Just when I thought I was running low on manhole covers, a weekend away from Kumamoto landed me with at least a few more postings’ worth. One of the first stops the itinerary was the town of Takachiho, a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of place in a mountainous corner of central Kyushu.
Takachiho has strong ties to the stories of Japan’s founding gods but I aim to do a separate post on that later so I’ll withhold the details and keep you all in suspense. 🙂 But Takachiho’s other claim to fame sits at the southern end of town and boy is it a wonder of a sight – a gorge that splits the earth in two and offers easy hiking, a waterfall, a boating experience and an aura of mystery.
The Takachiho Gorge is ages old, carved out of volcanic lava flow from Mt Aso by the Gokase River. Unlike some canyons, this chasm is narrow, and the thickets of trees growing along the hillsides lend it a dark and often mysterious aura on cloudy days. It’s been a long time since I have seen anywhere so stunningly beautiful, however. We chose to view the gorge from the well-maintained walking path that followed the cliff’s edge. For a closer look (and, of course, a fee), you can rent rowboats and actually enter the gorge, getting a face-to-face perspective of the ancient rock walls and the beautiful Manai waterfall (both the waterfall and a boat can be seen in the picture above).
The bridge on the manhole cover runs above the gorge. While not attractive in its own right (at least not to me), it did paint a rather striking scene looming over the river like it did.