Takachiho in Kyushu Mountains, an amazing spot blessed by the Gods

Located in the center of the Kyushu Mountains, in the northwestern part of Miyazaki prefecture - in between Oita and Kumamoto prefectures - there is a town through which the Gokase River flows: Takachiho.Since ancient times, this place has been considered as a sacred ground, a passageway for the Gods to descend to Earth, and the famous yokagura (dance rituals), usually performed there in the fall and early winter, are perpetuating this old tradition by acting out legendary episodes from Japanese myths.These dances, offered by several groups from different local communities, are genuine ceremonies designated as an Important National Intangible Folk Culture Asset and, according to custom, constitute a way for the villagers to guarantee the sun will return in the spring or to thank the Gods for a good harvest.[caption id="attachment_3318" align="alignright" width="286"]Credit: japan magazine Credit: japan magazine[/caption]The most famous of the 33 dances is when Amaterasu (the sun goddess) hides in a rock cave, causing the whole world to be plunged into darkness.For the record, a shochu (offering of money) will be expected, particularly if you stay for the whole set of dances.Takachiho is also well-known for its V-shaped gorge with spectacular steep walls formed due to the fast cooling of an ancient lava flow (after the eruption of the Aso volcano) that filled the valley of the Gokase River.[caption id="attachment_3325" align="alignleft" width="295"]Credit: www.takachiho-kanko.info Credit: www.takachiho-kanko.info[/caption]To fully appreciate this natural site, you should definitely go for a boat ride. You will get an awesome sight of the surrounding green mountains, the magnificently variegated terrains changing according the season, and the 17-meter Manainotaki waterfall cascades.And, you know what ? This thrilling experience will cost you only 2000 yen for 30 minutes and a boat of 3 people. The suspension of rentals really rarely happens, mainly when rain causes the river level to rise.In addition, a prestigious range of local food will seduce the finest gourmets with its exceptional flavors.[caption id="attachment_3323" align="alignright" width="354"]Credit: www.takachiho-kanko Credit: www.takachiho-kanko.info[/caption]Among all of them, I will recommend you to taste the Chicken Nanban, a fried chicken marinated in a nanbansu vinaigrette served with tartar sauce, or the Takachiho beef, an unique piece of meat recognized throughout Japan for its superior tenderness, its sweet-tasting fat and mellow flavor.If you are an heavy tea drinker, you will certainly be interested in having a sip of the Kamairicha - or pan-fired tea - a sweet and mildly roasted flavored tea, prepared thanks to an ancient technique.[caption id="attachment_3324" align="aligncenter" width="333"]Credit: www.takachiho-kanko.info Credit: www.takachiho-kanko.info[/caption]TakachihoAddress: Takachiho-cho Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki 882-1101 JapanAccess:- By car to Takachiho: From Fukuoka Airport: 3 hours 30 minutes - From Kumamoto Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes- From Miyazaki Airport: 2 hours 30 minutes.- By walk from Takachiho to the Gorge: 30-40 minute from the City Bus Center (on weekend, a tourist bus connects the city center with tourist attractions)Hours & Fees:- Boat rental: From 8:30 to 16:30 (daily) / ¥2000 for 30 minutes per boat of 3 people- Shochu for Yokagura: two bottles of sake costing about 3,000 yen as a gift to the deities (available at the liquor shop in Takachiho town)Recommended season: From November to February for watching Yokagura performancesContact:Takachiho Town Office, Commerce, Industry and Tourism SectionTEL: 0982-73-1212Takachiho-Town Tourist Association (reservation to join Yokagura through this contact)TEL: 0982-73-1213Sources:(1) http://www.town-takachiho.jp/(2) http://www.takachiho-kanko.info/