Miyazaki is a popular tourist destination that feels like something out of a southern country. It is full of interesting sites, including places closely connected to Japanese mythology, as well as gourmet destinations. This article will introduce 20 things that you can do in Miyazaki.
Where Is Miyazaki Prefecture?
Miyazaki Prefecture is in the southeastern part of Kyushu. The easiest way to get there from outside the prefecture is by plane. It is about 90 minutes from Tokyo to Miyazaki Airport, about 60 minutes from Osaka, and 45 minutes from Fukuoka. Some international flights go to Miyazaki as well, and it is about 100 minutes from Seoul, 120 minutes from Taipei, and 200 minutes from Hong Kong.
This introduction to Miyazaki is organized into northern, central, eastern, and southern areas.
There are many areas around Miyazaki Prefecture that are associated with myths, such as Misogi Pond, which is said to be the birthplace of Amaterasu Omikami, the most important deity of the Shinto religion. The northern area centering on Takachiho has particularly strong connections to mythology. There are many places to visit, including Onogoro Island, which is said to be the first island of Japan, where you can feel the presence of the Shinto deities.
Visit Takachiho, One of Japan's Most Spiritual Spots
Takachiho is the land of Tenson Korin, a legend in which theShinto deity, Ninigi-no-Mikoto, descended to earth under the orders of Amaterasu Omikami. As a result, there are many historic Shinto shrines in Takachiho, the most famous of which is the Takachiho Shrine that enshrines Ninigi-no-Mikoto and other deities related to the Imperial Family. Takachiho Shrine is an ancient shrine believed to have been founded about 1,900 years ago, and is famous as a spiritual place that brings good fortune to romantic relationships and marriage. The Takachiho Kagura dance, performed at 8:00 pm every evening, is a must-see.
Another must see spot in Takachiho is the deep, V-shaped valley, Takachiho Gorge. It is a beautiful valley of majestic cliffs and mystical scenery. The Manai Falls, which is said to have been created with the water that was brought down to earth at the time of Tenson Korin, is not to be missed. Rent a rowboat and get right up to the waterfall where you can feel the sprays and witness its power.
Rowboat rental fee: 2,000 JPY/30 minutes
*Maximum capacity is 3 people per boat (4 if there is a child under elementary school age). Boat rental is not available when the water level is high.
Amano Iwato Jinja with a Beautiful, Dignified Atmosphere
Amanoiwato-gakure is a Japanese mythology in which Amaterasu Omikami despairs of his brother's wickedness and hides in a cave. Amano Iwato is the scene of this myth. The shrine is a simple, refined building, while the grounds have a solemn atmosphere.
If you are going to Amano Iwato Jinja, make sure to also visit Amano Yasugawara, which is around a 10-minute walk away. It is said that all the deities who were troubled at the time of Amanoiwato-gakure gathered in this area. There are numerous stacks of stones, as well as a torii gate standing on its own. This is a great place for taking photographs.
Will Your Wishes Come True? Fantastic Views from the Sea Cross
The Sea Cross is located at the southern tip of Nippo Kaigan Quasi-National Park overlooking a beautiful ocean. It is an area where the coast has been eroded in such a way that the sea around it forms the shape of a cross. Combined with the small rocky area beside it, it creates the kanji character "叶", which means "to come true", giving birth to the belief that your wishes will come true if you visit this place. Once you've had your fill of this romantic coastal area, go up to the sharp 70m cliff, Umagase, which is the tallest cliff in Japan. It is about 5 minutes by car to the cliff from the observatory.
This is the area in which the main city of the prefecture, Miyazaki City, and Miyazaki Airport are located. It also has many spots related to Japanese mythology, such as Miyazaki Shrine. It faces the Pacific Ocean, and is also famous as a resort area where you can enjoy swimming, surfing, and more.
Escape from Reality at Phoenix Seagaia Resort
This is a huge resort that spans approximately 11km north to south along the Pacific Ocean. It has numerous luxurious facilities centering on the 154m-tall hotel, Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort. The Living Garden, which was renovated and reopened in 2017 under the concept of "waterside living for adults", has sofas and beds placed around an outdoor pool, where guests can relax and enjoy food and drinks. There is also a golf course and a horseback riding club, so there is something for everyone. There are onsen hot springs and a spa to relax in after a day of fun and activities.
Go for a Leisurely Stroll Around Heiwadai Park
This is a park known for its seasonal beauty. It also has a variety of facilities, such as an athletics field and artificial turf ski slope, and is recommended for children. Be sure to see the park's symbol, the Tower of Peace. It has a unique design that was inspired by "gohei" staff used for Shinto ceremonies, and has a different appearance depending on the angle and lighting. The Haniwa-en with haniwa (ancient terracotta figures) placed on raised ground in the shape of an ancient burial ground is also popular as creating a feel of ancient times.
The Miyazaki Specialty, Chicken Nanban
Chicken Nanban is one of Miyazaki's most famous local specialty dishes. It is chicken in an egg-based batter, deep fried and marinated in sweet vinegar. Outside of Miyazaki, it is common to add tartar sauce, but in Miyazaki, it is usually eaten without sauce. Ogura Honten in Miyazaki City is famous for chicken nanban with tartar sauce, and Naochan in Nobeoka City for chicken nanban without tartar sauce. Chicken nanban is served at most restaurants in the prefecture, so be sure to try it while you're in Miyazaki!
Charcoal-grilled Chicken - Enjoy Jidori Chicken from Miyazaki
Jidori (free-range local chicken) is another food Miyazaki is famous for. It has just the right texture, and the umami (Japanese savory taste) is enhanced the more you chew it. It can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways, like as karaage (deep-fried), chicken nanban, and sashimi, but you should try it grilled over charcoal. The chicken is grilled quickly to lock in its juices and concentrate the umami. The aroma of the charcoal also whets the appetite. Charcoal-grilled jidori goes perfectly with local shochu and sake.
Enjoy the Summer Classic, Hiyajiru
If you are in Miyazaki in the summer, be sure to try Hiyajiru, a regional dish of flaked grilled fish mixed with condiments and miso, and thinned in cold stock, which is then poured over piping hot rice. It is a tradition in Miyazaki to enjoy the refreshing flavors of Hiyajiru in the summer. It goes down easily even if you don't have an appetite, so it is great when you are fatigued by the hot summer. The ingredients can vary, from the standard cucumber and tofu, to almond and cream cheese. Trying different types of Hiyajiru is one of the highlights of traveling around Miyazaki.
The Western Area is rich with nature, with 1,700m tall Mt. Karakuni, the Ebino Kogen highlands with numerous crater lakes, and more. There are also many places to see beautiful flowers, such as one of Japan's leading parks for rhododendrons, Shakunage-no-Mori Park, and Shiibae Park, which has approximately 60,000 azalea shrubs.
A UNECO Eco-park! Go to the Ayanoteruha Suspension Bridge
Aya-cho is an area with the largest evergreen forest in Japan, spanning approximately 25 sq.km. It is home to some animals indigenous to Japan, such as Japanese serow, and it is designated as a UNESCO Eco-park. A famous spot in this evergreen forest is the 250m Ayanoteruha Otsuri Bridge, which is one of the world's longest suspension footbridges. Walk onto it for a fantastic panoramic view from 142m up in the air. The walk can be quite thrilling too, as the bridge is only about 1m wide. There is a walking trail of about 2km on the other side of the bridge, so you can take a leisurely stroll in the forest.
Entrance fee: 350 JPY
Enjoy the Beautiful Flower Fields of Ikoma Plateau
This is a plateau that is at an altitude of 540m. It is famous for its flower fields that bloom with different flowers each season, with the majestic Kirishima mountain range in the background. There are poppies from mid-April to late May, and crape myrtle and salvia from mid-July to late August, but the best season is late September to late October, when approximately one million multi-colored cosmoses of 17 varieties create a fantastic landscape. There are apple fields in the vicinity where you can go apple picking, as well as an astronomical observatory. This is a place where you can enjoy the rich nature in a variety of different ways.
Entrance fee: 520 JPY/adult (high school age and older), 300 JPY/junior high school age, free for elementary school age and younger
Go Trekking in the Nature-rich Ebino Plateau
This is a plateau at an altitude of 1,200m, surrounded by majestic mountains. There are fantastic views from it, such as the crater lake, Rokkanon Pond, with acidic water with a shimmering, cobalt blue surface. The area is filled with rich nature and is a popular place for trekking. The best time to go is between spring and early summer, when you can see a shrub in the rose family called Nokaido (Malus spontanea), that is native only to this area. The colorful foliage of the fall is also well worth seeing. The Ebino Eco Museum Center, which is the visitor center, has information about the area and is a great base for sightseeing.
The southern part of the prefecture has a southern island feel with sub-tropical plants and an azure ocean. The coastline, which is generally referred to as Nichinan Kaigan, has many unique spots.
Visit Udo-jingu, with Matchmaking Powers
Udo-jingu is a Shinto shrine located at the tip of Cape Udozaki. The path to the shrine runs along sharp cliffs with rough waves crashing into them, and with the crimson gate and fences that stand out against the blue ocean. The main shrine building is a richly colored structure inside a cave facing the ocean, and the shrine is said to bring good fortune in matchmaking, easy childbirth and safety at sea. Once you've visited the shrine, be sure to stop by the Reiseki Kameishi rock in front of the main shrine building. Purchase the beads called Undama (100 JPY for 5 at the shrine office), and throw them at the rock (men must throw left-handed and women right-handed). It is said that if the stone goes into the dent on top of the rock, your wishes will come true.
A Shrine with a Tropical Feel - Aoshima Shrine
Aoshima is a small island with a tropical feel that is covered with tropical and subtropical vegetation. It was once a sacred place that was closed to visitors. Aoshima Shrine on the island is famous as a matchmaking "power spot" (a place with mystical energy). There is a variety of interesting customs to try here, such as the Musubi Koyori, where you tie koyori string made with twisted paper in the color that represents your wishes.
There is a bridge from Aoshima Beach to Aoshima. You can cross on foot, but it is easier to take the auto rickshaw, Aoshima Tuk-tuk Trolly.
Sunmesse Nichinan, Full of Photogenic Spots
Sunmesse Nichinan is a theme park in Nichinan City. The seven Moai Statues that stand with the azure ocean in the background provide a great photo opportunity. The statues are actually not simple replicas, but are complete reproductions made with permission from the senior council of Easter Island. There is a rumor that simply touching the statues will improve your luck. There is much more to see in the park, such as the Butterfly Paradise, where a variety of different butterflies flutter about, as well as an exhibit of insects. There are also restaurants and baths, so you can have a full day of fun here.
Entrance fee: 700 JPY/adult, 500 JPY/junior high school age, 350 JPY/age 4 and older
Nichinan Kaigan Quasi-National Park, Offering Beautiful Views
This is a nature park that centers on Nichinan Kaigan. The strange rocks and reefs in this area covered with tropical vegetation create an unusual topography. In particular, the view from the roadside station, Michi-no-Eki Phoenix, is stunning. If you want to fully enjoy the diverse landscape, take a drive along the coast on Nichinan Phoenix Road (National Route 220). The Umisachi Yamasachi Limited Express sightseeing train that runs between Miyazaki Station and Nango Station is also popular. You can relax on the sofa seats and enjoy the fantastic views out the window.
Oni-no Sentakuita - a View Like No Other
Nichinan Kaigan has numerous scenic spots, but among it, Oni-no Sentakuita (literally translates to "the Devil's Washboard") is the most famous. The area has a rare topography that looks almost like a gigantic washboard that was created over millions of years through uplifting of the earth's crust and erosion by waves. When the tide is low, you can see beautiful stripes on the coast like that shown in the photograph. This topography stretches south from Aoshima for about 8km to Kinchaku-shima, but the view around Aoshima is the most popular. Be sure to check it out when you visit Aoshima.
Stroll Around Kyushu's Little Kyoto, the Obi Castle Town
This is an area centering on Obi Castle that flourished over 280 years from 1588. With historic samurai houses and commercial districts with retro facades creating a townscape with great atmosphere, it is sometimes called Kyushu's Little Kyoto.
There are many restaurants in the area where you can enjoy local dishes, such as the specialty Atsuyaki Tamago (thick Japanese-style omelet). If you want to walk around and enjoy various food, refer to the Ayumichan Map (700 JPY (incl. tax)), which includes English names of the food. You can tell what shops there are at a glance, and it even comes with some coupons. The map can be purchased at the information window located in the tourist parking lot of Obi Castle among other places.
Enjoy the Untouched Nature of Cape Toi
Cape Toi is a cape at the southern tip of Nichinan Kaigan. It is known for the wild Misaki-uma, a breed of pony native to Japan. At Cape Toi, you can see the ponies that are about 130cm tall grazing with the blue sky and ocean in the background. Baby ponies are born between March and August, so there are cute little ponies during that time of the year. There is much more to see around Cape Toi, such as the beautiful white Cape Toi Lighthouse and Misaki Shrine, an ancient shrine at the tip of the cape. Between June and October, you can also enjoy the unusual experience of catching flying fish.
Enjoy the Grand Nature at Izakinaba Park
Izakinaba Park is a park on Cape Izakinaba. The park has the feel of a tropical paradise with tropical plants, such as Phoenix palm trees, growing against a backdrop of the blue sky and sea. It is also a great spot from which to see what is known as Nanatsubae, consisting of a group of islands in the ocean. There is a free campsite, so you can stay and enjoy the view of Nanatsubae as its appearance changes by the hour.
Fantastic Mangoes, Perfect as a Souvenir
Miyazaki is a major producer of mangoes, the most common of which is the Apple Mango, a variety that has a skin that is red like apples. The Apple Mango is in season between mid-April and July. The mangoes in Miyazaki are picked when they are fully ripe, so they are sweeter and have a darker color than normal, and have a wonderful, floral aroma. There is also a variety of items made with mango on sale, such as pudding and cookies, that make great souvenirs. They can be purchased at Miyazaki Airport among other places.
If you're visiting Miyazaki, be sure to refer to this article when making your plans.
*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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