Overnight trip to Takachiho

Overnight trip to Takachiho

Recently, I had the chance to take a trip to Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture. Only about an hour and a half drive from Kumamoto Airport in Kyuushuu, this is not a town to be overlooked. On the way to Takachiho, you pass by Mt. Aso, an active volcano which is known for beautiful hiking, if you have the chance to stop on the way I highly recommend it.

Once arriving, my first stop was Takachiho Shrine, right around the town center this shrine is tucked into a forest of cedars and honestly without the tori gate in front you could easily miss it. Home to some pretty interesting history and quite a few major spiritual sites, it was a good way to get a peek into the story for the performance I would be seeing in the evening.

Next we were on to the Takachiho Gorge, which is probably one of the main reasons people venture out to Takachiho. While it is breathtaking to just view this gorge from up top, you can also rent a boat and head out on the water to really take in the scenery. I didn't have the chance to take out one of these boats this time but I know i'll be coming back to do so the next time I am in Miyazaki.

To end my night, I was invited to a private prayer session and a night kagura 夜神楽 event. This took place at Amano Iwate shrine, a shrine dedicated to the sun godess and the site she hid herself in a cave to get away from her unruly brother. Getting to see a shrine illuminated at night is an absolutely gorgeous experience. We were brought into the shrine where the priest performed a ritual to help us speak directly to the sun godess. After making an offering and saying our prayers, we headed towards the site where she hid herself to watch the Kagura performance.

A Kagura is a ritualistic dance perormed to honor the stories of the gods and pray for the continuance of sun and good harvests. While there are quite a few variations of Kaguras, I had the chance to see three, all pertaining to the events that caused her to exile herself in the cave and her eventual return from the cave. Takachiho is known for their Kaguras and you'll see quite a few statues of performers displayed throughout the city.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first to see this show and it was truly amazing. I imagine seeing a Kagura would already be quite the experience but seeing it in such an important site by torchlight was an unforgettable experience. I felt welcomed in by this small community and got to see into their history and culture. If you have the chance to make the trip to Takachiho I highly recommend it. 

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