How to access to Takachiho

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

My itinerary and summary of access to Takachiho


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Hotels in Takachiho, 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. Nora says:

    Hi, Takeshi-san,

    I will be travelling to Kumamoto, and I’m planning to visit Takachiho and Takamori city.
    Looking at your post for the Bus schedule, I’m thinking of going to Takachiho first from Kumamoto. The next day I’ll be taking the bus back and drop off at Takamori for a day trip before taking the bus again back to Kumamoto at the afternoon.

    Is that possible? How about the fare I should pay for if I’m dropping half way (Takachiho-Takamori, then Takamori-Kumamoto)?

    Thank you!

    Best,
    Nora

    • Hi Nora,

      It is possible but what are you going to do in Takamori? It is very limited to do there after earthquake hit there.
      If you drop by Takamori, you have to pay separately, Takachiho-Takamori, Takamori-Kumamoto.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Nora says:

        Thanks for replying!

        I actually wanted to visit Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine there. Looking from google maps, it is quite far though from the local train station, so I hope I can take the local buses or taxi.

        *I’m almost going to drop this plan, because I can’t figure out the route. Now I’m up again for the trip!
        Thank you so much for your post and reply 🙂

        Best,
        Nora

        • Hi Nora,

          Okay, I got it.
          You may catch a taxi at bus station in Takamori. There are information center in the bus station. You may ask them to call a taxi. Takamori is very small town so taxi may be limited. The shrine is 10 minutes away from bus station. So taxi is only way to get there. And ask taxi driver to pick you up after visiting shrine. I think there is no taxi around the shrine.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Kim says:

    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

    • 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

      • Kim says:

        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

  3. Mel says:

    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!

  4. Charlene says:

    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!

    • 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

  5. Pang says:

    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,

  6. Jennifer says:

    How far is the gorge from Osaka?

  7. trisha says:

    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?

  8. Jacky says:

    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

  9. Yvonne says:

    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

  10. Stephan says:

    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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