In my previous blog on Kyushu, I introduced Nagasaki and Kumamoto. In this blog, I will focus on Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. Once again, we at TAB Narita/Tokyo would like to inform you that there is ferry service between Kyushu and Tokyo that can accommodate our campervans. In Japan, which is surrounded by the sea, it is possible to travel relatively long distances via land and return in a relaxed manner by ferry.

Miyazaki

Have you seen a photo or video of this place creating a buzz on social media?

This is Takachiho Gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture. Some of our clients have visited this beautiful location in our campervans. Over the millennia, this picturesque gorge, at seven kilometers in length and with cliffs rising to 100 meters in some areas, has been formed by volcanic activity from Mt. Aso and the eroding power of the Gokase River. The sight that awaits visitors at Takachiho Gorge is spectacular with photos struggling to truly capture the beauty. Basalt columns that were formed by volcanic activity from Mt. Aso make up much of the gorge’s walls. Down in the gorge, I felt the creative power of the volcano. A memorable experience is renting a rowboat where you can enjoy the view from the river and take in the 17-meter-high Minainotaki waterfall as it cascades into the river below. When visiting Takachiho Gorge, give yourself ample time to take in how the shifting light provides visitors with an everchanging scene.

About a 15-minute walk from the main viewing area of Takachiho Gorge is Zipang, a Miyazaki beef restaurant where you can enjoy delectable wagyu beef grilled on a shichirin (a charcoal grill placed on the table). It was amazingly tender and delicious!

For a deep dive into Japanese folklore, drive about 20 minutes from Takachiho Gorge to Amanoyasukawara. Amanoyasukawara is a cave where, according to legend, the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami hid, plunging the world into darkness. Crops failed to grow, and epidemics broke out. The eight million deities from all over Japan gathered and tried to draw her out. It was not until one of the gods performed a crude dance that produced hysterical laughter from the other gods that Amaterasu was drawn out of the cave and light came back into the world. Leading to the entrance of the cave, which is about 25 meters deep and 30 meters wide. you can see countless piles of stones that people have stacked as prayers. The sight is so mysterious that you may feel the same sense of wonder wrapping around your body that I felt. It is very interesting to learn about the mythological background of this place, but even if you do not, this is a place where you can feel a mystical atmosphere, and the sound of the murmuring river makes it a peaceful place to visit. There is a shrine about a 10-minute walk away, so you may want to draw a fortune here. English omikuji are available. I drew a “daikichi” (great blessing), and I am feeling positive that I will have a good year because of it.

Another excellent destination lies in southwestern Miyazaki, near the border of Kagoshima Prefecture, the Ebino Plateau. Here you can enjoy hiking amongst the several ponds/lakes that have formed due to the volcanic activity in the area. It is especially spectacular in the fall as the autumn colors set the plateau ablaze which creates a beautiful contrast with the ponds! If you are lucky, you may even see wild deer! In winter, you can enjoy ice skating at the outdoor skating rink that is located in the Ebino Plateau village area. Roadside Station Ebino is about a 30-minute drive north, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to stay in your campervan.

Kagoshima

Kagoshima is the southernmost prefecture in Kyushu and has many destination-worthy places to visit with many people listing Yakushima Island as the best. Yakushima is said to be the setting of the Ghibli movie Princess Mononoke. On Yakushima is the Jomon Sugi, a several thousand-year-old cedar tree which is registered as a World Heritage Site. The hike to the tree is said to take about 10 hours round-trip, so those who are confident in their ability and up for an adventure should give it a try. With beautiful untouched nature and sweet and tasty water with no impurities along the way, the long hike is surely worth it. To reach Yakushima, there is a ferry that can accommodate campervans from the Kagoshima mainland.

In the heart of Kagoshima Bay lies Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanos that regularly smokes and often spews ash into the air. Once an island, Sakuraima was connected to the mainland due to a major eruption in 1914, so you can drive there and enjoy viewing this powerful sight up close. Sakurajima is fairly small at about 50 kilometers in circumference, but due to all the volcanic activity, there are numerous hot spring facilities, a lava rock promenade with many footbaths, and a roadside station.

Kagoshima is blessed with hot springs, and the most interesting is the sand steam bath, sunamushi, at Ibusuki Hakusuikan Onsen. With a 300-year history of bringing relaxation, visitors wear yukatas and are buried in sand that has a temperature of 50 to 55 degree Celsius for about 10 minutes and afterwards shower to remove the sweat and any sand. Recently, the efficacy of the sunamushi has been scientifically reported making it even more well known. Sunamushi hot springs can be experienced not only at day-trip facilities but also at inns and hotels in the Kagoshima Bay area.

Kyushu is a fascinating region with abundant nature, fabulous hot springs, rich culture and delicious food. If you choose to go there, I highly recommend travelling by campervan as this will allow to you to enjoy the scenery, stop whenever you find something that catches your attention and not be restricted by train or lodging schedules. At TAB Narita/Tokyo, we can help make this a trip of a lifetime.

About the Author

Sayuri

I have been travelling by campervan to various areas all over Japan for more than 5 years. My goal is to visit all 47 prefectures in Japan! Just 12 more prefectures to go and I'll have accomplished it! I hope I can share some of information of wonderful places in Japan.

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