most of express and local bus in Kyushu. You can get almost anywhere in Kyushu by this pass. Hakata to/from Takachiho and Kumamoto to/from Takachiho bus services are covered by this pass. You may consider to use this pass.

Sun Q Pass official site

Tips in Takachiho

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

I stayed at Hotel Grateful Takachiho. This hotel is nothing special. But this is one of a few western style hotels in Takachiho. It was clean and neat.

Hotels in Hotel Grateful Takachiho

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.

Comments

  1. 8 Dec Mount Aso | Aleisurepace says:

    […] We reached Takachiho bus station at 12.09pm.  There was a 10 mins toilet break at 10.50am at Takamori Chuo.  The bus driver counted the number of passengers before letting us go for our toilet break.  That was to ensure that he waited for all of us to get on the bus before moving on.  More details can be found at this website:  https://jprail.com/destinations/kyushu-area/my-trip-to-takachiho-how-to-access-to-takachiho-how-much-… […]

  2. 9 Dec Takachiho Gorge | Aleisurepace says:

    […] We reached Takachiho bus station at 12.09pm.  There was a 10 mins toilet break at 10.50am at Takamori Chuo.  The bus driver counted the number of passengers before letting us go for our toilet break.  That was to ensure that he waited for all of us to get on the bus before moving on.  More details can be found at this website:  https://jprail.com/destinations/kyushu-area/my-trip-to-takachiho-how-to-access-to-takachiho-how-much-… […]

  3. Jay says:

    Hi

    likely i will get a JR sanyo pass to travel in kyushu/hiroshima but there are so many combinations e.g. from Hakata to taka gorge or to Ibusuki?

    Do i need to tell JR hakata (departure stop) how i wish to transfer from a train to another from hakata to my destination? Esp when i need to reserve seats?

    Do i need to hold on to different train tickets of different train station/ stops in between before i get to reach ibusuki or takachiho gorge?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jay,

      If you are not sure, you can ask them when you book. They will show you how you can go.

      I recommend you to book reserved seat for all trains that you will take. That is easier and save your time.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Wilson says:

    Takeshi-san, we want to visit the Takachiho Gorge after getting off the bus in Takachiho Bus Center. You mentioned that “you need to go down the hill for 1.5 km from Takachiho shrine. It is a paved road and takes about 20 minutes”, is that 1.5km a walking trail that connects the Takachiho shrine and the end of the Takachiho Gorge? After that 1.5km, is the Takachiho Gorge journey finished? Or is it just the starting point of the Takachiho Gorge? I heard we can rent a boat for rafting in the Gorge, is that boat rental facility somewhere along this 1.5km path?

    I checked the Google map, from the front (Tori) of Takachiho Shrine, there is a long downhill road to the Takachiho Gorge but it looks like a road for car, not like a walking trail. I am puzzled how we should walk along the Takachiho Gorge.

    Thanks in advance.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Wilson san,

      That is a paved road for the car. There is no trail for walkers. Because most of tourists get there by own car, taxi or sightseeing tour bus. When I walked there, I did not see any other walkers there.

      Once you reach Takachiho gorge, everything is there. You can rent a boat, walk along the gorge, eat at restaurant, see small aquarium and shop at souvenir stores.
      If you visit there on weekend until end of November, shuttle bus runs among some parking spots, Takachiho shrine and gorge every 20 mins from 10:00 to 17:00 at 100 yen.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Wilson says:

        Hi Takeshi-san,

        That’s very useful information. I will arrive Takachiho bus center on Monday 12:09pm. We would like to visit the Takachiho Gorge and Amanoiwato and watch the Kagura at 8pm.

        Would it be very rush to visit both the Takachiho Gorge and Amanoiwato before 6pm? We have to leave Takachiho early next morning.

        Once I reach the Gorge and if I just walk along the gorge, is that a circular walking path that will end at the same starting point? Or will it end up in another place that is difficult to get a cab?

        About the Amanoiwato Shrine and the Cave, are they within walking distance? How long does it take to walk?

        Sorry to ask too much but I have to control the time well within this short trip.

        Thank you.

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Wilson,

          It’s way far from the gorge and town. It takes about 20 minutes from the gorge and town to Amanoiwato shrine by taxi.
          I visited there after gorge. I caught taxi at the gorge. But I’m not sure you can catch it at the gorge always. I paid about 2300 yen one way.

          I did same itinerary as yours. I did not take a boat. But I went to gorge, Amanoiwato and had dinner before Kagura at 20:00 easily.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Wilson says:

    I will take the bus at takamori to takachiho on Monday at 11am. The bus is that express leaving from Kumamoto to nobeoka at 9:11am

    1. I really worry if the bus will be full at takamori and I cannot get on it. Will it get full usually?
    2. One day before I will be in Kumamoto, is it possible to buy a ticket at Kumamoto ticket booth? Can I buy the ticket there for takamori to takachiho? How much?
    3. If not where shall I buy the ticket in takamori? At the takamori tourist center where the bus will stop? Or buy it directly on the bus?
    4. If there is really no seat to get on at takamori, how then could I go to takachiho from takamori?

    Thanks

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Wilson,

      1. I think it will be okay. You will get a seat. It’s very rare it’s full. But of course it’s not guaranteed. In Sanko Bus website mentions, “In case of full, you may not be able to get on the bus.”

      2. Even if you purchase a ticket at Kumamoto, it does not mean to secure your seat. So you don’t need to.

      3. You can pay to bus driver. The fare is 1280 yen from Takamori to Takachiho.

      4. In worst case, unfortunately you have only two choices. First, wait for next bus at 17:20. Otherwise taxi is only way to get Takachiho. I have no idea about taxi fare. But I’m sure it costs more than 10000 yen.

      This bus is operated by highway coach and as express. But it runs as commuter bus too. But stop at many bus stops frequently.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Jay says:

    Hi!

    There s really no 12pm bus from kumamoto area?

    The prices quoted are all single trip right?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jay,

      No. There are only two trips as you saw above.
      The fare is one way fare. But if you purchase round trip ticket, price is 4000 yen for round trip. This ticket must be purchased before boarding at Kumamoto station bus information window (next to bus stop).

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Mimi says:

    We booked two nights in Kumamoto and planning a day trip to Takachiho Gorge. Is that enough time to explore the Gorge since there are only two trips total to and from Kumamoto? Is it better to plan to in Nobeoka since there are multiple buses to and from there?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Mimi,

      If you are okay with just seeing Takachiho gorge, you can have one day trip from/to Kumamoto.
      You’ll arrive in Takachiho at 12:09 and leave from Takachiho at 16:31. 4 hours is enough to see Takachiho Gorge. Because gorge is just 10 minutes away from bus terminal by taxi. If you walk to Gorge, it takes about 1 hour. Don’t think about walking. Taxi fare may be less than 1000 yen. Sometimes it’s hard to catch taxi at gorge. So you can ask taxi driver to pick you up later.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Miss Sandi Marsh says:

    Hello, Do you think it is possible to visit Takachiho gorge in 1 day? I plan to stay 1 night in Nobeoka, then take a bus to Takachiho and enjoy a few hours there, then take a bus back to Nobeoka and stay the night there in Nobeoka. I do not want to stay overnight in Takachiho. Is this possible? Many thanks! 🙂

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Sandi,

      It is completely no problem. Don’t forget to purchase one day pass before on board. It is way cheaper than regular round trip fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Jay says:

        Hi! Tks for the info, but can we dont purchase the pass in advance….can we just purchase it on the spot?

        I heard that the bus frequency from takachiho bus centre to the gorge is ver low, it s only two timing only in the weekends?? is that true?

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Joy,

          I have heard about shuttle service to Takachiho gorge. But I have never got it because it was not peak season when I visited there. The following link shows you the calender of shuttle service. It is in Japanese but you may be able to understand.
          http://takachiho-kanko.info/news/detail.php?log=1375749497
          The bus runs from 10:00 to 17:00 and every 20 minutes. The fare is 100 yen. This bus does not go to Takachiho bus center. You can pick up at Takashiho shrine.

          That’s all I know.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • JJ says:

            tks but i m not sure why is it from such a limited period: 8月10日~8月18日 高千穂峡シャトルバス運行について

            I m going there at end of November 2013….

            As i will be taking a bus from kumamoto to takachiho area, i m not sure whether my bus will end at/ match with this shuttle bus you mentioned (http://takachiho-kanko.info/news/detail.php?log=1375749497)

            Last, to do the boating, which stop should i alight at?

            • JPRail says:

              Hi jay,

              Please read the link that I gave you until the end carefully. You will see the calender. Shuttle bus will run in November too.
              If you take a bus from Kumamoto, you will get off it at Takachiho bus center. And you have to walk to Takachiho shrine. You will be able to catch a shuttle bus to gorge. Shuttle bus will stop at gorge. You will find it very easily and clearly because other bus stops at the parking. You can get off there and you will find the rental boat very easily too.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Jordi Pradel says:

    Woow!

    Amazing post! It is indeed really useful!

    But I’d like to ask: Do you know a way to book for Hotel Grateful Takachiho? I can’t speak or read japanese, so the hotel website is not that useful?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jordi

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jordi,
      Unfortunately there is no English booking site for Hotel Grateful Takachiho. Takachiho is not so popular for the overseas tourist. I checked several hotel booking site too. However I could not find hotel grateful.
      Cheers,
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. Tak says:

    Hi Takeshi san,
    In JR kyushu area, if you show your JR ticket, you can rent a car from JR Eki (station) rent-a-car at a discount rate from 4000yen/day. Rental car offices are located near major JR stations and convenient if you are taking a shinkansen using JR pass. I’ve shown the reservation tickets issued with JR pass and used discount rental car from Aso station and returned at Kumamato station. Sometimes, rental car is cheaper than bus.

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