Miyazaki is the capital of the Miyazaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu and is also known as the main hub for domestic tourism in this part of Japan.
Miyazaki is nestled along the south eastern coast of the island and as such it is known for its gorgeous beaches as well as its resorts and water sports attractions.
When you are in town however, you can not only spend time enjoying the sun, sea and surf, but can also visit Miyazaki proper, as well as taking some excellent day trips to other spots in the surrounding area such as Kirishima which is a famous hiking region and Takachiho, a delightful traditional town.
Here are the 15 best things to do Miyazaki…
1. Walk around Heiwadai-koen
This park in Miyazaki is known as an iconic part of the city as it is place where you will find the Peace Tower which soars to a height of 37 meters.
The tower is special as it dates from 1940, when it was erected right before the tumultuous devastation of the Second World War in Japan.
It is designed to look like something that was built during the time of the Khmer Kingdom in Cambodia and it was erected using stone pieces imported from a number of different countries.
This makes a great place to come for a walk in the afternoon and enjoy the rolling hills.
2. Visit Miyazaki jingu
Miyazaki jingu is known for being a shrine that was built to honor the former Emperor Jimmu which was also known for being the first emperor of Japan.
With that in mind, the shrine is said to date back some 2,600 years making it one of the oldest relics still on show in the city.
The best time to visit this amazing shrine is in April as this is when the wisteria plants for which the grounds are famous burst into full bloom.
As such, you can spend time checking out the ornate decorations of the shrine as well as walking in the colorful and serene gardens.
3. Take a trip to Udo Shrine
Udo Shrine is also known in Japanese as Udo Jingu and is situated on the Nichinan Coast which lies to the south of Miyazaki proper.
The shrine is another temple that honors Emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, and is known for its pretty hued walls and interior.
The shrine is also notable as it is located in a cave which is part of a cliff side, and the whole attraction looks out over the sea, making this a top spot if you want to take in some spectacular views for which this part of Japan is famous.
4. Travel to Aoshima
The island of Aoshima is one of the main reasons to come Miyazaki and it is known for its pretty beaches where you can relax on the sand and swim in the pretty waters that surround Aoshima.
As well as its picture-postcard good looks, Aoshima is also famous for its rock faces which are made up of layers that back into the sea and make for some great photo opportunities.
People also flock here to visit the local temple as Japanese residents believe that if you pray here then you will be able to find a spouse in the coming year.
5. Tour the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History
If you want to learn a little more about the history of Miyazaki then you need to plan a visit to the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History.
Here you will find a range of galleries which are dedicated to filling you in on the history and culture of this part of Japan.
You will also find collections of traditional arts and crafts as well as archeological relics and there are even a number of old farmhouses here which will show you how people would have lived and worked here in the days of old.
6. Take a trip to Takachiho
Takachiho is a very important town in the history of Miyazaki Prefecture and lies to the north of Miyazaki City.
This town is known for a number of local legends, such as one which related to Amaterasu who is the Sun Goddess in the Shinto religion, as well as Ninigi no Mikoto who was her grandson.
As a result you can visit a number of shrines and temples here on a visit such as the Amano Iwato Shrine and other key spots to make sure you don’t miss off the itinerary include a trip to the scenic Takachiho Gorge.
7. Go surfing
Miyazaki is known for being one of the top surfing spots in the whole of Japan.
As this city is located on the coast, the surf conditions are excellent, and if you are staying in town you can easily make the trip down to one of the many beaches in the area.
The waves are said to be solid pretty much all year round although people usually come here in the summer months, and locals will tell you that the best way to end a day of surfing is to linger on the beach and watch the flaming sunsets which are legendary in this part of Japan.
8. Visit Phoenix Zoo
One of the main attractions in Miyazaki itself is the Phoenix Zoo which expands over some 13 million square meters and is known for having 1,200 animals on show encompassing 100 different species.
Some of the animals that you can expect to see here include elephants, tigers, giraffes and zebras as well as pandas and birds like flamingos.
There are also a number of animal shows and feeding times that you can watch here as well as rides like horse and cart rides.
In the summer months there is also a pool here that has a range of water slides for the whole family to cool off in.
9. Have a drink at Aya Shusen-no-mori
Miyazaki, like many part of Kyushu is known for its liquor which is similar to vodka and is called shochu.
One of the best places to try the local tipple however is in the neighboring town of Aya which is some 20 kilometers outside of Miyazaki and is the home of the Aya Shusen-no-mori brewery.
Here you will find local beers, wines and shochu on show and you can learn all about how these are made, as well as sample some of the best brews in the region at the same time.
If you don’t have time to travel to Aya then you will also find a wide range of bars selling shochu in Miyazaki proper.
10. Travel to Kirishima
Kirishima is a mountain range that is nestled between Kagoshima Prefecture and Miyazaki.
The range consists of mountains, lakes and hot springs, and this is also an active volcanic area of Kyushu.
If you want to go hiking in the region then this is an excellent place to do it and one of the best things to do at the end of a long hike is check out some of the local onsen.
These are local hot springs and the water is naturally heated as a result of the volcanic activity still ongoing underground.
11. Relax at Seagaia Resort
If you want to make the most of the sun, sea and sand for which Miyazaki is famous then you need to head to the Phoenix Seagaia Resort which is located along the coast to the north of Miyazaki City.
Here you will find a huge resort complex which unfurls over some 10 kilometers and is made up of resorts as well as other attractions including local onsen, zoos and gorgeous beaches.
If you want to try water sports then this is also one of the best places to do it in Miyazaki.
12. Enjoy the flowers at Florante Miyazaki
Florante Miyazaki is a flower park which is known for its brightly hued blooms that you can see throughout the year.
The reason for this is that there are a number of different flowers on display which bloom in different seasons, and this means that you will not be disappointed no matter when you visit.
Even in the winter months there is something to see here, as the gardens are festooned in lights and take on a fairytale like quality.
You can also go trekking around the park or ride on a small wooden train which cuts through the countryside and lets you see the flowers without having to work up a sweat.
13. Visit Miyazaki Science Center
A great attraction in Miyazaki City, especially if you are travelling with younger visitors, is Miyazaki Science Center.
Here you will find a science museum which has a whole host of interactive galleries that allow visitors to get hands on and learn all about science.
There is also a sizeable planetarium here which is said to be one of the biggest in the world, and you can check out exhibits that include rockets, robots and other scientific wonders that were made in Japan.
14. Play a round of golf
If you want to do a little exercise in Miyazaki then you need to head to the Tom Watson Golf Course.
The course is named after Tom Watson who helped design it and who is known for being a famous American golfer.
This is now one of the best loved courses in all of Japan and hosts a number of tournaments every year, and the main reason to come here (apart from the golf) is to take in the gorgeous views across the various greens.
15. Walk around Misogi-ike
Misogi-ike is part of the wider Awagigahara Forest Park which is known as Citizen’s Forest in English.
Misogi-ike is the name for the gorgeous pond in the center of the park which is fed by a spring water source and is covered in dainty yellow water lilies which bloom all through the summer months.
As with many sights in Japan, the pond is linked to an ancient legend of purification, but it is also a serene spot to spend an afternoon, especially as the sun is setting across the pretty water.