Five Things to Do in Miyazaki City
Miyazaki prefecture is filled with many wonderful things to do and some truly stunning natural beauty. Due to its position in the far south east of Japan, Miyazaki was largely undeveloped for most of Japan's history and as such is home to some beautiful untouched landscapes and national parks, as well as natural locations that tie into Japan's earliest mythology. Miyazaki City, the prefecture's capital, tends to be a little overlooked when considering what Miyazaki as a whole has to offer. Miyazaki City is one of the youngest prefectural capitals in Japan, having been established in 1924 with the merging of three small towns.
With its warm, sunny climate and palm tree lined streets, Miyazaki city was for a long time, a favored honeymoon destination for newlywed Japanese though its popularity faded slightly in favor of overseas destinations in the late 80s. Though many travelers use the city as a base to explore the rest of the prefecture nowadays, Miyazaki City itself has some wonderful things on offer for anyone looking to spend any time in the city itself.
5. Aoshima Island
Aoshima Island is easily the most well-known destination on this list. An enormously popular icon of Miyazaki prefecture, situated well away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre the Aoshima area itself gives the impression of a sleepy little coastal village, though it's still incorporated as part of Miyazaki City itself. Aoshima island is a tiny island just off the Miyazaki coast and is accessible by bridge. The island is home to a beautiful shrine and despite its size is home to a huge number of tropical plants and trees. The island is surrounded by a unique rock formation known as the Oni's Washboard that makes for some amazing photos. Nearby Aoshima Beach is famous for surfing and during summer, a beach park opens up with a large number of food stalls making it a favorite summer playground for locals and tourists alike.
4. Heiwadai Park
Located on the Western side of the city, Heiwadai Park is a sprawling reserve and a wonderful place to visit. Alternating between seemingly wild natural forest and carefully landscaped areas of beautiful greenery and massive ponds, Heiwadai Park would be a nice enough place to wander around on its own even if it had nothing else to offer. Instead, Heiwadai Park is home to Miyazaki's most famous monument, the towering Peace Tower which overlooks the city from the park. The tower was built to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of Japan's mythical first emperor Jimmu, who was believed to have descended from the heavens in Miyazaki prefecture. It was rededicated as a monument to Peace in the aftermath of World War II.
Heiwadai Park also contains a large garden containing hundreds of haniwa. These clay figures were traditionally used for rituals and buried with the dead during Japan's Kofun period (300 to 500 AD). Many haniwa have been found throughout the Kyushu area and in Miyazaki especially. This garden contains replicas of the many kinds of haniwa found and is a great spot to visit.
3. Miyazaki Jingu Shrine
Miyazaki Jingu is Miyazaki's largest shrine and also the main prefectural shrine of Miyazaki. The shrine predates Miyazaki City significantly and is dedicated to Emperor Jimmu. The main shrine was built in 1197 and has been renovated numerous times since then, as such, it is one of most historically significant areas in the otherwise very young city. Miyazaki's history often reaches far back into the depths of Japanese mythology and there are many mythological sites around the city. Miyazaki Jingu is one of these and its position amongst a calming forest landscape near the centre of the city makes it easy to imagine it much as it was hundreds of years ago.
2. Miyazaki Recreation Forest
Miyazaki City itself is on relatively flat ground but just a little south of the city is the Miyazaki recreational forest. This large wilderness area takes in a number of mountains and rivers and is a great spot for hiking in all seasons. Mount Boroishi in this area was historically regarded as a sacred mountain and is home to many strange rock formations including Tengu-iwa which is a massive rock carved into hundreds of hollow formations.
The Kaeda River flows between the mountains and is a popular spot for swimming and picnics during summer as a well as a great place for an easier hike along the banks. The water is very clear and marked with many interesting rock formations. It's a great spot for an early evening stroll or a lengthier hike along it's 9km path.
Located in the centre of Miyazaki City is Tachibanadori, Miyazaki City's entertainment and nightlife district. Surprisingly large and mazelike for such a small city, Tachibana-dori is packed full of restaurants and bars and is a great place to visit, even if you don't plan on having a night out. During the day, it's complicated structure and tight streets make it an interesting place to visit, even if most of the businesses are closed at that time. If you do go during the day, there are numerous hidden cafes and restaurants scattered throughout that can make it a bit of an adventure tracking them down. At night, Tachibanadori becomes a neon lit maze full of people. There are many izakayas, pubs, bars and restaurants and most of the city seems to converge here for a fun night out. Tachibanadori is a must visit if you're out to sample the Miyazaki nightlife.