The beaches that line the Miyazaki Prefecture next to the Hyuga Nada Sea are the best spots to catch a wave or two.
So good, that Okuragahama beach was selected as one of Japan’s 100 best beaches. Surfers from all over Kyushu come to Kaguchihama beach to participate in the Takanabe Open Surfing Contest in July and the All Kyushu Student Surfing Tournament in the middle of November.
This means that the long beach from Hyuga to Miyazaki gets very very busy! Fortunately I was headed to Aoshima, a prime, but still quiet beach for surfers to ride waves.
Admittedly, I didn’t come for the surf, I stayed in a really cool surfers guesthouse a couple minutes walk from the beach.
Staying in Aoshima felt like hanging out in a local beach town in Cornwall, there was a large percentage of English-speaking residents working and staying here to surf. The weather was also particularly grey that day!
I met a super-relaxed Sicilian, who was also keen hiker, Everest base to 5000m being on his completed list.
A couple days earlier he had also hiked Mt Aso, right into the crater (being unable to read Japanese warning signs can be an advantage for a thrill-seeking gaijin!) He told me that the roads and top ropeway station were completely destroyed after the earthquake, maybe one of the reasons that a 1km radius around the crater was forbidden entry.
My second roomie was a really bubbly Indian girl who had made it all the way down here via the Shinkansen on the Japan Rail Pass from Hiroshima. She was travelling purely on recommendation from other travellers and locals – wherever they told her was good, she would go!
We decided to hit up Aoshima Island, one of the most popular destinations in Miyazaki that holds a beautiful shinto shrine. This is a shrine for marriage, allegedly built before 820. In ancient times, the whole island was sacred ground and until the Edo period (1603) entry onto the island was not permitted.
Hidden in the lush forest, is a tunnel of palm trees leading to a wishing site for couples.
Everything was super colourful, keeping up that tropical island vibe.
There were thousands of delicate ceramic plates scattered around the floor which made me curious. I managed to make out that you should toss the disk towards the folded little white Shide (paper), and if the disk stays unbroken, then your love will be eternal. If it breaks, then you will be broken-hearted.
Nam and I decided not to push our luck as we were already in a dire state so we appreciated the thousands of hopeful tries that others had done before us. Many were unbroken!
After dropping Nam and Alberto off at Miyazaki station, I headed to another shrine in the heart of the City. Miyazaki Shrine.
This shrine is dedicated to Japan’s first Emperor Jimmu. The shrine’s buildings are almost all constructed of Sugi (cedar), and the grounds are set in a thick cedar forest.
Miyazaki has a large green park in the centre called Miyazaki Kenritsu Heiwadai Park. It has a nice hour-long route around wide lakes and through the forest, making it a good place to catch up with nature between everyday city life.
Heiwadai Park was used as the starting point for the Tokyo Olympics second torch relay in 1964, and the original platform is still there.
In one section, I came face-to-face with hundreds of ceramic statues that took the form of warriors and war horses.
The Haniwa were used to protect the secret burial mounds in the late 3rd and 7th century and 400 of these characters were excavated from all over Japan and replicated. A sweet old man I met said that each figure has a unique face. They have a spiritual aura about them that gives this part of the park a tranquil feeling.
Warning: Along your walk, you may find some interesting wildlife… I almost stepped on this little guy! Eek!
Mixed Dorm Room (bunk bed or tatami): 2500¥ pp
Private Room (sleeps 2): 6000¥ per room
Check in: from 15:00 to 21:30,
Check out: AM 11:45
Free Wifi, Free Parking, Bicycle Hire, Laundry, Kitchen, Small Mixed Share Rooms, 2 minutes walk to beach.
Parking in Miyazaki city is timed and expensive, but parking in Miyazaki Kenritsu Heiwadai Park is free, until 8pm, and is about 20 minutes walk from the Miyazaki Shrine.