From the 29th of April to early May, a string of consecutive holidays called Golden Week (GW) takes place every year in Japan. This year’s abdication of the Emperor and the subsequent succession meant that this Golden Week would be extended to the first ever ten consecutive days off around the country.
It was always my intention to explore as much of Kyushu as I could, and one place I’d had on my list to see was the prefecture of Miyazaki. South of Oita and extending down to one of the most southernly peninsulas of Kyushu, Miyazaki spans a great part of the eastern coast. With fantasies of small islands scattered along the way and deep, jungly forests, we took a three day car trip to explore as much as we could.
Day 1: Aoshima Island and Devil’s Washboard
On the first day, we drove 3 hours on the highway to our first stop: Aoshima Island. Not to be confused with the famous cat island off the coast of Shikoku, Aoshima Island of Miyazaki is famed for its shrine, its unusual rock formations surrounding the island, and is a popular surfers’ destination. It’s an overcast day, but the gloomy weather keeps the visitor numbers down and we explore at our leisure.
Within a nest of trees on the middle of the island is Aoshima Shrine. It’s a sudden change of humidity as we enter the forest that feels very tropical and jungly.
The whole of Aoshima is surrounded by 8 km of rock formations called the Devil’s Washboard. As a result of millions of years of waves crashing over aqueous rocks, the soft sediment slowly washed away to create the appearance of the Washboard today. As we walked around the island, we took precarious steps onto the rocks in search of interesting shells, but the slippery sandstone made it a difficult trek. Walking on the sand was a safer bet, which was made mostly of shells and the occasional piece of ceramic and pottery.
It’s a dreary day out, but that hasn’t stopped the surfers. Driving out of Aoshima, we pass several lines of surfer vans parked by the beach.
It’s still the mid afternoon, so continue our drive to Miyazaki city, where we check into our hotel and have lunch. Next, we continue south to the preserved samurai district of Obi Town.
Obi Town, the “Kyoto of Miyazaki”
An hour drive from Miyazaki city brings us to Obi town. We know very little about the town, so it’s a lovely surprise to find a charming samurai town that feels perfectly preserved in time, with impeccably kept properties and waterways full of carp.
Obi Castle Ruins
Along with the beautiful historical town, Obi comes with its own castle grounds. The castle is long gone, but the main grounds now houses an elementary school that is full of kids when we pass by.
Regardless of the weather, it’s been a beautiful day of visiting Miyazaki. After our visit of Obi Town, we head back to the main city of Miyazaki and seek out dinner in the bustling night district. We have an exciting day planned for day 2!