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Exploring Miyazaki

Back to Kyushu this time for Exploring Japan with Miyazaki Prefecture.

Miyazaki Prefecture is located on the southeastern part of Kyushu, facing the Pacific Ocean.  It has a population of 1,128,412.  The capital city is Miyazaki.  The 5 largest cities are:

  1. Miyazaki (399,834)
  2. Miyakonojo (168,072)
  3. Nobeoka (131,182)
  4. Hyuga (63,223)
  5. Nichinan (57,689)

The population of the prefecture and most of the cities are in a decline due to the low birth rate.  However, Miyazaki city is growing as many people move to the city.

Castles

Aya Castle in the small town of Aya is a reconstruction from 1985.  However, it’s design is based on pictures of other castles that were built around the same time Aya Castle was.

Obi Castle in Nichinan is mainly ruins, though the main gate has been reconstructed.  There are a few other buildings on the grounds, including a museum.

Nobeoka Castle in Nobeoka consists of ruins.  There weren’t many buildings at this castle in the first place, and no main keep.

Things to see and do

My impression of Miyazaki originally was fruit and surfing.  Miyazaki does attract a lot of surfers to its beaches, but Miyazaki is very well known for growing many kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Miyazaki, the capital, is a popular tourist and resort city.  Aoshima Beach is a major attraction.  It’s great for surfing and Aoshima island is also popular with its shrine and interesting geological features. The Aoshima Subtropical Botanical Garden should be nice to see. Miyazaki-jingu shrine is dedicated to Japan’s first emperor, Jinmu.   You can visit the Heiwadai Tower in Heiwadai Garden.  The city has a zoo, the Miyazaki-city Phoenix Zoo.  Tom Watson Golf Course is also in the city and is one of Japan’s most famous and popular golf courses.

Ebino city doesn’t have much to see, but I found a couple of events that seem interesting.  In late July, there’s the Cow Jumping Festival.  Cows jump logs to celebrate the health of livestock.  August sees the Taiko Festival and Odaiko Odori, both Taiko drum festivals.

Hyuga has an interesting sight.  The Mimitsu area has a lot of traditional, historic buildings from the 19th century.

Kobayashi city has several things to see and do.  Ikoma Plateau provides a great view of the city from its flower garden. Idenoyama Park has an aquarium, restaurants, and a lake.  It also hosts the Firefly Festival. Sannomiya Gorge would be great to see. Cross the Suki Suspension Bridge, and you can visit the Mamako Falls. Inyoseki is a fertility shrine with a rock shaped like a phallus.

Nichinan seems like a very interesting city.  Apart from the Obi Castle ruins, there’s plenty to see.  I’m interested in Udo Shrine, which was built into the side of a seaside cliff.  Horikawa Canal District features a restored canal. Tsu no Mine is a mountain with a good view of the port area. Sun Messe Nichinan features replicas of 7 Moai Statues of Easter Island. Aburatsu Port Festival has rowing and bow and arrow competitions.  The Obi Castle Festival has an interesting looking parade procession.

Saito city has a few interesting places to see.  Saitobaru is a National Special Historic site with a historical research facility. It features 311 burial mounds in 9 clusters. The Tonokori Castle ruins are also in Saito.  Tsuma Temple seems interesting, as well.

Takachiho is a small town that has some historic sites.  The Takachiho Gorge and the Minai Waterfall are great to see from a boat. The Ama-no-iwato shrine is situated above the gorge. There’s plenty to see at Shonenji temple, as well.  You can also see Takachiho Shrine and the Takachiho Onsen (hot springs).  At the base of the gorge, there are a couple teahouses that serve nagashi somen, which are noodles that flow down bamboo chutes.

Food

Miyazaki is famous for its fruit, of course.  But something that looks really good to me is the chicken. Specifically, sumibiyaki, which is chicken meat cut into small pieces and charbroiled.  Chicken Nanban is marinated in sweet and sour sauce, then deep fried.  Sounds good!

Have you been to Miyazaki?  What would you recommend? Please leave a comment!

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Exploring Chiba

This week’s Exploring Japan is Chiba Prefecture, the first of 6 prefectures that I’ve actually been to.

Chiba is located in the Kanto region of eastern Honshu.  It’s immediately east of Tokyo, and is part of the Great Tokyo area.  It has a population of 6,201,046.  The capital city is Chiba, on Tokyo Bay.  The 5 largest cities are:

  1. Chiba (962,624)
  2. Funabashi (610,572)
  3. Matsudo (481,574)
  4. Ichikawa (469,603)
  5. Kashiwa (404,262)

Chiba is a very urban prefecture, especially in the northwest.  However, on the Boso Peninsula, there are many mountains and natural areas.  Chiba is well-known for its numerous golf courses and surfing.

Castles

Otaki Castle is a decent looking castle in Otaki.  Apparently, the reconstruction may be an older version of the castle.

Inohana Castle (or Chiba Castle) is located in Chiba city.  It’s a more recent reconstruction.

Kururi Castle in Kimitsu city is a rather small one.  Only a 2 storey tower.  It’s in the mountains, and little remains of the original castle. It’s a reconstruction.

Sekiyado Castle is a 1995 reconstruction in Sekiyado.  It’s not an accurate reconstruction, nor is it in the original location.

Tateyama Castle is a 1982 reconstruction in Tateyama.  No record exists of the original plans, so it’s modeled after Inuyama Castle.

Sports

Chiba has a professional baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines in Chiba city.  There are also two J-League soccer teams, JEF United Ichihara Chiba and Kashiwa Reysol.

Things to see and do

As Chiba is close to Tokyo, there are a lot of things to see and do.  Probably the biggest attraction is Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea in Urayasu.  There are some well-known beaches with resorts and surfing, such as Kujukuri Beach. One of the more interesting sites that I really want to visit is Nokogiriyama.  It has a Great Buddha, Kannon, and an incredible view from a sheer cliff.  It’s in Futtsu. Also places I’d like to see are Kamogawa Sea World and Narita-san Shinshouji temple.

In Chiba, I’d like to visit a few places.  One of the big attractions is Kaihin-Makuhari, a city of the future.  It has many things, including Chiba Marine Stadium, Makuhari Messe (a big convention centre) and very modern complex of apartments and shopping centres.  The Chiba Port Tower provides a view from its observation deck.  Oyumino has some good parks, including Sakura Park, Izumiya Park and the Four Season Roads.  Also, the Oyumino Fireworks Festival is popular.

Ichihara is home to the Chiba Museum of Science and Industry.

In Kashiwa, there’s a lot of shopping, but also the Kashiwa Festival, which features a lot of food.

Katori has plenty to see. Katori Jingu is a well-known shrine. Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanical Garden looks very interesting. Kampukuji seems like an interesting temple.  There’s also a historic street and the Sawara Festival to see.

In Kisarazu, you can see the Kimisarazu tower at the top of Odayama in a mountain park.  You can also gather shellfish.

Matsudo has a great temple called Hondouji, where you can view thousands of hydrangea, irises and maple trees.  Manmanji is a big temple that looks quite nice, too.

Narita is famous for Narita Airport, the main international airport servicing the Kanto area, but it’s also got a lot of nice attractions. Of course, there’s Narita-san Shinshouji temple, which is incredibly popular and very busy around New Year’s Day.  It has many important cultural treasures.  You can also see the Museum of Aeronautical Science and the Chiba Prefectural Flower and Tree Center.  But one thing I’d love to see is Boso no Mura, a living museum of traditional Japanese culture.

Onjuku is famous for surfing and its beach.

Sakura has some notable sites.  Around the ruins of Sakura Castle are some old samurai houses.  There are also several museums, most notably the National Museum of Japanese History. There’s even a Dutch windmill in the city.

Food

As a seaside prefecture, Chiba has a lot of seafood.  However, it is the biggest producer of soy sauce in Japan, and is home to Kikkoman.  Chiba is also famous for futomaki, literally “fat roll.”  It’s a fat sushi roll that can be quite artistic.

I’m sure there are many other places to see in Chiba, but it’s your turn to make some recommendations.  Please leave a comment!

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