Nobeoka (Miyazaki, Kyushu)

Let’s continue with the next part of my winter vacation 2011/2012 travel report where I show you Nobeoka.
Early in the morning I left Takachiho by bus. My next destination was Miyazaki City and the fastest way to go there (unless you have your own vehicle) is by bus to Nobeoka and then take a train to Miyazaki.

When I arrived in Nobeoka I didn’t plan to stay there, but I heard taiko drums from far away.
After confirming with the small tourist information next to the station entrance, I decided to stay for a while.

That’s how I ended up in Nobeoka City in Miyazaki Prefecture.
During World War II Nobeoka was one of the most important centers of military explosives in Japan.

Visited: January 1st 2012

Nobeoka, Miyazaki

I just followed the sound of taiko drums. Right in front of the station you’ll see this.
It will lead you into a small shopping arcade.

Nobeoka, Miyazaki

From the shopping arcade it’s a very short walk (just turn left after a minute or so) up to the shrine.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

The manhole cover of Nobeoka is really adorable.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

Although I really rushed I was already too late. I just came in time for their last performance of the day! :(

At least I got to see that one and it was quite nice. Here’s a short video:

As it was January 1st there were a lot of people for their hatsumode (= 1st shrine visit of the year).

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

This shrine is called “Imayama Hachimangu” (今山八幡宮). It is on a small hill (yama, 山).

If you walk a little bit more, you’ll be able to visit the major “attraction” of Imayama: Imayama Daishi (今山大師, great master of Imayama) statue which is part of Imayama Temple. It’s the statue of the great master Kobo Daishi Kukai.
He is quite famous throughout Japan and is worshipped by many people.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

You can also go inside and go upstairs to access the statue directly. However, it’s not free! It was quite expensive (around 800 yen).
Of course, I went inside.
First, you’ll have to walk over those little sacks on the floor slowly, with your shoes off.
To be honest I’m not 100% sure about this “ritual”. Maybe somebody else knows? Just leave me a comment or send a message! :)

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

Finally up there you can see the statue from close up.
With a height of 17 m and a weight of 11 tons, it is the largest statue of Kobo Daishi in Japan.
If you touch the feet of the statue, you’ll be blessed with good fortune. Of course, I did.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

The view from up there was quite nice, too!

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

There are also a lot of smaller stone statues everywhere.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

I’m going to share just a few of them with you.

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

Let me know if you have a favorite statue!

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

This was definitely one of my favorites! So adorable!

Imayama in Nobeoka, Miyazaki

Imayama is a small hill, but yet has a lot to offer. I’m glad I came.
And then it was time to leave again. Walking through the forest with the stone lanterns on both sides was really nice. Great atmosphere!


It was still early when I finally left Nobeoka to go to Miyazaki.

This was a rather short report as I only stayed a few hours in Nobeoka.
I had a look at some pamphlets and there are a few more things to see, but nothing too great, so it’s not like you have to go there.
However, if you have a little bit of spare time when coming from or going to Takachiho via Nobeoka, I’d suggest to at least visit Imayama. It’s really just a short walk (~10-15 mins) from the station!


  • Lovely early [or mistaken] Satsuki azalea! They do have an odd habit of blooming out of season sometimes, like occasionally in the fall.

    I think my favorite statue is the fierce warrior praying while balancing his stick…Quick question: the one with closed eyes and face on joined hands, does the writing mean “I am happy” or “I am happiness”? This is repeated on the gray column to the right, which starts “Minna ga i…[hidden by rope] kara”

    Thanks for the Taiko drums video!

    • Hello Simone!
      Thanks for always commenting. :D

      I wish I knew if you’re right or not. I’m not good with plants! ^-^;

      Yes, your translation is right!
      On the statue it says: 私はしあわせ = I am happy
      On the right column it says: みんながいるから、私はしあわせ・・・ (I am happy because of everybody …) lit.: Because everybody is here / exists, I am happy …

      Wow, I’m surprised how closely you look at the photos! Even I haven’t noticed that at all!!
      I guess I usually rush too much to notice these tiny things. Not good! :(

    • Thank you so much for the nice comment and compliment! :heart:
      I’m really glad that you seem to like my blog!
      I’m sure to be back to comment at yours, I really adore it! :chu:

  • Lovely photos and a great write up! Nobeoka has been on my to go list for a long time but I still haven’t set foot in Kyushu. Can I make requests? How about a visit to Hyuga? I’d love to see what you would make of that little city and the surroundings! (^-^)

    Keep it up! Looking forward to more stuff from you!

    • Hey there!
      You definitely should visit Kyushu, there are so many awesome places to see.
      I doubt I’ll get to go to Kyushu again anytime soon. I just moved to Kansai and want to concentrate on Kanto and Tohoku for travelling now.

      I’ve been busy with moving and travelling in the past 2 months and will be in the next 1-2 months as well, so I don’t get to post a lot, but I’ll try.
      Thanks for your comment! :D

  • Hi, great blog! I just stumbled upon it while trying to plan my own winter vacation in Japan :P Maybe by now you’ve already found out what those bags of sand were for, but in case you haven’t – it’s a ritual related to the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. The Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage is a tour of 88 temples associated with Kobo Daishi. For those who are unable to complete the real pilgrimage, it’s said that by standing on soil from each of the temples (I think there’s a sutra to recite too…), one can earn some of the blessing associated with completing the real thing. Each of those bags contains soil from one of the temples, so by the end of the hallway you’ve stood on all 88!

    • Hi Wesley,

      I hope you could find something useful for planning your trip here on my blog then. ^___^

      Thanks a lot for the explanation. That does make sense. :)
      Although as this is Kyushu, it doesn’t have any relation to the Shikoku Pilgrimage. I suppose it’s the “Shingon Kyushu Pilgrimage” in that case. ^__^

  • Hey there, I know this is an old article but I spent the summer there recently!

    I was up at the shrine on Imayama up at the Kobo Daishi statue, and one of the locals was surprised at the interest of foreigners, so I had a discussion with him about the shrine. The little ritual, as well as the big map on the wall, is a reference to the Shikoku Pilgrimage of 88 shrines that many people partake in. Each bag has the name of one of the shrines on it, so stepping on them is like completing the pilgrimage in spirit, which is also supposed to bring you good fortune.

    EDIT: Agh, my enthusiasm got the better of me, didn’t realize there was a previous reply about this.

    By way of apology, a little bit more trivia!

    The city was the stronghold of the Naito clan, who had a fortress in the center of the city. The castle no longer stands, but its foundation still exists as part of Shiroyama Park in the center of town. There is a memorial to World War II kamikaze pilots, as well as Masataka Naito who was the last Naito to rule from the city. After the Meiji Restoration, the castle was torn down, but Masataka continued to work for the betterment of the city afterwards, and is remembered as such.

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