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Recommended Road Trip Itinerary for Traveling Around Kagoshima and Miyazaki

Miyazaki and Kagoshima in southern Kyushu are teeming with nature. A great number of famous spots is spread across a vast area, so it's most convenient to visit them by car. Here's a recommended road trip itinerary for traveling around Miyazaki and Kagoshima by rental car, starting in Miyazaki City.

1. Aoshima Shrine (Time Required: About 1 hour)

The first spot on the route is Aoshima Shrine, located on a small island of the same name. Lush swathes of subtropical plants fill the shrine grounds, giving off a Miyazaki-like atmosphere befitting its location in southern Japan. This sacred ground boasts a history of over 1,000 years and is famous as a place of pilgrimage for those looking for luck in marriage. There are a number of unique ways to get your prayer heard at this shrine, with the koyori (a type of twisted string made of Japanese paper), which you tie to a tree to complete the prayer, being particularly popular. The color of the koyori differs depending on what type of prayer you're making.

▼How to get here▼
It takes 30 minutes by car from the center of Miyazaki City to the free parking space in front of JR Aoshima Station. From there, walk across the bridge (10 min), or take one of the three-wheeled rickshaws at the entrance to the bridge, which operate via a tip system.

1. Aoshima Shrine (Time Required: About 1 hour)

2-13-1 Aoshima, Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki

2. Nichinan Coastline (Time Required: About 1 hour)

Once you have finished praying at the shrine, go on a drive along the Nichinan Coastline! This coastline stretches from Aoshima to Cape Toi, the southernmost point in Miyazaki Prefecture, and is packed full of sites popular with social media gurus, such as the "Sun Messe Nichinan", which features 7 giant Moai statues lined up along the coast. Along the Horikiri Pass, visitors can get a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. With the blue skies, blue seas, luscious subtropical plants, strangely shaped rocks, and bizarre stones found here all weaving together to create a beautiful scenery, this is a must-see stop on your trip. About 1km south of the pass, the "Michi-no-Eki Phoenix" site is popular with tourists for the magnificent views on offer. At the restaurant here, patrons can enjoy gorgeous views of the sea over lunch.

▼How to get here▼
It takes 7 minutes to get from the front of JR Aoshima Station to the Horikiri Pass by car.

2. Nichinan Coastline (Time Required: About 1 hour)

381-1 Uchiumi, Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki

3. Udo Shrine (Time Required: About 1 hour)

Udo Shrine is situated along the Nichinan Coastline and is a must-see for any visitor in the area. The path leading up to this shrine runs along a steep cliff. A brilliant contrast is drawn between the deep blue of the sea and the vermilion lacquered fences that line the path. The austere and richly colored inner sanctuary of the shrine is situated within a cave at the base of a cliff. The shrine is said to aid in the safe delivery of children and bring lasting happiness to married couples. Once you are finished praying, why not purchase a set of Undama (5 for 100 JPY)? Testing one's luck by throwing these small ceramic balls towards designated rock targets is a popular activity. If your undama lands in the hollow in the back of the rock, then it is said that you will have good luck.

▼How to get here▼
The Udo Shrine is approximately 30-minute drive from the Michi-no-Eki Phoenix.

3. Udo Shrine (Time Required: About 1 hour)

3232 Oaza Miyaura, Nichinan-shi, Miyazaki

4. Shiroyama Observatory (Time Required: About 1 hour)

The next destination is the Shiroyama Observatory, one of Kagoshima's most famous tourist sites. Shiroyama is a small mountain offering breathtaking views, and on its summit is an observatory from which you can look out on Sakurajima Island, known as one of the symbols of Kagoshima. Sakurajima Island is home to an active volcano, and depending on the day, you may get the chance to see the dramatic scene of smoke rising high into the sky above it. The beautiful nighttime scenery of the city after sunset is highly renowned. The area around the observatory is a treasure trove of diverse plants with more than 600 different types of temperate and subtropical plants growing naturally, so why not enjoy a leisurely stroll around the grounds on the footpath?

▼How to get here▼
It takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get here by car from Udo Shrine.

4. Shiroyama Observatory (Time Required: About 1 hour)

Shiroyama-cho, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima

5. Ibusuki Onsen

The final stop on the trip is Ibusuki Onsen, a representative hot spring area of Kagoshima in which you can rest your tired body after your trip. This area is famous for its coastal Sunamushi Hot Springs. A rarity anywhere in the world, it's a place where bathers are covered with sand that has been warmed by the hot springs. You are sure to feel refreshed after warming your body up with the sand while listening to the comforting sounds of the tide. It's believed to encourage blood circulation and is good for skin, nerve pain, and muscle pain. If you are looking to drop in to experience the sand baths, the "Sunamushi Sand Bath Hall Saraku" one day packages come highly recommended.

Sample prices for the sand baths (Sunamushi Sand Bath Hall Saraku): Adults (Middle school students and above) 1,080 JPY, Children (Elementary school students and younger) 590 JPY
▼How to get here▼
It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to get here via car from the Shiroyama Observatory.

5. Ibusuki Onsen

Junicho, Ibusuki-shi, Kagoshima

If this article has managed to pique your interest, make sure to leverage this itinerary when you plan your drive around Kagoshima and Miyazaki. Happy driving!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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