Formed from the division of the Hyuga province after the Meiji Restoration, Miyazaki, which nicknamed the "sunny, green country,” is a rural prefecture having a population just over 1 million and facing the Pacific Ocean on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Located between the Takachiho gorge in the north and Mt. Kirishima the south, both of which are steeped in Japanese mythology, and with about 12 percent of its land area consisting of national parks, Miyazaki abounds with scenic areas. It semi-tropical climate and palm trees lining its surf-friendly beeches led to the area becoming a popular domestic vacation spot, particularly for honeymooners, before the advent of inexpensive overseas travel in the mid-80s. However, tourism still remains as an important part of the local economy with many resorts and sports facilities. The area is also known for raising horses, and many professional baseball teams hold spring training and exhibition games in Miyazaki.
Miyazaki City is unique as a capital city without a castle forming its historical nexus. Then, Miyakonojo is the next largest city. There are approximately 30 English conversation schools (excluding branches) in Miyazaki that employ native English speakers with most of them located in these two cities. Agriculture has been a major industry in Miyazaki with the area ranking number one in Japan for production of beef, pork and chicken. Then, forestry and fishing have also been traditional occupations in Miyazaki with a spattering of industry particularly in food/drink production as well as life sciences. In recent years the area has seen an explosion in solar farms taking advantage of more direct contact with the sun at the lower latitude as well as an abundance of government-sponsored loans for such renewable energy production.
The first thing of note upon arrival in Miyazaki is its beautiful award-winning airport design. There are two major museums in the capital city, the Science Museum focusing on physics and space, and the Prefectural Museum with its focus on local history and nature. Heiwadai Park with its two-acre Haniwa Garden and "Peace Tower" (with an identity crisis) is also located in the capital and a popular destination. The park became popular with honeymooners after Princess Shimazu visited during her honeymoon in 1960. Meanwhile, the 36-meter Peace Tower was constructed in 1940 to memorialize the installment of Japan's first emperor, Jimmu. It was named Hakko-Ichiu Tower after the Imperial Japanese Army slogan, meaning "Eight World Regions Under One Roof" using stones gathered from around the Japanese Empire of that time. U.S. occupation officials demanded removal of the name, which was later replaced with the name "Peace Tower." Some people say the tower now memorializes the horrors of war while others question its credentials as a "peace" tower. Then cultural nationalists are petitioning for a return to its former name.
Seagaia is a leisure resort on the outskirts of Miyazaki City. Quaint Aoshima Island with Aoshima Shrine is located just outside the city, and there is the Aoshima Subtropical Botanical Garden nearby on the mainland. Miyazaki Shrine is located in the city center with a large park, and in Nichinan, Udo Shrine has been constructed at a cliff side cave and said to be the mythical birthplace of Emperor Jimmu's father Ugayafukiaezu. For nature lovers, there are breathtaking scenes with spectacular waterfalls in the Takachiho gorge to the north and a large Kirishima National Park with volcanic mountain range and several live volcanoes to the south.
In Miyazaki City, the Miyazaki Shrine Grand Festival is held at the end of October and is commonly called “Jimmu Sama” (after Japan's first emperor). Processions depicting historical scenes moves through city streets, and there is a Shanshan horse parade with brides riding on top of decorated horses. As the sun goes down, Tachibana Dori is closed off for traffice with stages, events, etc. On Arpil 3, a yabusame (horseback archery) festival is held under blooming cherry blossoms. Riders in Kamakura bushido costumes shoot at targets while galloping along on horses. In Miyakonojo City, the Okage Matsuri is held in the first week of July with fantastic floats paraded through the street and an omikoshi making its way to Kanbashira Shrine where there will be food stands and fireworks.
Miyzaki is a major producer of shochu (Japanese vodka-like potato or grain spirit), and its cuisine includes: Miyazaki beef, Katsuo Aburiju (charcoal-grilled bonito), Kushima yellowfin farmed in the Kuroshiro current, sturgeon sushi sourced from Kobayashi City, fugu-don (blowfish on rice), rolled cabbage on rice from Takanabe-cho (largest cabbage producing region in Kyushu), tokuhoru-don (marinated pork offal on rice), hama udon (with mahi-mahi powder added to the noodles, hamo eel, etc. Then, many dishes are served with locally grown cabbage and mangoes.