Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡, Takachiho-kyō) is a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River. The nearly sheer cliffs lining the gorge are made of slow forming volcanic basalt columns which resemble the scales of a dragon where the stone twisted and flowed as it formed.
Partway along the gorge is the 17 meter high Minainotaki waterfall cascading down to the river below, and it is truly impressive to see the waterfall against a backdrop of dense green foliage and the surrounding grey cliffs.
There are two perspectives from which to enjoy the gorge. The first is from below which is done by rowing down the river. Rental boats are available at the south end of the gorge, and the water is calm and easy to navigate. This highly recommended route offers a close up view of the cliffs and waterfall.
The second perspective, from above, is done by walking the paved path that runs along the edge of the gorge. There are beautiful views all along the way and at some points on the trail you can look practically straight down to the river below. The trail continues for about one kilometer, eventually leading to the Takachiho Shrine.
There are a few other things to see and do around the southern end of the gorge including a freshwater aquarium, a stocked fishing pond and a few restaurants and souvenir shops. The gorge is illuminated during the summer months until 22:00.
The Takachiho Gorge is located just outside the town center, about a 30-40 minute walk from the Takachiho Bus Center. An infrequent tourist bus connects the gorge with the bus center and other tourist attractions on weekends and public holidays. There is no bus service on regular weekdays.