Visit the cave of the legend where the Sun Goddess hid herself
At Takachiho, the birthplace of Japanese myths
According to a Japanese myth, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu-omikami hid herself in a cave called Amanoiwato to avoid Susanoo-no-mikoto, her brother. This is an interpretation of a solar eclipse by ancient Japanese. Tradition says that Amano Iwato Shrine is dedicated to the cave. It is not clear when the shrine was founded but it is said that Higashihongu (east hall) was built during the 9th century.
The main shrine called Higashihongu and a hall of worship called Nishihongu (west hall) face each other across the Iwato River gorge. Amano Iwato cave is the object of worship in festivals and is a rock cave yawning on the other side of the Iwato River from Nishihongu. You can view the cave from Nishihongu after participating in a Shinto ritual for purification. Photography is prohibited.
The grounds are a treasure house of plants, including old trees. Fall leaves around Nishihongu paint the whole surroundings with a sublime and delicate beauty in fall. There are also rare ancient ginkgo and michelia compressa trees, which have been sacred in Japan since ancient times.
Address: Iwato, Takachiho-cho, Miyazaki
Phone: 0982-73-1213 (Takachiho-Town Tourism Association)
Admission Fee: Free entry to the grounds
Directions: [From Tokyo to Miyazaki]1h 45 min from Haneda to Miyazaki Airport, and 10 min from the airport to Miyazaki Station by JR Miyazaki Airport Line, or 4h 35 min from Tokyo to Kokura Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line, and 3h 40 min from Kokura to Nobeoka Station by JR Nippo Line (limited express).
[From Osaka to Miyazaki]1h 5 min from Itami or Kansai International Airport to Miyazaki Airport, or 2h 20 min from Shin-Osaka to Miyazaki Station by Shinkansen.
[From Fukuoka]4 hours and 20 min from Hakata station to Nabeoka Station by train.
[From Miyazaki Airport to Takachiho Shrine]Take JR Train from Miyazaki Airport to Nabeoka Sta. (80 min) One hour and 16 minutes by Miyako Bus for Takachiho from Nobeoka Station on Nippo Honsen to the last stop, 16 minutes bus ride from Takachino Bus Center to Amanoiwato-Jinjamae Stop. (Car) 2 hours from Matsubase Interchange on the Kyushu Expressway.