Guide to Miyazaki, Japan 宮崎県

Miyazaki is a blend of Hawaii and California in Japan. It is the place for all island lovers, especially if surfing is your thing. Miyazaki is home to some of the best surf spots in Japan and some of the best beef you will ever taste in your life! You often hear about Kobe beef overseas but damn, Miyazaki beef is SO underrated and you HAVE to try it at some point. It is also really peaceful on this side of Japan. Any prefecture on the Kyushu seems to be big on slow living.

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A week and a half is a good amount of time to explore Miyazaki at your own pace. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself rushing through it like I did. There is so much to see if you love the outdoors. I spent a long weekend (3 days) in Miyazaki and solo explored it. I even got to hit some waves with FirstTrip Surf & Vintage (it was ¥6000 for an hour and a half).

They are awesome Surf instructors and Miyazaki guides! They answered all my questions prior to meeting them and took me around Miyazaki after our surf session.

Miyazakians are super friendly! I learned that the prefecture has quite a big farming industry just by being on its roads too (and of course correlating that observation with Google research) Here is a round up of what to do in Miyazaki:

5. Sun Messe Nichinan

I headed to Miyazaki city via bus + train and took a bus towards Aoshima Island. On route, I dropped off my luggage at Aoshima’s Fisherman’s Beachside Hostel & Spa. It was exceptionally clean! Only one member of staff (he is from the U.S.) could speak English but we managed to communicate with my minimal Japanese and the stay was very comfortable. Then, I headed to Udo-Jingu before Sun Messe Nichinan.

The Sun Messe statues are the only replicas allowed to be made of the originals on Easter Island in Eastern Polynesia in the entire world. When I arrived I learned that it was also an amusement park and that the entrance fee was ¥700. Its opening hours were 9.30 – 17.00, I was cutting it close after travelling from Kirishima to Miyazaki, eating, dropping off my luggage, … so know that and have that in mind.

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It was definitely a cool thing to see once and you get a great view of the Nichinan coast.

4. Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

Since it was such a short weekend, I only really had time for a day and a bit at Kirishima and I wish I had more. I managed to visit the Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park but did not have the opportunity to soak in its onsens/complete other hike trails so that’s what I’ll be up to next time. This National Park is stretched across two prefectures (Kagoshima and Miyazaki).

Highly recommended for those who love hiking and being near the mountains. I was pretty determined to see Shinmoedake volcano so I had to go. Not many people know of this volcanic mountain range too, so it’s a great escape. The views reminded me of the Lake District & the Scottish highlands! The volcanic craters were really blue too, and reminded me of Banff + Indonesia. I preferred this over the statues.

From Kagoshima, take either a local (1 hr for ¥840) or limited express train (50 mins for ¥1500) to Kirishima Jingu Station and take buses heading towards Kirishima National Park.

From Miyazaki, take a local (2.5 hrs for ¥1470) or limited express train (1.5 hrs for ¥3000) to Kirishima Jingu Station, and hop on to buses towards Kirishima National Park.

(Source: Japan-guide linked!)

3. Udo-jingū 鵜戸神宮

Udo-jingū is also located on the Nichinan coast and was on the bus route. I actually visited Udo before the Sun Messe statues and probably should have done it the other way round with the time I had on hand. Udo is a Shinto shrine and is the mythical birthplace of Emperor Jimmu’s father Ugayafukiaezu.

It was absolutely breathtaking and I preferred this over the Sun Messe statues. I would come back to see this again instead of the Sun Messe so it’s ranked higher. Best part is it’s free!

2. Aoshima

After that little adventure along the Nichinan coast, I returned to Aoshima where I stayed the night. I explored the tiny island a little before my surf session the next morning. There is the Aoshima shrine that you could visit, and the Devil’s Washboard on the way to the Shrine.

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Sunset at Devil’s Washboard

The next day I surfed at 宮崎市木崎浜 (Kisakihama Surf Point). It was a good spot to brush up surfing. The waves weren’t too big! Maki and Takeda from FirstTrip Surf picked me up.

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Before leaving to Miyazaki, I grabbed hearty bowls of udon with Maki and Takeda too at Chutaro Teahouse 忠太郎茶屋. It’s their favourite udon spot after surfing. I concur! I also really like the Inari. They also recommended tons of izakaya which I’m sure I’ll hit up next time.

1. Takachiho Gorge

The last thing on this list is the Takachiho Gorge and I loved it the most! You can take a bus from Miyazaki city to Takachicho. The nearer you get to Takachiho, the more rural it will get, and the lower the frequency of buses. The bus stations look more and more sketchy too, but I came out okay.

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Accommodation was such a hassle to find. If I had to do it again, I probably wouldn’t stay overnight. I would just wake up early have do a day trip. There is a lot to see but you could probably squeeze them all in because it is a relatively small place.

The gorge is a must-see! You can rent a boat for ¥2000 for 30 minutes (3 people max per boat) and they are open from 8.30 – 16.30 (untill 18.00 in the summer) daily. Here is more information.

Other things that you could do is do a small hike to the Amanoiwato Shrine. The Shrine is in a cave! The Takachiho Shrine and Amanoiwato Shrine Nishihongu are also a pretty big one. Mount Sabo is a beautiful hike in the morning, you can see the mountain top curtained by clouds in the morning from the base of the mountain. (All of these attractions can be found on Google, and visit the tourist information centre, they have maps + the staff are fluent in English). Everything is easier if you had a car though, public transport services are pretty limited and some command of Japanese would be useful in this small town. Overall, pretty worth it though!

I flew to Kagoshima from Osaka via Peach Air and from there I used buses and JR trains to travel from Kagoshima to Miyazaki and throughout Miyazaki. It was quite easy to get around although I had a little trouble finding accomodation and communicating with the hosts near Takachiho (you would need to have some command of the Japanese language to speak to the hosts there). Other than that, I had a pretty smooth journey and I genuinely loved Miyazaki. I loved the food, the people, being near the ocean, soaking up the sun… it was Okinawa 2.0 for me. Although I could’ve planned it better, I am grateful that the trip happened the way it did because it was still pretty rad.

With Love,
N

Guide to Wakayama, Japan 和歌山県

The Wakayama Prefecture is a prefecture for all ocean lovers – from divers, surfers, waterfall hikers to snorkelling, this land of water is surrounded by clean beaches where you can touch the crystal clear ocean, beautiful coastlines and gorges and breathtaking waterfall hikes. It is 100% for all you ramen lovers and loud slurpers too. It is not a particularly large prefecture, but allocate a weekend at the very least if you are planning to explore this magical land of water.

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Wakayama Castle in Wakayama City

We spent an entire weekend in Wakayama and it was not enough, especially for me. If I have the chance to return to Wakayama (I really hope I do), I hope that I can do more waterfall hikes and maybe not miss a bus to catch a flight to Singapore (my friend did). I also want to see the Doro-Kyo Gorge, it looks so gorgeous. Fortunately, I travelled to Miyazaki and managed to kayak down the Takachiho Gorge (Kyūshū region) as well as to Tokushima and cruised down the Iya Valley (Shikoku region).Evidently, I can’t get enough of the ocean.

So what can you do in Wakayama? The capital city of Wakayama Prefecture is Wakayama where we stayed a night, but we enjoyed being next to the coast more so there is where we spent a majority of our time (all the action took place there any way!). To get to Wakayama you can take the train or bus. You can check the timetables for the JR West railway and bus (JR West focuses on the Kansai area). I prefer booking the bus on Willer to Wakayama City and figuring out day passes for trains at the central station you get dropped off at especially if you are on a budget (buses are relatively cheaper or purchase a JR pass before you fly to Japan, it’s cheaper. This article explains it well.)

Accommodation wise, there are lots of guesthouses that you can look up on Hostelworld. We highly recommend Guesthouse Rico if you are in the city – the service was excellent, you can sleep tatami style and everything was clean. There is also a great family-ran ramen place called Tsuta (first Michelin-Starred ramen too!) and after trying lots of ramen, Wakayama Style ramen is quite frankly the top of my list – you HAVE to try it! AJI ramen opened until late and we had a great experience too (Cash-Only).

Enough of the logistics – here are my favourite spots in Wakayama so far:

1. Porto Europe and Kuroshio Market

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Windy Day at Porto Europe

We started off the trip walking around Wakayama City and bused out to the Marina area: Porto Europe – a theme park and replica of European streets and architecture so if you are ever missing Europe, you could pay this quaint little place a visit. It is also right next to the real attraction in my heart: the Kuroshio Market.

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Delicious Tuna Nigiri at Kuroshio Market

Kuroshio Market is located in Marina City, and is famous for its tuna cutting shows that take place three times a day. Even Zac Efron watched in awe as a giant tuna is skillfully cut! Kuroshio Market is the place to go for fresh local products and yummy meals.

2. Shirahama Beach

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Shirahama Beach

Shirahama is a stunning seaside district known for its clean, white-sand beach & its slow and relaxing atmosphere. This area boasts the best beach in all of the Kansai region and is home to many historic onsens (i.e. Saki-no-yu) and seafood fare. Highly recommend going to any izakaya nearby and spend the night singing away karaoke. For enthusiastic divers or to-be licensed divers, the Shirahama neighbourhood is also known to mother beautiful corals too. Everything is relatively nearby in Shirahama Town, and you can get around by foot reasonably.

3. Shirasaki Coast

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Shirasaki Coast

The Shirasaki Coast left us speechless. This long, chalky cape that resembles an iceberg faces a deep blue ocean and is a wonderful natural sight to the eye. This unspoiled beauty is unusually formed by a group of limestone rocks 250 million years ago. Even the Official Wakayama Tourism Board thinks this is a must-see during the day or at sunset because the rock reflects the colour of the sky and the sunset.

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Little Mermaid at a beach nearby Shirasaki Coast!

It was a little challenging to get to the coast, we had to taxi from a nearby station and hitched a ride back from a friendly diver. It was also a little far from Shirahama town, you have to take the train to get there. However, people are really friendly, and it was a very safe area so you don’t have much to worry about other than the cab fare which are known to be crazy in Japan. Remember to go back to the train on time if you aren’t staying overnight too, services are more limited in less busy areas such as this.

4. Senjojiki

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We decided to hit up yet another rock formation. This venue was accessible by public bus from Shirahama Town, just remember to keep the bus routes map and bus timetables that are offered to you (goes for ANYWHERE in Japan!) so that you know. It was a little bit of a search and a bit of a walking distance from the bus station but it was worth it.

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Senjojiki means a thousand tatami mats in English. You can see why when you see layers of flat rocks piled up in an unorganized manner. The best thing about these cliffs is that you can walk close to the edges and breath in the fresh air whilst you feel the breeze of the ocean. There are people fishing and you can observe small sea creatures atop the rocks near the edges of the cliffs too. Superb to start the day with and an excellent but underrated tourist attraction, the second best thing is that it is not crowded!

5. Nachi Falls

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Nachi Waterfall

This well-known waterfall is the highest waterfall in Japan (133m), located in a sacred site in Kumano where nature worship still takes place today and is the object of worship of Hiro-jinja Shrine (associated with Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine). There are different versions of the hike up to this view too, make sure you google and know which route you are taking. This view is 100% worth the hike, and man, the calorie burn just means you can eat more after.

Wakayama is amongst my top 5 prefectures to visit in Japan. Maybe because it reminds me of Brighton, U.K. It’s near the ocean, is blessed with beautiful coastlines and cliffs s instead of pubs, is filled with local izakayas that serves bloody fresh seafare.

I received most of the information to see all these places on the Visit Wakayama Website. Take a look at it for more inspiration. The unspoiled landscapes and relaxing vibes certainly makes it worth the extra bit travel from Osaka or Tokyo if you are flying from overseas. I have also linked all the places mentioned to their respective Google Map location so that you can save them to your list. I hope this helps your planning and that your trip to Wakayama is just as amazing.

Xoxo,

Nicole