You may want to bring a cushion (zabuton) to sit on, since the floor is only tatami.
Walking hand-in-hand around the trees three times is said to bring a couple marital bliss.
While Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡・Takachiho-kyo) has nothing to do with local legends, it has everything to do with the largest geologic feature in the region.
It is venerated at the Nishihongu (West Main Shrine) of Amanoiwato Shrine, which comprises a series of structures sprawling along the edge of a gorge above the small Iwato River.
After participating in a Shinto purification ritual, visitors can progress to an observation deck behind the shrine’s main building to catch a glimpse of the cave.
The gorge has been cut out of an ancient lava flow from Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan, with jagged columns of basalt rising up from the placid green face of the Gokase River.
While the gorge can be seen from above from both a bridge and a walking trail, the best way to experience it is from a rowboat (¥2,000 for 30 minutes).
The town of Takachiho lies at the heart of many myths of Japan—and not without reason.
Long inhabited, stone artifacts as old as 20,000 years have been found in the surrounding mountains, as well as earthenware from all six sub-divisions of the Jomon Period (14,000-300 B. Takachiho occupies the mountains of the northwestern corner of Miyazaki prefecture, bordering both Oita and Kumamoto to the north and west.
Consisting of 33 dances performed throughout the night, full yokagura performances are held at different locations in town over 20 days between mid-November and early February.
If, like most tourists, you’re not up for a full night of Shinto revelry, you might instead elect to see a selection of four yokagura dances from 8 p.m. nightly at the Kagura Hall at Takachiho Shrine (¥700).
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