Kyushu, Day 6: More of Takachiho Tour

After lunch, we visited Takachiho Shrine. The shrine is surrounded by Japanese cedar trees with the oldest estimated to be 1000 years old.

MARCH 9, 2020

After lunch, we visited TAKACHIHO SHRINE. The shrine is surrounded by Japanese cedar trees with the oldest estimated to be 1000 years old.

Helen showed us the Meoto Sugi, believed to be a male and a female tree growing side by side and married to each other. She shared that walking around the two trees 3x clockwise with your partner will ensure happiness.

As usual, I was fascinated with the ema designs…

Helen led us to the back area of the shrine and shared a story on how a god cut a demon’s body part to teach it a lesson never to come back. We also visited the theater where Kagura dance is performed every night.

Our last stop was in Iwato, to visit the shrine and cave associated with Amaterasu, the sun goddess and Japan’s most revered kami. We went first to AMANO IWATO SHRINE.

Helen shared the folklore on how Amaterasu became the most important kami in Shintoism – not gonna spoil it though! 😉 After visiting the shrine, we had a bit of a trek to reach AMANO YASUKAWARA CAVE.

Helen asked us to pick up a stone from the shrine entrance before going here, and the custom was for us to place the stone on top of any pile of stones in the cave. In this way, our prayers may be answered. We had to be careful not to knock down the pile because each pile contains prayers from different people.

We went back to Higo-Ozu Station and bid goodbye to everyone. Back at Kumamoto city, we had dinner at COCO ICHIBANYA and I got my favorite cheese hamburg with omelet.

Kyushu, Day 6: Takachiho Gorge Tour

We availed a full-day tour in Takachiho via Explore Kumamoto and it was the best decision! While you can visit Takachiho (and even Mount Aso) on your own, it is difficult to move from one place to another due to lack of frequent public transpo.

MARCH 9, 2020

We availed a full-day tour in Takachiho via Explore Kumamoto and it was the best decision! While you can visit Takachiho (and even Mount Aso) on your own, it is difficult to move from one place to another due to lack of frequent public transpo.

Helen, our tour guide, was easy to talk to during the arrangement for this tour. My sister and I were very happy with her because she had a lot of stories to share during the tour. My favorite part was whenever she shared stories from Japanese myths and folklore. She also listened intently to our stories during the car ride and even if it was silent, it was not awkward.

We met her at Higo-ozu Station along with 3 other tourists. She brought a van so there was a lot of space for legroom and luggage.

Our first stop was a local farmer’s market with one of the best views of Mount Aso. That day was cloudy but thankfully, it was not raining.

Helen said that strawberries were in season so I bought a pack and finished it in one sitting.

We went to another area afterwards with a better landscape view of the area.

After a long ride, we finally reached TAKACHIHO GORGE. Helen said that this was formed due to violent eruptions of Mount Aso thousands of years ago.

She shared different stories including an oni being sealed in the area and the interesting rock formations caused by previous volcanic eruptions.

We eventually reached the spot where we can see the Manai Waterfalls, selected as one of the best 100 waterfalls in Japan.

After that, we saw a love shrine and a big pond with its center dubbed as the first island made.

Next was the moment I was waiting for – riding a boat on the river. A new boating fee scheme was implemented wherein a boat rental costs ¥3,000 + ¥1,000 per person.

One of our tour companions joined me and C since he was a solo traveler. We had 30 minutes to row along the river and return to the dock. It was a bit difficult for our new companion to row and navigate because there were other boats around. We ended up getting wet a bit because we went too close to the waterfalls at one point.

We still had fun especially because C and I did not have to row. Hehe. For lunch, we decided to eat in INAKAYA because they had chicken nanban (¥1,200) – karaage (fried chicken) with tartar sauce + a bit of vinegar taste. The restaurant beside Inakaya is the origin of nagashi soumen, wherein somen noodles flow down a bamboo with running water and you have to catch them with chopsticks then dip into the sauce.

The serving of the chicken nanban was huge! One order had 3 big pieces of fried chicken plus miso soup and pickled vegetables were also served. Perfect lunch after a looong morning.