2019 / 07 / 09
Takachiho Gorge was formed long ago by an eruption of nearby Mt. Aso. One of its main features is the layered look of the precipices on either side. Other attractions within the gorge include the 17-meter Manai Falls and an iconic view of three arched bridges. There are rental boats that can be rowed out into the gorge waters for an up-close experience.
Takachiho Gorge is deeply connected to local mythology. Nearby sites include an island called Onokoro Shima, believed to be the first made by the kami deities, and a massive stone referred to as the Stone of Kihachi’s Might, which is said to have been hurled by the fearsome deity Kihachi during a legendary battle. On November 10th, 1934, Takachiho Gorge was designated a national place of scenic beauty and a natural monument.
The layered look of Takachiho Gorge, known as columnar jointing, was created from the rapid cooling of fast-flowing lava that eroded over time into the present deep V-shaped valley. On average the precipices are 80 meters high, though some areas reach 100 meters. The edges of the gorge continue east and west for about 7 kilometers. In 1965, this area became a part of the Sobo-Katamuki Quasi-National Park (Note: Part of the name comes from the famed Mt. Sobo).
Manai Falls is about 17-meters in height and is located in the middle of Takachiho Gorge. It was recently chosen as one of Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls for its scenic beauty. The sight of its waters crashing into the gorge is a highlight for visitors, and boats can be rented out during the day year-round to experience the falls up close from below. At night, Manai Falls is illuminated in different colors for mystic nighttime strolls.
The source of the waterfall is connected to Japanese mythology. The waters flow from a natural well of spring water at Ama Manai, a spot said to be the first source of water brought by the deities to the earthly realm.
Takachiho’s Three Arched Bridges (Sanbashi) View
The Takachiho Gorge is said to be one of the few spots in all of Japan with a simultaneous view of three arched bridges. The three bridges showcase diverse construction technologies: 1) Shinbashi (stone construction over a concrete arch); 2) Takachiho Ohashi (steel bridge), Showa period (1926–1989); and 3) Shinto Takachiho Ohashi (concrete bridge), Heisei period (1989–2019).