8 Things Not To Miss in Aoshima, Japan


HIGHLIGHTS

01 AOSHIMA BEACH & PARK
02 HYUGANATSU

03 DEVIL'S WASHBOARD
04 AOSHIMA ISLAND TORII GATE

05 AOSHIMA SHRINE
06 MANGO DESSERT

07 BOTANICAL GARDEN
08 KAMAAGE UDON


Not to be confused with Japan's well-known cat island, Aoshima is a small coastal town located in the Miyazaki Prefecture of southern Japan. Truth be told, we actually had planned to explore the city of Miyazaki for this portion of our trip. Since our hotel was located 20-ish minutes south from the main city in Aoshima we ended up exploring more of this area instead and were pleasantly surprised by what this smaller town had to offer.

Aoshima is definitely a little out of the way and not really on most people’s radars when it comes to exploring southern Kyushu. However after spending some time here, I definitely recommend adding it to your itinerary if you’re in the area or plan to do a road trip around southern Japan. Keep on reading to find out why!


ANA Holiday Inn Resort in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
ANA Holiday Inn Resort in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

WHERE TO STAY

We decided to stay at the ANA Holiday Inn Resort Miyazaki. I know what you’re thinking… you went all the way to Japan and decided to stay at a Holiday Inn? Yup! We didn’t even know that Holiday Inn had resorts plus the pool looked really cool so we decided to check it out.

Upon first glance the building seemed pretty modern but after stepping inside and walking around we could tell that it was on the older side and still has a lot of decor from the 90’s. Our room wasn’t much different but we honestly didn't mind. The price per night was within our budget and we were going to be out and about most of the day anyways :)

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, I would definitely look into staying at the Sheraton in downtown Miyazaki. The biggest bummer, though, was when we found out the pool was closed for maintenance for another 2 months. Having access to the beach and an amazing breakfast buffet definitely made up for it though!


01 AOSHIMA BEACH & PARK

One of the first things we did after arriving in Aoshima was hit up the beach! We visited in the middle of May and I was not prepared for how hot and humid it was going to be (80 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) so wading in the ocean was the perfect way to cool down.

There are signs around the beach that warn against swimming in the ocean due to strong currents. However, we did find out that you can take surfing classes and that this was a popular destination for surfers. I think as long as you’re a strong swimmer it should be fine but, please use your own discretion and be safe if you choose to do so!

The beach was pretty much empty except for a few locals digging for clams and the occasional class of surfers running by. When we came back on a later day, we did notice a few families with younger children playing in the water.

Aoshima Beach in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Aoshima Beach in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

Located at the southern end of the beach is Aoshima Beach Park. There are several food trucks and picnic tables where you can relax and eat after playing at the beach. There are also restrooms nearby so you can wash up.

Aoshima Beach Park in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Aoshima Beach Park in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

Don’t forget to explore the street leading up to the park! There are a lot of neat shops that sell local goods, gifts, ice cream, etc. This is a good place to try the local fruit hyuganatsu and mango dessert.

Aoshima Beach in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

02 TRY HYUGANATSU

Hyuga-what? Hyuganatsu is a fruit native to the Kyushu area and is said to have originated in the Miyazaki Prefecture. Don’t be deceived by this lemon-look-alike though… it’s actually an orange. It peels about the same as a grapefruit and has a sweet, mild citrus flavor.

We bought one to try for 80 yen (a little less than 80 cents US) from a small grocery shop further up the road from Aoshima Beach Park. Since this fruit is so common in Kyushu, you can find a lot of hyuganatsu flavored snacks, candy, and food.

Hyuganatsu Stand in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Hyuganatsu Stand in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Eating Hyuganatsu in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

03 DEVIL'S WASHBOARD

If there’s one thing you don’t want to miss seeing in Aoshima, it’s this. You can also see more of this natural phenomenon as you drive along the southern coast but the main area to check them out at is at the Devil’s Washboard on Aoshima Island. The rock formations look a lot like the waves that formed them and are a lot of fun to explore during low-tide. We found small fish swimming in the pools of water and a lot of hermit crabs.

Devil's Washboard in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Devil's Washboard in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Devil's Washboard in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Devil's Washboard in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

04 AOSHIMA ISLAND TORII GATE

Located on the right side of Aoshima Island is a giant Torii gate. Check it out before making your way to Aoshima Shrine.

Torii Gate in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

05 AOSHIMA SHRINE

Aoshima Shrine is a Shinto shrine located on Aoshima Island that supposedly gives a divine blessing to married couples or to those who want to be married. To the right of the main shrine is, and I kid you not, a tunnel of love. At the entrance to this small path is a trellis with dozens of small wooden plaques where people have written wishes and/or their and their significant other’s names on them. For a small donation, you too can do the same if that’s your jam.

Admission to Aoshima Shrine is free and is open 24/7.

Aoshima Shrine in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Aoshima Shrine in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Aoshima Shrine in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Aoshima Shrine in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

At the end of the path is a small shrine and an area where (for another donation) you can throw terra-cotta disks at a target for good luck. It was fun watching other people attempt to make the target. We also tried and failed but had a good time doing so (hopefully this didn’t cause us to have bad luck).

Aoshima Shrine in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

06 COOL DOWN WITH SOME MANGO DESSERT

Located inside Aoshimaya (the huge store on the main street that leads to the beach park) is a cafe that serves the most delicious mango dessert ever. It’s called “mango crush” and it is a combination of fresh mango, mango syrup, raspberries, blueberries, soft serve ice cream, and mango flavored ice chunks at the bottom. Even though it was pretty pricey (around 7 dollars US), it was the perfect treat after walking around in the hot heat.

Mango Crush in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

07 BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Aoshima Botanical Garden was still a work in progress when we visited so we went and explored the green house nearby! It was absolutely beautiful inside and definitely worth a visit if you have time. Admission to the garden and greenhouse is free.

Botanical Garden Green House in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Botanical Garden Green House in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Botanical Garden Green House in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

08 KAMAAGE UDON

Whenever I visit a new place, I like to try foods that are local to the area. For Miyazaki Prefecture / Aoshima that includes kamaage udon: udon noodles served in hot water that you dip into a seasoned sauce before slurping them up Japanese style.

We tried this dish at a small restaurant located across the street from the Aoshima train station. The noodles at this place were so, so good and I think they were even handmade.

Just a heads up: the workers there barely speak any English and the menu is mostly in Japanese. That’s where google translate can come in handy :) Also, make sure to have some yen handy because this restaurant only takes cash.

Address: Japan, 〒889-2162 Miyazaki-ken, Miyazaki-shi, Aoshima, 2 Chome−9−5

Hours: Open every day except for Tuesdays from 11AM - 6PM.

Udon Restaurant in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture
Udon Restaurant in Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you plan out your trip to Aoshima. For those of you who have been here before, what were some of your favorite things to do? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

XO,

Tina