Takachiho: Descent To Earth Of The Grandson
Japanese myth says that the grandson of the sun goddess in the heaven descended to Takachiho, and there are 2 places for the site. One is Takachiho-cho town in the northern part of Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu, and the other is Mt. Takachiho-mine in the Kirishima Mountain Range located on the border between Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures. Takachiho-cho town is famous for the beautiful scenery of Takachiho Gorge, and there are some old shrines related to the myth such as Takachiho Shrine and Kushifuru Shrine. On the other hand Mt. Takachiho-mine is famous for “Amanosakahoko”, the sword the grandson thrust at the top of the mountain, and Kirishima-Jingu Shrine at the foot. Both are the popular tourist spots for the Japanese.
In addition, Takachiho Shrine is also connected with the other old shrines introduced in this blog by the movement of the sun. It is located in the slightly south from the due west of Izanagi-Jingu Shrine in Awaji, which corresponds to the direction that the sun sets at the winter solstice.
The Descent to Earth of The Grandson of The Sun Goddess
After the transfer of the land in Izumo, the sun goddess “Amaterasu” in the heaven became the ruler of Japanese islands, and told her grandson “Ninigi” to descend. When “Ninigi” came to the border between the heaven and the earth, he met a deity “Sarutahiko” who guided him to Japanese islands, and at last descended to “Kujifuru-take” in Takachiho. It is said that “Amaterasu” gave “Ninigi” the rice plants in the heaven so that he could make the islands prosperous.
One day “Ninigi” met a beautiful girl “Konohana sakuya-bime” at Cape Kasasa. When he asked her father if he could marry her, the father was very happy and offered him not only “Konohana sakuya-bime” but also her elder sister “Iwanaga-hime”. However “Ninigi” returned “Iwanaga-hime” because of her ugliness, and married only “Konohana sakuya-bime”. The father was so sad to hear that, saying “I offered my two daughters together because I made a covenant that he will have an eternal life like a rock if he marries “Iwanaga-hime”, and that he will prosper like flowers on a tree if he marries “Konohana sakuya-bime”. Since he married only “Konohana sakuya-bime”, the life of himself and his descendants will be short like flowers.”
“Konohana sakuya-bime” became pregnant overnight, but “Ninigi” suspected that the child belonged to other deity. In order to disprove his suspicion she set fire to the birthing room and gave birth to three sons (“Hoderi”, “Hosuseri”, and “Hoori”) in fire. “Hoori” is the grandfather of the legendary first emperor, Jinmu.
Recommendation in Takachiho-cho Town
It is the most popular tourist spot in Takachiho-cho town. It must be a great experience for you to rent a rowboat to enjoy the beautiful gorge with Manai Waterfall, the symbol of the gorge. It is also wonderful to walk on a promenade nearby to see the gorge and some historic sites related to Japanese myth. You can also enjoy small hiking in the natural forest to Takachiho Shrine. It is about 20 minutes walk on a mountain path.
It represents other 88 shrines in Takachiho, and has been also worshipped as the important Shinto shrine associated with Japanese myth. The three generation of deities, including “Ninigi”, “Hoori”, the sun of “Hoori” and their wives, are enshrined here. There is beautiful scenery near the shrine such as Takachiho Gorge and Kunimigaoka which is famous for its panoramic view with the sea of clouds in autumn.
The shrine stands on “Kushifuru-mine”, the mountain where “Ninigi” descended from the heaven. The object enshrined here used to be the mountain itself in ancient times, but now the main hall has been built to worship “Ninigi”. There is a promenade nearby to visit the historic sites related to Japanese myth such as the place to worship the heaven.
The object enshrined here is the heavenly rock cave where the sun goddess hid herself. There is no main hall, and the visitors worship the cave across the river. There is also “Amanoyasugawara” nearby, the large cave near the river where myriads of deities got together to discuss how to get the sun goddess out of the cave. The heavenly rock cave story describes the event in the heaven, but here is a mixture of reality and mythology.
Recommendation in Mt. Takachiho-mine
This is the other place for the site where “Ninigi” descended. Passing through the gateway in Takachiho-gawara, you will walk on the approach to Furumiya-ato where used to be Kirishima-Jingu Shrine. After the worship at Furumiya-ato, you have to walk on a mountain path and climb a steep slope to get to the top of the mountain. It is famous for “Amanosakahoko“, the sword which “Ninigi” thrust after descending from the heaven.
Since the original shrine at the foot of the mountain was sometimes destroyed by volcanic eruptions and fires, the current one was constructed in 1715 where it stands today. The main deity enshrined here is “Ninigi”. It is said that he brought the rice plants to Japanese islands, and there are held some Shinto festivals for rice plants in the shrine such as Uchimaki Festival in February and Otaue Festival in March.
Kagoshima City Area
Kagoshima City is not far from Kirishima. I would like to recommend a panoramic view of Sakurajima Volcano at Shiroyama Observatory and a traditional Japanese garden Sengan-en which was recognized as World Cultural Heritage Sites related to Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution. In the garden you should not only enjoy walking but also visit the gallery shop of Satsuma Kiriko cut glass, which is expensive but a wonderful work of art. There is also the glass workshop next to Sengan-en.
I think it is the best way for you to rent a car at Kumamoto Airport to get to Takachiho-cho town. Please refer to this page for more details. On the other hand, the nearest airport to Mt. Takachiho-mine is Kagoshima Airport, and you should drive to the gateway, Takachiho-gawara, to climb the mountain. If you are planning to visit both, you should choose one of the airports to have a round trip.
I had a round trip by car to visit both Takachiho-cho town and Mt. Takachiho-mine in 2015. The route below recommends you stay at Takachiho-cho, but it must be also great to stay at Aso, that is located between Kumamoto Airport and Takachiho-cho, so that you can enjoy not only Takachiho-cho but also actual nature of Mt. Aso. To visit Mt. Takachiho-mine you should stay at Kirishima Onsen, a famous hot-spring area nearby.
|1||Kumamoto Airport -> Aso -> Takachiho-cho (car)||Aso||Takachiho-cho|
|2||Around Takachiho-cho (car)||Takachiho Gorge
|3||Takachiho-cho -> Kirishima Onsen (car)||Kirishima Onsen (Hot Spring)|
|4||Around Kirishima Area (car)||Mt. Takachiho-mine
|Kirishima Onsen (Hot Spring)|
|5||Around Kagoshima City Area (car)||Shiroyama Observatory
|Kirishima Onsen (Hot Spring)|
|6||Kirishima Onsen -> Kumamoto Airport (car)
Kumamoto Airport -> Next (plane)