HOW TO MOVE AROUND
Takachiho village has no interest for tourists, although in a way it gives off good sensations because of how well care it is, and the nice decorative elements of the houses.
Once we have reached the bus stop:
- The gorge is about 30 minutes walking southwest.
- For those who do not want to walk, in the immediate vicinity of the bus stop you can rent electric bikes for 300 ¥ per hour or 1500 ¥ per day (not 24 hours, it is rented until the closing time of the establishment). It is important that the bicycle is electric, because if you do not want to walk to the gorge, the less you want to make the way back by bike, since it is very steep.
- There are infrequent buses that connect to the base of the gorge (140 ¥, 5 minutes).
- Of course you can also hire a taxi.
15 minutes away from the bus stop on foot, almost in the limits of the town towards the gorge, we will find before beginning the descent, the main temple of the locality, Takachiho Sanctuary. It stands out for how well integrated it is in nature. The walls are only lightly painted, the decorations are austere and there are large sacred trees in its courtyard.
It is dedicated to the sun goddess of Shinto, and around it, dances have been developed that are also characteristic of the town, the Yokagura. A one-hour show (from 8 pm to 9 pm, 700 ¥) is performed in the temple every night for tourists. The dancers wear masks, and traditional instruments are used for music. As in the rest of the musical theaters of Japan, they can be difficult to understand for the outsiders.
It’s free of charge.
From the temple begins a beautiful but steep descent, which can be done by the roadside or by a charming pedestrian path that includes footpaths, bridges and long stairways.
Once at the Gokase river level, the only option is a pedestrian path, mostly cobbled. The gorge is formed by basaltic columns; the lower ones are perfectly vertical, and the upper ones are distributed diagonally. The upper area is covered with amazing greenery, forming one of those extraordinary caprices of nature.
It is initially narrow, but the more we advance, the more it grows and fits into the rock, and the more it does, the more it fascinates us.
Until we reach the lookout points, from where the view of the gorge offers such a beautiful and bucolic set that it is hard to believe that it is true, and that you can not and do not want to stop looking at it.
Although there is a small cheat: the Manai waterfall is artificial, since a water course has been derived specifically to create it.
From the bridge the view is just as spectacular, so much is the beauty of the site that is somewhat touching.
And there is another point of view that can not be missed: you have to get on a boat, you have to be part of that image. The road ends at the jetty; boats can be rented every day (except if the river is very grown) from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm (in the summer from 7:30 am to 6 pm) for 2000 ¥ every 30 minutes, with a maximum of 3 people per boat, which is extremely expensive because:
- Although the navigation is very simple, the canal is longer than it seems, and is full of boats, which slows the course, and half an hour is not enough time to travel the whole of it, unless you expressly go to the end of the canal and return without recreating in the idyllic beauty of the surroundings.
- Even if you do not want to row the whole canal, personally I consider that half an hour is not time enough to be truly satisfied. As I watched the place, took pictures and rowed, I could not stop thinking that I wanted to stay in that boat the whole afternoon.
This is one of the places that has make me surrender to Japan.
AMANO IWATO SANCTUARY
The last point to emphasize is this sanctuary, where I did not go beacuse it is 10 km northeast of the town. It is built next to the cave (which can not be visited) where according to Shinto the goddess of the sun took shelter. It does not close or charge any admission. Within 10 minutes on foot there is another cave, the Amanoyasugawara, where according to mythology other gods met.
You can go by bus or bicycle. A taxi to the sanctuary will cost around 2200 ¥.