Mystical Takachiho Gorge, Japan
A little-known jewel to travelers outside of Japan, hidden in the Miyazaki Prefecture in the center of the Kyushu Mountains, is the breath-taking Takachiho Gorge. The V-shaped gorge consists of stunning limestone cliffs that were formed from the lava of Mt. Aso (the largest active volcano in Japan) which over time was eroded by the Gokase-gawa River. The result of which is a beautiful gorge with sparkling clear aquamarine water surrounded by 80 to 100 meter high cliffs of volcanic basalt columns.
At the gorge, you can rent a boat and row past these high walls to Manai-no-taki Falls, which is a 17 meters high waterfall. In addition, the gorge has over 600-meters of walking trails, with views that overlook the beauty of the gorge and the waterfall.
Takachiho Gorge is not only a natural wonder but an important spiritual retreat with more than one million Japanese visitors a year. The gorge is home to the Amanoiwato shrine which is dedicated to a cave off the river. The cave holds the secrets of the myth of how solar eclipses began.
According to myth, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu-omikami hid herself in a cave called Amanoiwato to avoid Susanoo-no-mikoto, her brother. This is an interpretation of how solar eclipses began as the Sun Goddess’ “light” was hidden within the cave. Tradition says that the Amanoiwato Shrine is dedicated to this cave.