Takamori village   高森

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Mount Nekodake

Takamori Yusui Tunnel Park

Takamori Yusui Tunnel Park

Kamishikimi Kumano Imasu

Kusabe Yoshikami shrine

A Kyushu hidden gem

The village of Takamori is on Kyushu island. It's at the foot of Mount Aso, an active volcano in Kumamoto prefecture, located southwest of the huge caldera. It has been on the list of the most beautiful villages in Japan since 2013.

The nature is beautiful in this region thanks to the proximity of Mount Aso, which offers green landscapes all year long, and the nearby village of Takachiho (Miyazaki Prefecture), which is culturally influenced by the legends of Amaterasu.

See also: Kumamoto and Aso Travel Guide

Mount Nekodake

This mountain is the symbol of the village of Takamori, because it resembles the shape of a cat, neko in Japanese, with pointed ears. The mountain is part of the chain of volcanic mountains of Aso, and is one of the oldest of the peaks. It's possible to hike for experienced climbers.

Takamori Yusui Tunnel Park

In the mid-1970s, construction work on a railway tunnel took place, but after two kilometers of progress, the discovery of a large water source meant the tunnelling couldn't continue safely. The authorities decided to abandon the initial project, and instead transformed it into a public park. Attractively decorated with luminous lanterns, it's a pleasure to visit on rainy days or during the summer heat. Today, the water source has become the main water supply of the village.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

The spiritual depth of this shinto shrine is amazing - buried in the heart of a cypress forest, you must climb the 260 steps of a stone staircase to access it. A path dotted with a hundred toro, stone lanterns covered with green moss, helps create a mythical atmosphere, mysterious and calm, to help you find inner peace.

The area inspired the animated film Hotarubi no mori e (literally "Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light"). You will also find the Hogetoiwa/Ugetoiwa - a huge rock with a 10 meter-large natural hole, it's an iwakura, a sacred rock and believed to bring success as you approach its entry.

To read: Hunting fireflies

Kusakabe Yoshimi Shrine

This shrine, one of only three kudarimiya ("descending shrines"), is special in Japan because visitors don't climb to the top of a sacred mountain as usual, but instead go down a long descending staircase of 130 steps. A shrine located at the bottom of some stairs is something of a rarity in Japan.

Fuchin-sai

Takamori is 'the village of the wind', which can get pretty forceful! So, as much to calm high winds as to ensure a good harvest of rice, a popular family festival has been held in August in the village for over 300 years. A parade of floats is carried through the streets, and each is created by the inhabitants themselves using household objects: kitchen utensils, cleaning, bathroom... It's quite original!

Torokko

A torokko is a train with an open top or sides, letting passengers travel with their hair blowing in the wind! From March to November, on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, travelers can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the region in this way thanks to the torokko train run by the small private train company Minami Aso Tetsudo.

To take it, access is from Takamori station, then after the ride buses operate to take passengers to the cities of Kumamoto or Nobeoka, on the opposite side of the Pacific coast.


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