Since I couldn’t travel to the Philippines, Indonesia, or New Zealand this summer, I decided to take a trip to Kyushu Island—also known as the tropics of Japan. I’ve been to Kyushu around 6 times (most notably for my Yakushima Birthday Adventure), but this time my goal was to explore hard-to-reach destinations in Miyazaki Prefecture. Kyushu is most famous for Fukuoka and Okinawa, but Miyazaki is just as beautiful as those places and has some extremely rare gems like Takachiho Gorge. Surprisingly some Japanese people don’t even know about Takachiho because it’s so remote. If you like swimming and outdoor adventures, then Miyazaki is the place for you!
My plan was stay for 4 days and travel to the following destinations:
Narita Airport (Tokyo) ⇛ Miyazaki Airport (Kyushu) ⇛ Aoshima Island ⇛ Takaharu City (for Totoro Bus Stop) ⇛ Aoshima Island (for rest) ⇛ Takachiho Gorge ↺ Tokyo
I previously went to Miyazaki in 2018 and paid nearly 50000 yen for my plane ticket because I was traveling during a holiday. This is sadly the average price of non-discount airlines and is more expensive than international travel to surrounding Asian countries. However, this time I only paid 12000 yen through combining one-way Jetstar and Peach Aviation flights. A huge difference! I will admit that I was a bit nervous traveling here during the pandemic, but this is one of my last summer vacations before I start working full time again. Both airlines took great lengths to ensure our safety and enforced social distancing more than the trains in the city so I was grateful. Kyushu can also be reached by train, but it takes 6-9 hours by shinkansen and is usually more expensive than airfare. I recommend flying to save time and also to feel more comfortable.
I boarded my plane mid-afternoon at Narita Airport and had a smooth 2 hour flight directly to Miyazaki Airport. All I brought with me was my Totoro purse and backpack so check-in was no problem. Once I arrived, I could already feel the ocean breeze from outside so I instantly felt relaxed. There is a cheap bus that runs from the airport to Aoshima Beach, but since I was chasing sunsets I hailed a taxi there. I arrived just in time to watch the sun set and get some swimming in. I also pounded down 2 glasses of wine while wearing a fake Gucci shirt I bought in Osaka. It felt great to be back again!
Aoshima is a fantastic beach because it’s connected to a tiny island by a bridge you can walk over. On the island you will find a shrine, some unique rock formations called the Devil’s Washboard, random bars, and infinite palm trees. You can see the whole island in 15 mins or less but I decided to go swimming here even after the main beach had closed. After it started getting dark, I decided to walk back and relax at Aoshima Park. This area has a variety of restaurants and bars and usually stays open until 8pm-10pm depending on the day. There is a free alkaline shower you can use here as well!
For dinner, I decided to try the famous Aoshima Crab Bowl for 3000 yen. It came with a whole rainbow of sashimi with it too:
10/10. After feeling fulfilled, I decided to head back to my guest house and get some sleep. I was venturing all the way to the legendary Totoro Bus Stop the next day, after all. The party had just begun.
Where to Stay
The two best options for backpackers to stay at in Aoshima are Hooju Guest House and Fisherman’s Beach Side Hostel. Both are 2100 yen per night and are located right on the beach. They are extremely simple and have limited amenities, but are perfect for those who are planning on doing outdoor activities for most of their stay. I felt extremely welcome during my time here and the other people in my dorm were respectful. There is also bike rental available which saved me a lot of time!
As far as onsen go, I recommend the day hot spring at Grantia Hotel in Aoshima. It has an indoor and outdoor onsen, sauna, and only costs 850 yen to enter. A perfect way to unwind after the beach!
Alternatively you could stay near Miyazaki Station if you are planning to visit other cities in Kyushu. Aoshima is about a 45min bus ride away from the city center so you won’t be on the beach, but you will be close to it. No matter which location you choose, there’s a lot to see and do!
One thing I loved about Miyzaki Airport is that all of the clocks resemble smiling suns. The polar opposite of the Majora’s Mask Moon! Miyazaki Airport is one of the happiest airports that you’ll visit. The only thing that comes close is the Koh Samui Airport in Thailand with its beautiful outdoor garden.
When I first visited Miyazaki in 2018, I stayed with two of my friends in their town house near Miyazaki Station. This was very convenient for taking transportation and I got to know so much of the city thanks to their guidance. While I was out running, I remember passing by this stunning pink house in their neighborhood. The bright color and gorgeous design of the windows were extremely eye-catching. Plus it looked extremely spacious. That got me thinking… If I ever get over my “party every weekend” phase, I might enjoy living in a house like this near the beach. It’s really hard to predict the future at this point because Tokyo has the most financial opportunities for me, but it’s fun to fantasize about. Where is your dream house?
Thank you for reading the first article of my Miyazaki Series! I will be talking about visiting the famous Totoro Bus Stop in my next article. Please stay tuned for more.