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

View Trip to Takachiho in a larger map

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Hotels in Takachiho, Japan
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Hotels in Miyazaki, Japan

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.


  1. Icha says:

    Hello Takeshi-san..
    I’ll visit Japan on 15th September for 13 days.
    My itinerary be like:
    16 Sept arrived in Kansai Airport
    17 Sept visit USJ
    18 Sept move from Osaka to Nobeoka (I’ll visit Miyajima Island before going to Nobeoka)
    19 Sept Takachiho Gorge (from 18-21 Sept I’ve booked hotels in Nobeoka)
    20 Sept explore Beppu or Miyazaki
    21 Sept move to sleep over in my friend’s house in Beppu
    22 Sept explore Beppu/Fukuoka and depart to Tottori
    23-24 Sept explore Tottori (I’ve booked hotels in Tottori)
    24-25 Sept explore Kobe (booked hotels in Kobe)
    25-28 Sept move to Osaka
    28 Sept Osaka to Kansai Airport

    Actually at first I will buy Sanyo San’in Northern Kyushu Pass, but this pass only covering my trip until Oita Station while I really want visit Takachiho Gorge.
    So, I think I’ll combine those pass with another pass, but I don’t know which pass I can combine with it. I have another idea to buy JRPASS so I can save my budget for trip Osaka-Miyazaki-Tottori-Kobe in 7 days (from 18-24 Sept). For my plan in Kobe-Osaka from 25-28 sept I think I can buy Kansai pass or one day pass.

    Do you have any recommendations pass for my trip? And what do you think about my itinerary?
    Thank you..

    • Hi Icha san,

      As you think, the best option is using 7 days JR pass and shrink your trip to 7 days from Osaka to Kobe.

      If you use Sanyo San’in Northern Kyushu Pass, the extra fare for Oita to Nobeoka is more than 4000 yen which is a base fare and limited express reserved seat fee. This is one way fare so you have to pay double. And also you need to pay Tottori to Kobe. But you can use Kansai wide area pass for Tottori-Kobe-Osaka-KIX.


      Takeshi /

  2. vincent says:

    hi takeshi san
    can i buy a same day return express bus ticket (Kumamoto–>Takachiho—>Kumamoto) in the Kumamoto bus station (around 9am? when ticket office opens) so that i can be assure of a confirmed seat back from TBC around 4:30 pm after sight seeing in Takachiho

    if i miss the return leg of the express bus, are there other non-express bus passing/stopping the Takachiho bus center to kumamoto where i still can buy a ticket on the bus to be back in kumamoto hotel even it is much later into the night

    many thanks and you have a great blog…very informative

    • Hi Vincent san,

      You can purchase round trip ticket which is a bit cheaper than 2 x one way ticeket.
      There is no other buses, even local bus from Takachiho to Kumamoto. If you miss it, you will be stuck at Takachiho. So don’t miss it.


      Takeshi /

  3. AJ says:

    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?

  4. Yuliani Agustine says:

    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,

  5. Darrell says:

    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.

    • 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 /

  6. stelphi soh says:

    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?

  7. Herman says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    From Takachiho Bus centre to miyazaki station (JR) is there direct bus ?


  8. Bowie says:

    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!

  9. Joe Pan says:

    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.

  10. Joe Pan says:

    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?


    • Hi Joe san,

      This bus runs everyday but this is an express bus. It’s not covered by bus pass. And also reservation is required to take this bus. Japanese info is only available.

      The pass covers only local bus between Nobeoka and Takachiho too. Express bus is not covered by any passes.


      Takeshi /

      • JJ says:

        Tks for the informative info
        Glad to knw abt the disruption now

        • No worries, JJ.


          Takeshi /

          • JJ says:

            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?

            • 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 /

              • JJ says:

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

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