This is a continuation of my winter vacation in Kyushu.
After visiting Miyazaki Shrine and Heiwadai Park in the city center of Miyazaki I decided to take a day trip along the awesome and beautiful Nichinan Coastline featuring Aoshima Island, Udo Shrine and Sunmesse.
Luckily the weather was perfect, but freezing cold!
In 2012 I went to Aoshima Island, Udo Shrine and Sunmesse.
You can easily do this all in one day without having to rush. I went in winter when the sunset is pretty early (around 16:30) and everything also closes quite early and yet it wasn’t a problem at all.
By the way, I visited a second time in December 2017 to explore even more.
How to get to Aoshima Shrine:
From JR Miyazaki Station or Miyazaki Airport you can take a bus that will bring you to all the major tourist spots along the Nichinan Coastline. The bus will leave in front of Miyazaki Station. Look for a bus bound for “Nichinan Kaigan” (日南海岸). Unfortunately there’s no English version available at all. If you can use a bit of Japanese, you can check the latest timetable here by entering the starting point (宮崎駅) and your destination (青島神社).
I highly recommend you ask for help at the tourist information located inside the station. Make sure you have a bus timetable with you. It will make planning your day a bit easier.
Approaching Aoshima Island:
I first got off at Aoshima Island (青島). It’s also the first bus stop out of the three things I wanted to visit.
Aoshima is a very small island in Miyazaki Prefecture. It’s connected to the main land via a small bridge.
The island is famous for its shrine but all the more for being surrounded by unique rock formations called “Ogre’s Washboard” (鬼の洗濯板 – oni no sentakuita).
It was a very beautiful day, but also extremely windy and cold. It was winter after all and my face started to hurt when I approached the bridge.
Make sure to dress accordingly if you plan to visit in winter. It may not look like it on the photos, but it does get cold – even in Kyushu.
The approach to Aoshima Shrine is so interesting. The whole small island is surrounded by uniquely shaped rocks.
Getting closer to the shrine on Aoshima Island.
The great gate marks the entrance to the shrine.
The actual shrine is located on the other side of Aoshima Island so you can’t see it from the mainland.
Despite the cold weather there were a lot of people.
What to do at Aoshima Shrine:
It was winter vacation and many of them had yet to do their hatsumode.
The first few days after New Year’s Day are the busiest for omikuji (fortune-telling sheet of paper). If it’s something good, you keep it. If you’re not satisfied with it or if it’s bad, you leave it behind at the shrine. Although I already heard of people doing it the opposite way. I guess there are no strict rules and nobody really knows the “rules” anyways!
Everything you need for a good and happy start in the new year! Get a good fortune from one of the cool arrow-shaped omikuji and then grab one of the shrine’s wooden plaques and write your greatest wishes on it.
Hang your wishing plaque next to the others and walk through the tunnel. Great feeling!
At Aoshima Shrine you can also throw plates. You have to hit a certain area only then you’ll be blessed with good fortune.
So far I’ve only seen it as “mountain version” where you throw it down or through a small circle-shaped target.
To me Aoshima Island represents Miyazaki well. My image of Miyazaki has always been: lots of palm trees, blue ocean, blue sky!
Even the shrine is surrounded by palm trees!
After the shrine visit I took my time to walk around the small island to have a closer look at the uniquely shaped rocks that make the island so famous.
I spent some time looking for small stones with holes that I could take home as souvenir. And I wasn’t the only one!!
If you have enough time, I definitely recommend doing so.
I even spotted a small lighthouse. Isn’t it cute?
And then I left the small island again.
Aoshima Subtropical Botanic Garden
If you cross the bridge again to come back to the “main land” there’s also a very small botanical garden.
As I still had a bit of time before the next bus would come, I decided to have a look.
You can just stroll around outside or go inside for a ridiculously low entrance fee. They even wanted to give me some flowers, but I couldn’t take them with me, so I kindly rejected. As it’s a very small garden, you can finish everything in 5-10 mins.
The inside wasn’t really that interesting. If you’re not particularly interested in exotic flowers, then it might be better to just skip it!
For me it was a good way to warm up. As I mentioned earlier it was bitter cold outside.
The botanical garden is surrounded by lots of tall palm trees! I love them as for me they’re a sign of summer, surfing, fun, vacation.
I stood there for quite some time, staring at them until I realized that it’s way too cold and then moved on!
The bus stop is not far away. A 5 mins walk if at all. The short walk is full of small souvenir shops and restaurants, so make sure to check them out if you have some time.
I took the same bus line as before to go a bit further up the Nichinan Coastline. My next destination was: Udo Shrine.