prefecture of Japan
Asia > East Asia > Japan > Kyushu > Miyazaki (prefecture)

Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県 Miyazaki-ken) is in the southeastern part of the Japanese island of Kyushu with a low population density. Its capital of Miyazaki is centrally located on the coast of Hyuga Sea. The area is popular with Korean tourists, with Seoul being the only international destination from the prefecture's main airport.

Understand edit

Miyazaki Prefecture is located a mountainous prefecture with Miyazaki Plain stretching north and northwest of its capital along the coast, Miyakonojo Basin surrounding the city of Miyakonojo and Kobayashi Basin located between Kirishima Mountains and Kyushu Mountains. Southern portion of the prefecture, including the cities of Nichinan and Kushima, is located within the Wanitsuka Mountains. The prefectures borders on open ocean on its east, locally known as Hyuga Sea. The sea is known for its wild waves and strong currents and in many places it's forbidden to enter the water for swimmers and surfers alike. The only city with swimmable beaches is Kushima in the south, along calmer waters of Shibushi Bay.

The prefecture was created in 1873. Until then seats of power were in Miyakonojo and Mimitsu (now a part of Hyuga city). At the same time, the city of Miyazaki was created to centralize power, until then only a small village was located at its present site. Most of what is now Miyazaki Prefecture used to be Hyuga Province and even nowadays the name "Hyuga", along with other transliterations "Hinata" and "Himuka", meaning "facing the sun" is ever-present across its area with locals showing pride in their history.

The area of the prefecture is a site of many mythical stories and historical events. Amano Iwato Shrine in Takachiho town features a cave in which sun goddess Amaterasu was hiding after a battle with her brother, plunging the world into darkness. Mount Takachiho in the Kirishima Mountains is where Amaterasu's grandson Ninigi-no-Mikoto buried his sword into the land to be able to descend from heavens in nearby Takachihogawara. In turn, his grandson Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, was a native of these lands and later sailed with his army from the ancient port of Mimitsu to conquer the rest of Japan.

Miyazaki Prefecture is warmer than most places on Kyushu and all of Japan's main islands. In winter, it attracts many professional baseball teams for training camps, with Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Saitama Seibu Lions based respectively in Aburatsu and Nango, both within Nichinan city.

Tourist information site edit

The prefecture has an official multilingual guide site.

Cities edit

 
Map of Miyazaki (prefecture)

Ranked by population

  • 1 Miyazaki — the prefectural capital and home to almost 400,000 people. Despite lack of history until late 19th century, the city proper boasts an impressive Shinto shrine and a controversial Peace Park. Within city limits is also the mythical island of Aoshima with a shrine of its own.
  • 2 Miyakonojo — former provincial capital located below the Kirishima Mountains and on the way between Miyazaki and Kagoshima cities.
  • 3 Nobeoka — northernmost city near the border with Oita Prefecture, with abundant factories, but also a walkable city centre with beautiful castle ruins and a hilltop Buddhist temple.
  • 4 Hyuga — contains stunningly beautiful Cape Hyuga and the historical port of Mimitsu.
  • 5 Nichinan — home to the famous Udo Shrine and the historical town of Obi with a castle of significant historical importance.
  • 6 Kobayashi
  • 7 Saito
  • 8 Ebino
  • 9 Kushima — coastal town on Shibushi Bay, the only of its kind in the prefecture as there are calm beaches accessible to swimmers.
  • 10 Takachiho — small town tucked inside the Kyushu Mountains, featuring a beautiful gorge and a Shinto shrine with a cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu was hiding. Probably the most visited sightseeing spot in the prefecture.

See edit

  • 1 Takachiho Gorge — beautiful river gorge on Gokase River in Kyushu Mountains. Boat rental available on site.
  • 2 Amano Iwato Shrine — Shinto shrine with a cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu was hiding from her brother, plunging the world into darkness.
  • 3 Kirishima National Park — volcanic mountain range with stunning landscapes and hiking trails. It's a holy place in Shinto religion as this is where Gods descended from Heaven.
  • 4 Udo Shrine — Shinto shrine located inside a cave on a sea cliff.
  • 5 Aoshima — island with a shrine inside a forest. Surrounded by "Devil's Washboard" rock formations.
  • 6 Miyazaki Jingu Shrine — main shrine of Miyazaki city. Surrounded by thick forest, has similar vibes to Meiji Jingu in Tokyo (minus the crowds).
  • 7 Heiwadai Peace Park — expansive park with controversial "Peace Tower", originally built during 1930s and dedicated to Japan's conquest of the world.
  • 8 Obi Castle and Historic Town — well-kept historic town with a partially restored castle, historically the most important one in current Miyazaki Prefecture.
  • 9 Cape Hyuga — peninsula with stunning views of surrounding landscape and the Hyuga Sea.
  • 10 Nobeoka Castle — features a huge castle wall and a bell tower which has been announcing time for centuries without pause.

Talk edit

Miyazaki-ben, the primary Miyazaki dialect, can differ drastically from standard Japanese depending on the age of the speaker. Younger people mostly speak a variation of standard Japanese but older people can be almost unintelligible even for Japanese speakers.

Like much of Japan, English speakers are few and far between but they will still try their hardest to help you if you ask for it. Most tourist information centers have English-speaking staff who can help you.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Miyazaki Airport (KMI IATA), in southern Miyazaki City, is the primary airport in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is a regional airport with frequent flights to Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. Other destinations served are Nagoya, Okinawa and Seoul. There are many local products for sale on the second floor and restaurants on the third floor. The airport has a train station with express trains "Hyuga" and "Nichirin" for Miyazaki city, with termini in Nobeoka, Oita and once a day Hakata in Fukuoka as well. Local trains also serve the station with Nobeoka being the farthest destination. The frequency between 08:00 and 22:00 is 2 trains per hour, with occassionally a third one thrown in. You can board the express trains for normal fare, but only between Miyazaki Airport, Minami Miyazaki and Miyazaki stations.

By train edit

Miyazaki Prefecture is served by express trains along the Nippo Main Line, namely the "Kirishima", coming from Kagoshima nine times a day, and the "Nichirin", with 6 daily connections to Oita, 1 to Hakata and 1 to Kokura. To board these, JR Pass or an express ticket for extra charge is needed. Local trains can be also used from Kagoshima, with a change needed in Miyakonojo. However, virtually no local trains are passing the border with Oita.

Another inter-prefectural railway link is the Ebino Kogen Line between Miyakonojo and Yoshimatsu, deep in the Kirishima foothills in Kagoshima Prefecture. This line only runs 9 times per day and is served by old diesel trains, but it can be a good choice for those looking for nostalgia and beautiful mountain views, as it runs through the Kobayashi Basin, with views of both Kirishima and Kyushu mountain ranges on each side.

Connection Approx. travel time Price
Kagoshima-Miyazaki (express train "Kirishima") 2 hr 15 min ¥4,330
Kagoshima-Miyazaki (local train via Nippo Main Line, change in Miyakonojo) 3 hr ¥2,530
Kagoshima-Miyazaki (local train via Ebino Kogen Line, change in Hayato and/or Yoshimatsu and Miyakonojo) 4 hr 45 min ¥3,670
Oita-Miyazaki (express train "Nichirin") 3 hr ¥6,470
Hakata-Miyazaki (express train "Nichirin Seagaia") 5 hr 49 min ¥10,700
Hakata-Miyazaki (Shinkansen to Kagoshima, express train "Kirishima" to Miyazaki) 4 hr 47 min ¥13,670
Kumamoto-Miyazaki (Shinkansen to Kagoshima, express train "Kirishima" to Miyazaki) 3 hr 50 min ¥10,650

By bus edit

Bus would be a logical option to enter Miyazaki Prefecture from Kumamoto Prefecture as there are no direct rail lines traversing the mountains along their border. Compared to the train connection via Kagoshima in the table above, a direct bus between Kumamoto and Miyazaki takes 3 hours 45 minutes and costs ¥4,720, making it a much cheaper alternative.

By ferry edit

Miyazaki Car Ferry is an overnight car ferry that runs between Miyazaki and Kobe. It departs at 19:10 every day (except Sunday on which the Miyazaki bound ferry leaves at 18:00) and arrives at Kobe at 07:30 and at Miyazaki at 08:40. The fare ranges between ¥12,680 and ¥29,180 one-way for a passenger depending on class and ¥23,450 and ¥39,950 one-way for a car depending on length.

Get around edit

To get around, hiring a car is a very good idea as public transport can be rare and not particularly convenient. If you do this, it would be a good idea to briefly study Japanese road signs most but not all of them are also written in English.

By train edit

The prefecture is served by four train lines: Nippo Main Line provides connections between the principal cities of Miyakonojo, Miyazaki, Hyuga and Nobeoka. Nichinan Line runs south from Miyazaki to the cities of Nichinan and Kushima, with terminus in Shibushi, in Kagoshima Prefecture. Miyazaki Airport Line splits from Nichinan Line in Tayoshi and runs for only a 1.4 km to Miyazaki Airport. Ebino Kogen Line provides connection from Miyakonojo to cities of Kobayashi and Ebino under the Kirishima Mountains.

If you're not using JR Pass or a regional pass, you'll be required to purchase tickets with cash on most occasions. JR Kyushu's IC card "Sugoca" can only be used in some stations in Miyazaki city and its suburbs. In many stations, you can buy the ticket in vending machines. If you're boarding in a station with no ticket vending machine, you need to pick up a numbered ticket from a dispenser next to the door upon boarding the train. You pay when or after getting off, depending on the station. At many rural stops, the cash with the numbered ticket/ticket from vending machine is given to the train driver. In stations with staff, it is handed to the station staff upon leaving the platform. Passengers are informed of this on board of the train before their stop, but only newer trains on Nippo Main Line have this announcement in English as well. Older trains running on rural lines only have this announcement in Japanese. At many stops, only two doors of the train will open with the rear car's doors closed. Only the first door of the front car opens for exit and the second door of the front car for entry.

Nippo Main Line edit

The electrified main line enters Miyazaki Prefecture from neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture in the city of Miyakonojo. It then continues through mountain passes into the city of Miyazaki and north along the Hyuga Sea coast to Hyuga city, Nobeoka city and Oita Prefecture. It is served by express trains in its entire length, the "Kirishima" coming from Kagoshima 9 times a day and calling at two stations in Miyakonojo and also the Miyazaki suburb of Kiyotake before Minami Miyazaki and terminating in Miyazaki. Connecting Miyazaki and Nobeoka 16 times a day are "Hyuga" (ending in Nobeoka) and "Nichirin" (continuing to Oita and further) express trains with stops at Sadowara, Takanabe, Hyuga city and Minami Nobeoka. Vast majority of the "Hyuga" and "Nichirin" trains also serve the Minami Miyazaki and Miyazaki Airport stations.

Local trains are also divided in Miyazaki, with one arm terminating in Miyakonojo and the other in Nobeoka.

Nichinan Line edit

This line provides local train service from the city of Miyazaki south along the Nichinan Coast and all the way to the Kagoshima Prefecture city of Shibushi. The northern terminus is at Minami Miyazaki, but most trains are through trains to Miyazaki station. In Tayoshi, a branch line stems from the Nichinan Line and 1.4 km to Miyazaki Airport. After that, the line is not electrified and, served by old diesel trains, continues through Miyazaki city to the Sports Park (Undokoen) and the popular tourist destination of Aoshima. From there, the line exits the city and heads for Nichinan, passing along the coast several times and also running through a few tunnels, including the 3,670-m-long Taninojo Tunnel. In the city of Nichinan, it serves the historic town of Obi. Most trains terminate within the city, either in Aburatsu or Nango, with only 5 trains daily making the entire trip to Shibushi. The section between Aburatsu and Shibushi is served by 3 additional trains and change is required. It's also a very rural section, passing through forests and valleys on its way to Kushima, only stopping rarely for sparse settlements. After Kushima, the line runs along Shibushi Bay, providing scenic views of the sea. The entire trip is 89 km long and takes roughly 3 hours to complete.

In addition to almost-hourly local trains, there is one round-trip of "Nichinan Marine" limited train, which skips several stops between Nichinan and Miyazaki. Also, sightseeing train "Umisachi Yamasachi" runs between Miyazaki and Nango, but its operation is limited to weekends and holidays.

Ebino Kogen Line edit

Local line between the city of Miyakonojo and Yoshimatsu in Kagoshima Prefecture, also serving the cities of Kobayashi and Ebino. It runs through the Kobayashi Basin and offers scenic views on Kyushu Mountains to the north and Kirishima Mountains to the south. It has a rural character and is only served by 9 trains per day. For example, there are no trains departing Miyakonojo on this line between 08:03 and 13:08. All trains are served by old diesel cars.

By bus edit

It's necessary to use the bus in order to reach some of the main attractions in the prefecture, including the town of Takachiho, Udo Shrine and trailheads in Kirishima Mountains. Miyazaki Kotsu, the main bus operator in the prefecture, is offering the Visit Miyazaki Bus Pass to foreign visitors at the price of ¥2,000/person/day. This pays off especially when visiting Takachiho from Nobeoka (it is not valid on Miyazaki-Takachiho buses).

Buses between Miyazaki and Udo Shrine are also frequented by tourists. However, the duration of the journey is quite long and it's served by a rather small bus which can get very crowded. It's more comfortable to use train and change to bus as close to the shrine as possible. The closest station is in the village of Ibii from where it only takes 15 minutes to reach the shrine. The village has a beautiful beach and a Shinto shrine to kill time while waiting for the transfer.

Reaching the Kirishima Mountains is nowadays only possible from the Kagoshima Prefecture side of the mountain range as the road from Ebino to Ebino Kogen is closed due to volcanic activity.

By bike edit

Some cities also offer tourist taxi services and bike rentals. Bikes can be a wonderful way to get around in sunny Miyazaki, but it can get really hot and humid in the summer.

Do edit

Hiking edit

There are numerous hiking opportunities in the Kirishima Mountains with their highest peak, Mt. Karakuni, located at the border with Kagoshima Prefecture. Mythical Mt. Takachiho and the Ebino Kogen mountain tableland are other popular hiking destinations. Due to volcanic activity in the mountain range, however, some trails might be closed or damaged. As of March 2024, the mountains of Shinmoedake, Nakadake and Ioyama are off limits. Also, the terrain here can be very challenging in places so make sure to have right equipment and to check weather forecast.

Surfing edit

The Hyuga Sea which washes most of Miyazaki Prefecture's coasts is known for strong waves, and some of its beaches are popular with surfers.

Swimming edit

To visit beaches with calmer waters, suitable for swimming, one must visit the southern city of Kushima which is located on Shibushi Bay.

Wildlife watching edit

Waterfowls are abundant on the Oyodo River and can be watched from its banks in Miyazaki city. Hyuga Sea is known for its presence of dolphins; however, there seem to be no ships in the area dedicated to dolphin watching.

Eat edit

The most famous local dish is "chicken nanban", fried chicken with sweet and sour sauce, inspired by Portuguese cuisine. It can be found in many restaurants here and it's even available in convenience stores across the country, albeit in less desirable, microwavable edition.

Hyuganatsu is another well-known product of the prefecture, a citrus fruit said to be a variety of yuzu. One can find many hyuganatsu flavored products here, from soft drinks to confectionery to alcohol.

Another local citrus fruit is hebesu, albeit lesser known. It's more available in the northern part of the prefecture and quite often one can find hebesu flavored vinegar in souvenir stores.

Drink edit

Local company Sun-A produces soft drinks using local ingredients and flavors, including the hyuganatsu citrus fruit. Their orange vending machines are available at several locations, including Miyazaki Station east gate square or the stairs leading from Udo Shrine parking up towards the shrine.

Popular craft beers from the prefecture are Hideji and Kirishima.

Go next edit


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