Experience the Myths and the Magic of Japan's Spellbinding Miyazaki Prefecture

An island escape to subtropical Kyushu, the third-largest island of Japan’s five main islands within the Miyazaki Prefecture, promises much more.
Experience the myths and the magic of Japan's spellbinding Miyazaki Prefecture

Here you will encounter unparalleled opportunities for outdoor adventure that take you above the clouds at Takachiho’s Sea of Clouds lookout and across gem green river waters at Takachiho Gorge.

Offering more than recreation, Kyushu island’s Takachiho area is home to some of Japan's most cherished cultural sites and shrines, including Amano Iwato Shrine and Takachiho Shrine, a shrine that was originally built 12 centuries ago. 

And, make time to make your way through the Takahichio region along the Amaterasu Railway. The 30-minute journey provides travelers with unobstructed views of the scenery and sights located throughout scenic Takachiho. 

Pack your camera and bring your sense of adventure to Kyushu island and discover just what makes Takachiho unlike any other place for yourself.

Hike or boat your way across the popular — and incredibly beautiful  — Takachiho Gorge

Hike or boat your way across the popular — and incredibly beautiful  — Takachiho Gorge

Located on Kyushu island, Takachio Gorge is the most visited place in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. And it is easy to see why. 

Its lush, almost otherworldly appearance looks like a scene taken straight out of a fantasy storybook. And it is only fitting. Northern Miyazaki Prefecture is closely connected to Japanese mythology. It's here where some of the country’s most illustrious stories are said to have taken place. 

From the Gokase River’s emerald green water, the far-reaching basalt cliffs, and the unmissable Manai waterfall that draws in hundreds of visitors from the world over, Takachio Gorge is absolutely brimming with natural wonder. The remarkable landscape features breathtaking scenic views and ample opportunity for one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences, including hiking and boating excursions.

Where is Takachiho Gorge?

Takachiho Gorge is tucked away in the mountains of Japan’s scenic Miyazaki Prefecture. Easily accessible by visitors, Takachiho Gorge is located just outside of Takachiho’s town center.

How to get to Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho Gorge is a short distance from the Takachiho town center and can be accessed via tourist bus or taxi, although infrequent. Visitors are also encouraged to rent power-assisted bicycles. 

Most visitors arrive in Takachiho Gorge by driving a rental car or on foot, as many of the area’s sites are within walking distance of one another. Walking from Takachiho town center’s bus station to Takachiho Gorge takes up to 20 minutes. 

• Address:  Mukoyama, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1103

Discover where Japanese lore and natural beauty collide in Takachiho

Discover where Japanese lore and natural beauty collide in Takachiho

While Takachio Gorge brings in a bevy of adventure-seeking travelers for its natural splendor, the town of Takachiho attracts visitors for an entirely different reason. 

Takachiho is the site of one of the most well-known legends of Japanese mythology, the story of Amaterasu — the highest deity in Japanese mythology. 

Amaterasu is regarded as a prominent figure in Japanese mythology. She is both the queen of the kami (the divine beings of heaven and earth) and ruler of the universe. Furthermore, the Japanese Imperial family claims to have descended from her lineage. 

Legend has it that the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu hid in a Takachiho cave to escape from her younger brother Susanoo’s barbarous rampage, thus depriving both the world and the heavens of natural light.  

Her elusive escape prompted other gods and goddesses to act. A myriad of deities are said to have come together to perform a ritual involving dance and laughter in an effort to lure Amaterasu from her hiding place. And it worked. Amaterasu emerged from the cave, and natural light shines on the heavens and the earth again. 

Today, Takachiho is considered a power spot in Japan, a place of profound religious importance and natural beauty.

Visit the highly-cherished Takachiho Shrine

Visit the highly-cherished Takachiho Shrine

Established more than 12 centuries ago, Takachiho Shrine sits on the grounds where Amaterasu descended to earth. At one point, there were more than 500 unique shrines located throughout the sacred area. 

Unlike most of Japan’s shine sites, which are colored in vibrant, bright red hues, Takachiho Shrine seamlessly blends in with its natural surroundings with its earthy appearance. 

Notably, the most revered Takachiho Shrine is where all of the pertinent gods from Japanese mythology are enshrined.

How to get to Takachiho Shrine

Takachiho Shrine is accessible by car, bus or taxi. From Takachiho Bus Center, it is about a 15-minute walk. 

• Address: 1037 Mitai, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1101

Takachiho Kagura: learn about the region’s culture, legends, and myths

Eager to discover more about Takachiho’s rich, mythical history? 

Each night during the clear midwinter season, from the months of November to early February, dancers and performers reenact the story of Amaterasu. Called Evening Kagura, the ritualistic performance comes alive with costumes, masks, and music. 

Evening Kagura has been a Shinto tradition for more than 800 years and takes place across the area’s multiple villages and communities, with each performance offering its own cultural perspective. The ritual invites local gods into community centers and some residences called Kaguraya where 33 Kagura presentations are held throughout the night. 

In 1978, Evening Kagura was given the designation as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.  

Outside of this distinct timeframe, Takachino Kagura is held each evening at Takachiho Shrine, 356-days a year. These performances are complemented by commentary, making the experience ideal for those who are just beginning to learn about Kagura and Takachiho culture.

Remember, Evening Kagura and Takachiho Kagura are highly-cherished religious ceremonies that are held dear by the locals in the area. Please be courteous and respectful when watching this tradition unfold when you visit Takachiho.

How long should you spend in Takachiho? 

While personal preferences may likely vary from traveler to traveler, most visitors to the region tend to choose to spend a full day in Takachiho. This provides ample opportunity to explore the beautiful Takachiho Gorge and Takachiho Shrine without rushing through your visit, all while making time for hiking, boating, sightseeing, and lunch. 

Looking to extend your time in Takachiho? The area offers a number of hotels that are happy to accommodate visitors looking to enjoy Takachiho’s wild splendor.

Explore the tranquil Amano Iwato Shrine

Explore the tranquil Amano Iwato Shrine

Takachiho is often referred to as the land of living Japanese myths. In addition to Takachiho Shrine, the Takachino area is also home to another eminent shrine  — Amano Iwato Shrine. 

Amano Iwato Shrine is located just outside of Takachiho town center. The shrine is positioned near the cave where the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu is said to have retreated to escape her malicious brother, Susanoo. 

While the cave can not be approached by visitors, an observation deck located behind the shrine’s main building provides views of the Iwato River and the cave, which is located on the opposite side. 

How to get to Amano Iwato Shrine

How to get to Amano Iwato Shrine

Amano Iwato Shrine is accessible by bus. A bus operates between the Takachiho Bus Center and shrine every one to two hours; 15-minute bus ride.

• Address: 1073-1 Iwato, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1621

Take a trip along the iconic — and unbelievably scenic — Amaterasu Railway

Take a trip along the iconic — and unbelievably scenic — Amaterasu Railway

Sightseeing is among the most popular activities throughout the Takachiho area. And one of the best ways to see Takachiho is by rail. 

The Takachiho Amaterasu Railway offers an unforgettable ride that takes you through the region’s most scenic areas. Hop aboard the glass-bottomed Grand Super Cart or take a ride in the Super Cart, the original model for the Amaterasu Railway cars. 

Highlights of the half-hour train trip include an adrenaline-inducing bridge crossing. Towering at 105-meters, your open-air train car will coast 352-meters across the Takachiho Bridge. Views from the bridge, which is Japan’s highest, are simply breathtaking. 

And you’ll have ample time to take it all in, as your conductor will make a stop along the bridge, giving you time to snap photos and peek through the train car’s glass floor, if you dare. Additionally, while stopped at Takachiho Bridge, your conductor will blow bubbles, adding to the fun and whimsy of the train ride. 

Other fun quirks include the railways' two illuminated tunnel passages. The disco-inspired light show is projected from the front of the train, which is said to be best observed from the front seats of the train car. 

Take time to visit the station’s rail yard where older trail models from the Amaterasu Railway are displayed. Curious riders can also strap on a protective helmet and go under the train cars to see the inner workings and mechanics of the machines. 

At Takachiho Station, visitors can shop for commemorative souvenirs that run the gamut from handkerchiefs to t-shirts. 

Takachiho Station also has its own on-site eatery, Café Mirakolo, where you can savor local Miyazaki cuisine. 

A ride along the Amaterasu Railway is one of the region’s most popular attractions. And tickets are known to sell out quickly. Visitors are encouraged to purchase railway tickets for their preferred time slot directly from Takachiho Station when it opens.   

How to get to Amaterasu Railway

The Amaterasu Railway is nearby Takachiho Bus Center; about a 10-minute walk.

• Address: 1425-1, Mitai, Takachiho-cho Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1101
• Hours: Reception is open 9:25 AM to 3:25 PM (advance reservations are not available)

Behold extraordinary panoramic views at Takachiho’s Sea of Clouds lookout

Behold extraordinary panoramic views at Takachiho’s Sea of Clouds lookout 

Rising through the clouds at 513-meters above sea level, Takachiho’s Sea of Clouds at Kunimigaoka gives travelers a spectacular, almost magical, perspective of Takachiho Basin. 

Here, mist shrouds the basin as the surrounding mountains peek through puffy clouds. Truly a sight to behold, visitors have remarked that the view resembles a classic Japanese-style ink painting.   

Visitors can also take in epic views of the five peaks of Mount Aso and the Sobo mountain range. Not only is Takachihio’s Sea of Clouds a popular destination, but it has also inspired music and is regarded as the birthplace of the well-known Japanese folk song, Seicho Kariboshi Kiriuta.

On the first weekend of October, the Japanese National Seicho Kiraboshi Kiriuta Singing Contest is held, a celebration that spotlights the best singers in the country.

When is the best time to see the Sea of Clouds?

This remarkable “sea of clouds” is best viewed in the autumn season (mid-September through late November) on early, cold, clear, and windless mornings. 

Set your alarms! In order to get the best views, you’ll need to arrive at the lookout before dawn. 

How to get to Sea of Clouds

Sea of Clouds is accessible by car; 15-minutes from Takachiho Bus Center. 

• Address: 71-3 Oshikata, Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1102

Start planning your next big adventure with Japan Airlines today

Experience a place like no other in Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture’s idyllic outdoor oasis. From cultural experiences unique to the Takachiho area and a surplus of outdoor recreation opportunities, Miyazaki Prefecture’s Takachiho offers something for every kind of traveler. 

And Japan Airlines can take you there. You'll arrive via Kumamoto Airport and depart from Miyazaki. Japan Explorer Pass gives you access to over 30 cities located across JAL’s domestic network, from Sapporo to Miyako. Your next adventure begins with JAL. Find flights and book today, with Japan Explorer Pass.