Living in Japan

Why You Should Visit Miyazaki Prefecture

One of Japan’s lesser known prefectures, Miyazaki has a lot to offer anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary. In this article, we look at some of the things that make Miyazaki prefecture an appealing place to visit.

Some prefectures in Japan are more famous than others. Of course you have the big tourist draws of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido and Okinawa but some other prefectures rarely get any attention for a variety of reasons. One of these lesser travelled prefectures is tucked away on the eastern side of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands not connected to any Shinkansen lines and rarely making headlines in Japan. This is Miyazaki prefecture and one of those perfect places to visit if you’re looking for somewhere a little out of the ordinary.

Miyazaki is a largely rural prefecture located opposite Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures and directly south of Oita. It’s location can make it a little difficult to access given that it’s not connected to any Shinkansen lines but it’s warm climate and tropical feel can sometimes make it feel as though you’re visiting some far off island. This resort feel made Miyazaki Japan’s number one honeymoon destination right up until the late 1980s when Hawaii started to take over. Even though its domestic popularity has faded over the years, Miyazaki still offers a lot for anyone looking for an escape, whether it’s a long-term visit or a weekend getaway.

A Place of Myths and Legends

Throughout much of Japan’s recorded history, Miyazaki was never a huge player in the way that neighbouring Kagoshima or Kumamoto have been, but it is home to a wealth of myths and legends dating back from before that time. Miyazaki’s most famous attraction is Takachiho, a small town located in the mountains in the prefecture’s North West. Takachiho is referenced in Japan’s earliest recorded legends as the place where Japan’s imperial line began, with Ninigi, the first emperor’s grandfather, descending from the heavens under the orders of Amaterasu, the sun goddess.

Takachiho is also home to several other legends about Japanese gods with several locations tied to various stories about Amaterasu and other Shinto gods. Even today, it remains a popular tourist destination with Takachiho gorge in particular drawing in a lot of people. A beautiful serene spot in the mountains, the famous image of people paddling boats around the waterfall in the gorge is probably the first image you turn up when researching the prefecture. It’s just a small sampling of the natural beauty that Miyazaki has to offer.

Ocean Views

All along its coast, Miyazaki is home to some stunning beaches and is renowned as a famous destination for surfing in Japan. A drive along Miyazaki’s coastal road will give you some beautiful views of rocky coastlines and sandy beaches with rolling waves.

If you have the opportunity, a drive along Miyazaki’s coast is something that you should definitely do. Just south of Miyazaki city is Aoshima, a tiny island surrounded by interesting rock formations and a beautiful shrine located in a forest. Another famous shrine along the way is Udo shrine, a unique shrine built inside a cave on a cliff face. The shrine is dedicated to romance and childbirth and overlooks some beautiful ocean scenery.

Much further south is Cape Toi, a beautiful national park that is home to a population of wild Japanese horses. With stunning views overlooking the ocean, the horses are semi-tame and you’re able to get up close to them (though you shouldn’t touch them or startle them) making this a unique spot in Japan.

Southern Food Specialities

Just like any other prefecture in Japan, Miyazaki has its own range of local specialities and famous food. In terms of produce, Miyazaki is famous for mangoes. Renowned for being huge and sweet, Miyazaki mangoes fetch some startlingly high prices every year. The first batch produced every year is auctioned off with a pair of mangos being sold in 2023 for 600,000 yen (approx. $4000 USD). Of course, cheaper varieties are freely available and you can find many mango flavoured sweets and snacks in shops.

Miyazaki is also famous for beef with Miyazaki beef having won Japan’s award for the nation’s best beef three times, beating other favourites such as Kobe and Matsusaka beef. Though not as well-known as these other varieties, it is a source of pride in the prefecture with many restaurants bragging of serving genuine Miyazaki beef.

Perhaps Miyazaki’s most famous dish is Chicken Nanban, a dish that is popular nationwide. Marinated deep fried chicken topped with a kind of tartar sauce, this can be found almost anywhere but of course the original and best version can be found throughout Miyazaki. The prefecture produces a lot of chicken so there are various dishes that use it including charcoal grilled chicken.

Natural Beauty

Miyazaki prefecture’s largely rural nature and sunny climate means it has an abundance of natural beauty with lush green forests and mountains. One downside to all this means that there aren’t a lot of public transport options, even in its larger cities, so if you really do want to explore the prefecture, the best way to do so is by car. If you are a nature lover though, it’s a great place to experience the outdoors with a number of excellent camping spots available. The capital, Miyazaki city, makes an excellent base of exploration being centrally located in the prefecture although, because its most famous places are quite spread out, you need to plan a trip carefully.

Surprisingly, even though Miyazaki gets next to no snow throughout the year, it is also home to Japan’s most southerly ski resort with Gokase Highlands ski resort providing a mix of both natural and artificial snow during the ski season.

The Best Times to Visit

Miyazaki has a warm, sunny climate that makes it perfect to visit throughout most of the year. Winters are cold but there is no snow and the days are mostly clear. The autumn season can be quite short but spring and summer are perfect with summer being the optimal time to get the most out of the abundant beaches and clear, cool rivers.

Due to its location, Miyazaki can be quite vulnerable to typhoons and rainy season can also be quite severe so if you’re planning a trip, its best to avoid late spring and late summer.

For anyone looking for the perfect place to get off the beaten track in Japan and maybe visit an area less frequented by tourists, Miyazaki is the perfect place. It’s climate and nature make it a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Japan.

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