- I was in Aoshima half day in April 2013.
- Time needed to visit it: less than half a day.
- My score: 3/5.
Unknown place is Miyazaki Prefecture. Most tourists do not even know where it is, and its only place that is gradually becoming famous internationally, the incomparable Takachiho Gorge,those few travelers who think they know where it is usually locate it in neighboring Kumamoto. Aoshima is another place that, although it lacks the beauty of the previous one, could be much better known if it were not so far from other tourist spots.
The island only measures 1.5 km in circumference. It consists of a sandy oval surface covered with tropical vegetation supported by a basaltic floor of horizontal columns called Oni no Sentakuita (literally the “Devil’s Washboard”) and that can be seen perfectly at low tide, being a frequent phenomenon in the Nichinan Coast. It looks like the flysch on Zumaia beach, famous for representing Dragonstone in the TV series Game of Thrones, although as an anecdote, Aoshima’s is from volcanic origin while that of Zumaia, which represents it, is not.
By the way, if anyone still thinks that this Aoshima Island is the island of the cats of Japan, it is wrong, that is another island of the same name famous because there are more cats in it than people.
It is connected by a bridge. The island, including the Washboard, is considered a natural monument of the country. It has more than 200 species of plants, 27 of them considered tropical or subtropical.
Access is free and is always open. After the bridge, we will see a large torii that indicates the entrance. It is surrounded by sand, but given the short distance to the Devil’s Washboard, bathing is impossible.
Vegetation is very dense and diverse, almost jungle, and we will also find some colorful gardens.
The Shinto shrine (Aoshima Jinja) is surrounded by such vegetation; It is said that it gives good luck to couples. It consists of a main building from where a path covered in arches in the shape of a heart leads to a small sanctuary. Open from 8 am to 6 pm in summer and at 5:30 in winter. There is a lovely path covered with ema tablets, where people ask the gods for luck in love. It celebrates an important spring festival, in the third week of March.
Outside the island, in the village, we can visit a small botanical garden.
HOW TO GET THERE
Aoshima Village is on the JR Nichinan line, so we can arrive using our Japan Rail Pass (370 ¥ if we do not have it), it takes 30 minutes from Miyazaki Station. You can also go by bus, but they take and cost twice as much. From Aoshima Station to the island there is barely 5 minutes on foot.
WHERE TO EAT AND SLEEP
Aoshima is a town known in the area not only for its island-sanctuary, but for its beaches. Although most visit the island on a half-day excursion from Miyazaki, those who wish to stay have several hotels, all close to the beaches given how small the town is. There are also enough restaurants.
On the island itself, being occupied by the Sanctuary, and being a protected space, it is not allowed to stay overnight or there is nothing to eat.