Hello! I'm the self-proclaimed van girl Kaori Sakai.
I've been spending my weekends traveling all over Japan recently, but what left the biggest impression in me was Miyazaki Prefecture. If someone asked me where I most want to live now, I'd be saying "Miyazaki!" without missing a beat—yeah, it's that amazing. But if you're wondering what's all that good about that place, let me tell you about my 3-day experience and you'll surely be driving on your way there by the time you finish reading this. (That’s what I’m actually hoping for, lol)
Southern prefecture 2 hours away from Tokyo
Before I went to Miyazaki, the first thing that would come to mind was the land of delicious mangoes and chicken, and that it’s in the same country yet so far. But when I bought a plane ticket and visited it for the first time in September 2018, I was like, "Oh my freaking god!!! Did we just arrive already?" The travel time felt just as long as it would take to go to my hometown in Ibaraki. It was crazy. Apparently, you could fly to Miyazaki from Tokyo in just 2 hours. Okay… I guess what I'm trying to say is that Miyazaki should be on every Tokyoite's travel destination list!
Camping car rentals in a surfing paradise!
I almost thought I arrived in California when I stepped out of the airport and felt the warm air and saw lines of palm trees. My plan was to rent an RV and use it to get around and camp at night, so I hunted for the rental place called "PEACE ON EARTH" right away. After I found it, I learned that everybody working there was a transplant from another prefecture. They said the waves in Miyazaki are perfect for surfing and the people very welcoming.
I rented an RV from Deli Boy, and it was a classic van with surfboards. I made sure it was the most awesome looking one. (And it turned out to be manufactured in 1991, which was the same year I was born, so I felt a connection.)
Amazing drive with stunning ocean view!
Waiting for the perfect wave
Important energy supply after surfing @Aoshima Beach Park
The biggest reason I decided to go to Miyazaki was the surfing pilgrimage that I started in 2018. The first place I went to was Aoshima Beach and I took surfing lessons there from a famous local surfer. I totally had a blast even as a beginner surfer because the place was not crowded at all, not to mention the water was crystal clear!
Staying the night at Cinema Heaven!
Cinema Heaven was my base for my surfing adventures—I stayed there on my first night. I was pleasantly surprised to see such artistic community of mostly people my age (in their 20s) living and working together.
You can stay at Airstream in the back, surf shop and stage in the middle building, art gallery and chilout space in the right building.
They had campsites where you can stay in a tent while looking at the superb view of the sea 180 degrees in front of you, hammocks out in the open surrounded by nature, and a bar that would come to life with events at night (cocktails in the bar were legit, by the way). You get to meet and hang out with the locals, other travelers, and the staff.
I camped in their parking lot for one night and took advantage of their pay-for-use facilities. I used their shower facility outside the next morning and it was very refreshing. (You do have to watch out for creepy-crawlies as the showers are outside. Lol)
Amazing geography and fabulous local food
Miyazaki boasts lots of awesome daytrip spots. For example, I went to Aoshima Beach Park and Takachiho Gorge, and saw Udo Shrine, Sun Messe Nichinan, and other Moai or monolithic human stone carvings.
(Title: The eighth moyai)
Takachiho Gorge is popular for boat rides, which unfortunately I wasn't able to do, so I'll make sure to do next time.
It's also not that far to drive to Kumamoto Prefecture and see Mt. Aso and Kamishikimi Kumanoza Shrine. Miyazaki Prefecture is a long strip of land that goes from south to north, so it doesn't run out of breathtaking scenery when you go for a drive. Not only the sea but also the mountain was surprisingly powerful in Miyazaki.
Another thing that you won't forget when you visit Miyazaki is the food. It's amazing. Chicken Nanban is a famous local delicacy. They actually have many different versions of it and it's so much fun to try them all and compare. If it's your first time there, absolutely try going to "Nao-chan" even if you had to wait in line. (I went there before they opened the restaurant but still had to wait in line for an hour after they opened. It's that popular in the area!)
Pleasant surprise at the Roadside Station
I stayed at Sakatani Roadside Station on my second night. I rented a parking space on the corner and camped for the night peacefully with other car campers. Unfortunately, though, something broke my peace in the morning when I heard something rustling by the curtain. I saw this moth-like creature and mustered all my strength to try and shoo it away. But as I was trying to remove it, I noticed that it looked more like a small animal than a bug...a flying mammal...?
Yes, a BAT! I screamed (and died a little inside). Apparently, it took cover behind the curtain when I opened the window and joined me in my slumber. I think I almost killed it with my piercing scream as it hurried away into the outside world.
I couldn't have had a more "thrilling" Miyazaki road trip experience without my unexpected encounter with Mr. Bat. I hope that you enjoyed reading my article and I also hope that it sparked even just a teeny bit of motivation to visit Miyazaki very soon. Until next time! ♬