As I mentioned yesterday, today’s agenda consisted of a day-trip to Takachiho Gorge, a ravine cut into the mountains in the very north of Miyazaki prefecture (which Aoshima, the town I’m staying in, is). Takachiho Gorge is very famous among the Japanese but seldom visited by foreigners I believe, mostly because it’s not heavily advertised and because it is a little out of the way to reach conveniently.
The ravine’s fame is largely due to the legend of the Shinto Sun Goddess, Amaterasu. Teased by her mischievous brother, Amaterasu hid deep inside a cave, reportedly within the gorge, and plunged the world into darkness since she was the light. Eventually, the other gods and goddesses pleaded with her to come out because the world needed the sun. So, she returned and everyone lived happily ever after.
The ravine itself can be viewed from two different vantages. One, which I did, is from above, through a short walking trail and mini-bridges. The other, by a row boat through the ravine itself. I opted against this because it was easier to navigate and see the scenery from above, and because I didn’t much feel like rowing a paddle boat solo.
The color of the water, a really strong turquoise, combined with the huge overhanging rocks and greenery was definitely worth the 4-hour journey (one way) by a local train and bus that steered a little too close to the edge railings for my liking.
I eventually made it back to my hostel in Aoshima around 9:30 PM. Oh, I forgot to describe my hostel, didn’t I? As a preface, Aoshima (and Miyazaki’s coast as a whole) is probably the surf capital of Japan, and so has a very California and Hawaiian-esque feel to it. I see many men here with long hair, aloha shirts, and a general relaxed outlook towards life you definitely don’t normally see among suited-up salarymen riding the subway in Tokyo.
The owner of my hostel, Toshi, works as a salesman for Dell Computers during the day, and then manages the hostel at night. Him and his surfer friends spend much of the evening sitting in the common area watching surfing videos and discussing the beauty of waves. I can’t say I was able to contribute much to their conversation, but it was fun nonetheless and they were very pleased to speak Japanese with me.
Tomorrow, I think I will do some sightseeing around Aoshima this time, since I haven’t really gone aroumd town yet. It’s a very small town, but the people are extremely warm and they sure love American culture (particularly California)!