Kyushu is really beautiful – and Miyazaki Prefecture is no exception. Besides beautiful Aoshima, Miyazaki’s Nichinan coast has other nice spots to offer.
After visiting Aoshima I took the same bus line as before which rides along the coastline. That alone is worth the bus ride! My next stop of the day was Udo Shrine, also known as Udo Jingu (鵜戸神宮).
From Aoshima it’s a 45 mins bus ride, from Miyazaki Station it almost takes 1.5 h, but it’s all worth it, trust me. If you’re not convinced yet, just have a look at the photos!
Accessing Udo Shrine
The bus stop was a little bit away from the shrine. Furthermore due to New Year’s chaos there were traffic jams, so the bus driver decided to let us get off somewhere else (even farther away).
The first thing that caught my eye was this hilarious gorilla, just sitting there and chilling!
It was quite a walk up to the shrine, I’d say at least 20-30 mins involving quite a few stairs as well. I stopped a few times to take some photos and catch my breath.
At this point you could choose if you want to go the “pilgrim path” (through the red gate shown in the photo above) which was more strenuous with more stairs or the “normal visitors’ path”. I chose the normal route.
Exploring beautiful Udo Shrine
And somehow I made it to the shrine. Beautiful weather!
Lots of people everywhere. Luckily there were many food stalls around as well and I took a break and ate yummy takoyaki.
Please note that the food stalls were only around because it was New Year’s Day and thus Hatsumode time.
The roughly 5-10 mins walk to the main shrine building leads you along the coast. The view from there is breathtaking! You just can’t rush, you need to slow down and enjoy it.
Picturing restoration of nature around the shrine.
The actual shrine is IN a cave! How cool is that?
It was packed with people that day so it was a bit difficult to take photos or explore the cave to the fullest.
The cutest wishing plaques I’ve ever seen!
Of course I couldn’t resist and had to buy one of the rabbit wooden plates!
I thought they were leftovers from the previous year (2011) back then as it was the year of the rabbit. But during my second visit (December 2017) I got to know that the bunny is actually a kami (god) of Udo Jingu. That’s good news because it means you can buy the cute ema all year round.
Undama Throwing for good fortune
Another thing that is special and pretty cool about Udo Shrine is “Undama Throwing“.
Undama (運玉) roughly means “good luck ball”. If you want to try it, just say “undama nage” (運玉投げ) and they’ll know.
Undamas are clay balls and you can purchase 5 of them for 100 yen, so it’s a really cheap pleasure, especially if you consider that admission to the shrine is free.
After purchasing them you have to try getting them into the center of the “Kameishi rock”.
Also, be careful, there’s a rule to make sure you receive good fortune: Women must throw with their right, men with their left hand.
This is one of the reasons why I decided not to do it. I’m left-handed and on top of that suck at throwing. (^-^’)
Another thing to notice is the rock behind the cave that is shaped like breasts which is why it’s called “Ochichi-iwa” (お乳岩, breast rock).
According to a legend the goddess left her breasts behind when she left.
Even nowadays candy that is said to come from those holy breasts is sold at the shrine. Expecting mothers especially care about the candy as it is said to ensure an easy delivery and good childcare.
There’s also a legend that the breasts have nourished Emperor Jimmu who was the first Emperor of Japan.
The main approach to the shrine in the cave, viewed from a bit farther away.
There was also a smaller shrine on the grounds.
And then it was time to leave.
I took yet the same bus again to approach my final destination which wasn’t too far away: Sunmesse.
If you know some Japanese, you can read more about Udo Shrine here.