Exploring Kyushu Part 4: Connect with Nature at Takachiho Gorge
Using the Kyushu Tour Bus – Beppu, Yufuin, Takachiho & Kurokawa Bus (Round trip from Beppu, Yufuin & Kurokawa) is a convenient way to see a beautiful part of Kyushu while getting transported to Kurokawa Onsen or Yufuin at the end of the day.
The bus picked us up from Hotel Shiragiku, where we were staying, and drove through dreamy mountains draped in morning mist and snow-lined branches found up in higher altitudes.
After picking up more tour participants from Yufuin and making a rest stop, we finally arrived at Takachiho around 11:30. The bus navigated carefully through steep, winding roads, and let us off near a bridge with gorgeous views of jagged rocks and mini-waterfalls. The air was crisp and fresh, filled with what the Japanese would call “minus ions”.
The guide led us through a pleasant walk through the gorge, explaining things here and there, and none of which I heard because I was too busy taking photos. Rather than describe how tranquil and refreshing this gem of a place in Kyushu is, I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Many people choose to hire a little boat and row their way down the gorge which, although not part of this particular tour, I highly recommend if you get the chance.
After some free time for lunch and wandering about, we made our way to Amanoiwato Shrine, a shrine built across the cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu is said to have hidden out of rage due to her brother’s cruel pranks.
We were given a tour of the shrine by the priest, who also led us to the famous cave, which can only be gazed at from across the river (photos not allowed). A short walk from the shrine (around 10-15 minutes) filled with more luscious greenery, small waterfalls, and of course, “minus ions”, and you find yourself at another cave, the Amano Yasukawara (天安河原). Said to be the cave where the gods and goddesses met to discuss their strategy to lure Amaterasu out of hiding, it is surrounded by thousands of small stacked stones.
And flanked by a nice river with many satisfyingly rounded stones.
After the calming stroll, we again boarded the bus which made its winding way back towards Oita, stopping by Kurokawa Onsen before dropping us off at Yufuin together with our luggage.
Yufuin Yumeguri Hotel Sankoen
We checked in to the lovely Yufuin Yumeguri Hotel Sankoen, a spacious ryokan nestled in the mountains and boasting 10 different baths, with many being private open-air baths. The system is simple – if there is no “In Use” sign on the door, you can flip the sign yourself and use it. If there is someone in there already, you can either wait or try your luck at any of the other baths. If all else fails, there is still of course the public indoor and open-air baths.
Dinner was a splendid course of fine Kyushu ingredients held in a semi-private room. We also tried the local Yufuin cider which was reminiscent of Sprite.
The rooms were extravagantly large, and had a modern wood design that made them feel very homely and warm.
Breakfast the next morning was served in the same semi-private room; a mix of a Japanese-style bento and a small buffet of buns, fruit and milk.
This ryokan-style hotel makes you feel truly pampered, and the natural hot springs you find here are some of the finest in Japan. There is also a free shuttle service to and from Yufuin Station, which is located a few kilometers away. We took advantage of this service and upon checking out, departed to explore our final destination for the day before flying back to Tokyo.
Last stop: Yufuin!
Model: Takuya Komatsu is an actor/singer active in Asia. Originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, he has starred in dramas such as Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo 2013 and Fire Boys (2004), as well as released an album in Taiwan.