Takachiho Sun 26th Nov. 2.5-9.5°C, rainy.
Hired a Nissan Note e-power
for a lovely drive to Takachiho Gorge in the misty but constant rain. From Kumamoto Station we took routes #266 & #445 to Mifune. The car navi has english, but Japan does not use street addresses so it's easiest to find and input the phone number of your destination and waypoints if you use them.
Our first port of call was the Mifune Dinosaur Museum
, known locally as 'Mifunecho Kyoryu Museum', 16km (30min) drive from Kumamoto Station. Very modern and up to date, the main dinosaur exhibit is in a 'race to the finish' pattern from Triassic through to Cretaceous, which makes a spectacular display. ¥500 entry, well worth two hours here.
Shortly after leaving Mifune, continuing on #445 then #218, the road started to climb into the mountains for 66km to Takachiho. The misty rain made for a very pretty drive, with splashes of autumn colour amongst green forests, and mists drifting through. Speed limits are low, 40-50 kph, so it was quite safe at this time of year. We stopped at a roadhouse close to Takachiho for lunch.
The view coming down into the gorge was lovely, crossing small bridges, seeing autumn colour and drifting mists. Directed past the Ohashi parking lot, we paid ¥300 at the Araragi lot. Typical of service in Japan, the attendant guided us into a larger slot, supplied English maps and pointed out the paths. Standing on the Shinbashi bridge at the foot of the carpark gives inspiring views both ways along the gorge.
Crossing the bridge I went down some stairs then along a paved path for about one kilometre through the gorge to the Manai waterfall and boat rowing area, below the Mihashi bridge.
Everything was wet from the soft, very light rain, and mists passing through the autumn foliage made the scene quite magical.
I had not expected the area to be so pretty. Takachiho Gorge is really a jewel at the end of a nice drive.
We returned via #325 to Minamiaso, through the southern Aso ranges, another very pretty drive, then took #57 back to Kumamoto.