10 Best Things to Do in Miyazaki

Miyazaki Travel Guide: What to Do in Miyazaki Now

Ah, Miyazaki—Here the sun always seems to shine a little brighter. While Tokyo boasts skyscrapers and Kyoto flaunts temples, Miyazaki offers a different kind of allure, linked with a wide variety of legends related to Shinto and the birth of Japan, in addition to many wonderful natural landmarks.

So, if you’re looking for the best things to do in Miyazaki, buckle up! We’re about to take you on a whirlwind tour of this underrated gem. This coastal paradise is the ultimate playground for adventurers and culture enthusiasts alike!

With this Kyushu Region Bucket List, let’s also check out the surrounding tourist attractions: Best Things to Do in Kyushu

1. Uncover a Nature’s Masterpiece at Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho GorgeTakachiho Gorge (高千穂峡) is a geological marvel that looks like it was carved by the gods themselves—and according to Japanese mythology, it kind of was. This stunning gorge is steeped in legend, notably as the hiding place of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

But let’s talk about the real star: the basalt columns resembling giant’s causeways, formed from volcanic activity over a millennia ago. Rent a rowboat and paddle your way through the emerald waters, passing under the Minainotaki waterfall. It’s like floating through a fairy tale, only you don’t have to pinch yourself to believe it’s real.

2. Feel the Connection to Ancient Shinto Deities at Amano Yasukawara

Amano YasukawaraVenturing inside Amano Yasukawara (天安河原) feels like the beginning of a spiritual journey. This riverside cave located in Takachiho Gorge is known for its stacks of small stones, each placed by visitors making a wish or offering a prayer. According to Shinto belief, this is the location where goddess Amaterasu was hiding to avoid her brother Susanoo.

In doing so, she brought darkness upon the world, so all the other gods gathered here until she came out, lured by a Kagura dance. It’s a serene spot, perfect for a moment of reflection or even a casual stroll along the riverbank while enjoying the beautifully striking landscape.

3. Discover The Devil’s Washboard from Aoshima Island

Devil's Washboard at Aoshima IslandAoshima Island (青島) is a small, tropical paradise marked by unique geological formations along the coast known as the “Devil’s Washboard.” These naturally occurring basalt formations look meticulously crafted, but they’re all Mother Nature’s doing.

The island itself is home to the Aoshima Shrine, a sacred spot that’s said to bring good luck in love and marriage. But don’t just take my word for it; the countless “ema” (wooden plaques with wishes) hanging around the shrine are proof enough. Are you a geology nerd and a hopeless romantic who loves the sea? This place is right for you.

4. Journey Through Time at Saitobaru Burial Mounds

Saitobaru Burial MoundFor history and archeology enthusiasts, the Saitobaru Burial Mounds (西都原古墳群) are a must-see. This archaeological site consists of more than 300 ancient burial mounds dating back to the Kofun period around 1,700 years ago. Walking through the area feels like stepping back in time, offering a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The site also features a museum where you can learn more about the artifacts and the people who were laid to rest here. It’s not just a field of grassy knolls; it’s a living museum, a testament to the lives and beliefs of those who came before us. Bonus points if you visit during cherry blossom season!

5. See the only Moai Statues Outside of Easter Island at Sun Messe Nichinan

Moai statues of Sun Messe NichinanDid you know you can see authentic moai statues in Japan? Sun Messe Nichinan (サンメッセ日南), probably one of the quirkiest spots in Miyazaki, is home to seven Moai statues—yes, like the ones on Easter Island. These statues, restored with special permission from the Easter Island Elders’ Association, are the only ones in the world outside of Easter Island.

Besides the impressive statues; the park offers panoramic views of the Nichinan coastline, making it a great spot for photos or simply soaking in the scenery. If you’re looking for something a little different, a little unexpected, and a whole lot of fun, Sun Messe Nichinan is your go-to.

6. Admire the Wild Horses at Cape Toi

Cape Toi wild horsesCape Toi (都井岬) in Kushima City is not just another beautiful coastal spot in Miyazaki; it’s also a sanctuary for wild horses. Known as “Misaki-uma,” these horses have roamed the cape for centuries, descending from those originally bred for samurai in the 17th century.

Visitors can approach them as they’re not aggressive toward humans, but you should not touch them or feed them. The cape itself offers dramatic cliffs and panoramic ocean views that can make anyone feel like a nature photographer. There’s also a small lighthouse, an interesting landmark that adds a touch of nostalgia to the whole scene. 

7. Take a Leisurely Walk Around Heiwadai Park

Heiwadai ParkHeiwadai Park (平和台公園) is a symbol of peace and unity and one of the most popular landmarks in Miyazaki. The park was built to commemorate the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese imperial line and is home to the Peace Tower, a 37-meter structure made entirely of stones sent from all over Asia.

While the tower is the main attraction, the park itself is a haven for relaxation and recreation, featuring walking paths, flower gardens, a small zoo, and even an adorable collection of over 400 replicas of haniwa, the burial statues usually found on burial mounds to honor the dead. 

8. Try Your Luck at Udo Shrine

Udo ShrineNestled inside a cave overlooking the ocean, Udo Shrine (鵜戸神宮) offers a spiritual experience in a beautiful setting. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to Yamasachihiko, a mythological figure said to be one of the ancestors of Emperor Jinmu, Japan’s first emperor from Japanese mythology.

This place is often associated with good outcomes for those seeking a significant other, safe childbirth or childcare, as well as safety at sea. Visitors often try their luck by tossing “undama” (lucky stones) into a target in the ocean; a successful shot is said to bring good fortune. The cave itself provides a mystical backdrop, with the sound of waves crashing below adding to the ambiance. 

9. Take a Side Trip to Mount Kirishima

Mount KirishimaIf you’re up for a little adventurous detour, Mount Kirishima (霧島山) is well worth the journey. This volcanic mountain range, part of the Kirishima Kinkowan National Park, offers some of the best hiking trails in the region, complete with craters, hot springs, and panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see.

It’s also deeply surrounded in mythology, considered to be the birthplace of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu. While reachable with local buses, renting a car may probably be more convenient. It’s advisable to check online for information on the volcanic activity as depending on the case, some trails are closed. 

10. Soak Your Worries Away at Kirishima Onsen

Kirishima OnsenAfter all the adventuring around Mount Kirishima, you’re going to need a place to unwind, and Kirishima Onsen (霧島温泉) is just what you need. This hot spring resort area, one of the most famous in Japan, is renowned for its healing waters, rich in minerals that are said to alleviate a variety of ailments. At the very least, you’re sure to become completely relaxed while winding down here.

The onsen is surrounded by lush forests and mountainous terrain, providing the perfect backdrop to forget about the worries of daily life. Many of the baths offer both indoor and outdoor soaking options, so you can enjoy the natural scenery while you soak. It’s the perfect way to end your Miyazaki journey, leaving you refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for whatever comes next.

Miyazaki Prefecture is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and spiritual depth. Whether you’re an adventurer, a history buff, or someone in search of tranquility, this coastal wonderland offers a diverse range of experiences that promise to make your trip unforgettable. Come explore and find your own slice of paradise.

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Written by

Photographer, journalist, and avid urban cyclist, making sense of Japan since 2017. I was born in Caracas and lived for 14 years in Barcelona before moving to Tokyo. Currently working towards my goal of visiting every prefecture in Japan, I hope to share with readers the everlasting joy of discovery and the neverending urge to keep exploring.