Three things to do before you head to Takachiho Gorge:
- Check the weather forecast (clear weather is what you are looking for)
- Arrange to get there early (we drove)
- When you get there, and if you decide to row the boat (well worth the experience), book the boat first, then have a wander around
Takachiho Gorge (Takachiho Kyo if you are using the GPS to get there) is simply stunning. The drive there was a sensory experience in itself. We stopped several times to take pictures of the spectacular mountain vistas, the tunnels leading through the mountain, and the bridges.
Unfortunately, we missed out on a spot in the bottom car park, which meant we had to park on the top and hike down a long series of steps before reaching the Gorge. It is about a 15-20 minute hike down, and you get some wonderful glimpses of the Gorge and landscapes along the way, BUT, it is the hiking back up later that really saps your energy (especially on a hot day).
The Gorge itself is beautiful, and I suggest making a beeline for the boat bookings once you get there before doing anything else. We didn't do this, and ended up waiting for two hours (with not much to do) before getting on a boat. Rowing the boat in the Gorge was worth the wait though. You get a completely different perspective of the Gorge, and a chance to get up close to the waterfall and aquamarine waters. It is stunning, and plenty of fun.
Once you've done the boat booking, you can have a wander around and take in the beauty of the gorge from above. To be honest, there isn't much to see or do there. There are two somen restaurants, where the wait staff send bundles of somen down a bamboo chute filled with running water and you catch them with your chopsticks (fun, but I wonder how hygienic this is?!), and another restaurant where you can fish for your fish which they then cook up for you. There are then two obligatory omiyage stores, a soft serve stand, and a freshwater aquarium which we decided not to visit.
I would highly recommend visiting though. It was the highlight of our time in Kyushu. Just book the boat first!
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