【Miyazaki Prefecture】A warm climate and friendly local relationships. If you ask someone, they'll help you out!? For those who have never been, we definitely want you to experience the charm of this region's travel.

When asking repeat visitors to Japan, we often hear that they enjoy "interacting with the Japanese people". The Japanese are known for their kindness, and this time, we would like to introduce Miyazaki, a place said to be where you can fully enjoy "interacting with the locals".

Miyazaki, located in the Kyushu region, is known for its warm climate, and is even used as a spring training camp by professional baseball teams in Japan. While it is a region with a warm climate, Miyazaki is characterized by its 'warm-hearted people' even more.

We had a chance to talk to Ms. Togami, who works at the JTB Miyazaki branch. She was surprised by the 'casual and kind nature' of the locals, even though she was transferred from outside the prefecture.

Even among foreigners who love Japan, there are few who have experienced a trip to Miyazaki. This time, we will introduce it especially to you all.

Welcome to the hometown of myths! Touring the power spots of Miyazaki Prefecture

Located in the southeast of Kyushu, the tropical 'Miyazaki Prefecture', blessed with a warm climate and abundant nature, has been home to numerous myths and traditions since ancient times, and is also known as the 'hometown of myths'. Miyazaki Prefecture is divided into four main areas: the northern area, the central area, the western area, and the southern area. This time, we asked Ms. Togami of the JTB Miyazaki branch to introduce places that first-time visitors to Miyazaki should definitely visit.

"Miyazaki Prefecture is known as a land associated with mythology. For those visiting Miyazaki Prefecture for the first time, spots related to mythology are particularly recommended. There are many opportunities to encounter mythology, such as at the museum introducing mythology, 'Hyuga Mythology Museum', and on the information boards at tourist spots."

The northern area is a land of mythology and history that connects over a thousand years. Famous spots include the mysterious gorge created by nature, 'Takachiho Gorge', the dance 'Takachiho Kagura' which is designated as an important intangible folk cultural property of the country, 'Umagaeshi', the best scenic point in Hyuga named after the shape of the cape resembling a "horse's back", and 'Kurusu no Umi' where it is said that wishes come true.

The central area is where a modern city and an ancient capital coexist. Famous spots include 'Aoshima Shrine', surrounded by the national natural monument "Oni no Sentakuita", where people come to pray for victory, including players from the Yomiuri Giants, and 'Teruha Large Suspension Bridge', which is 142m high and 250m long, located in the evergreen forest area of Kyushu Mountain Range National Park.

The southern area is a resort coast with a vast expanse of blue sea and sky. Famous spots include "Toi Cape", where you can overlook the Pacific Ocean and see as far as Tanegashima and Yakushima on a clear day, "Udo Shrine", the most famous shrine in southern Miyazaki and the stage of Japanese mythology of Umisachihiko and Yamasachihiko, "Obi Castle Town" that flourished as a castle town, and "Sun Messe Nichinan" where seven Moai statues of Easter Island are lined up in perfect replicas.

Among them, what Ms. Togami personally recommends the most is "Takachiho's Night Kagura". It is a general term for Kagura, which is dedicated to each village deity in about 20 villages in the town from mid-November to early February every year. It is no exaggeration to say that it is an experience unique to Miyazaki.

This is the soul food loved by the locals!

Miyazaki, a treasure trove of food blessed with a warm climate. You can enjoy various local gourmet dishes, including seafood and mountain delicacies.

Speaking of Miyazaki gourmet, Miyazaki spicy noodles and Chicken Nanban are representative. Miyazaki spicy noodles are a soul food of Miyazaki that makes you sweat with the spicy taste of chili peppers, but you can't help but get addicted to it. Chicken Nanban is a local dish originated from Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture, where crispy fried chicken is soaked in Nanban vinegar and eaten with tartar sauce.

And the dishes that Ms. Togami personally recommends are the Kamayaki Udon, the local chicken charcoal grill, and the deep-fried Mehikari.

What might seem a little surprising is that the people of Miyazaki Prefecture eat udon for breakfast, lunch, and as a finisher for alcohol. Unlike Sanuki udon, the noodles are soft, which is a characteristic of Miyazaki's warmth. By the way, Ms. Togami's favorite shop, Oda Shimaki, is loved by many locals.

The local chicken charcoal grill, also known as "Momo-yaki", is a dish that is seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled over high heat. The charcoal grilling gives it a characteristic blackish color. It's a popular menu item that you can often find in Izakayas. Mehikari, when deep-fried, can be eaten whole without worrying about the bones, making it a popular menu item for both adults and children.

Unexpected and lesser-known customs and culture of Miyazaki Prefecture

What was the first thing that surprised Ms. Togami, who came to Miyazaki for the second year?

"I was most impressed by the warm personality of the people. When you get in a taxi, there's a good chance the driver will start a conversation with you. They talk a lot about the climate of Miyazaki, recommendations for living, and so on. Not only is the climate warm, but the people are too. If you don't know the way and ask a local, they will almost certainly answer you."

"Depending on the region, the accent can be quite strong, characterized by a unique intonation. However, locals in Miyazaki don't seem to feel that they are speaking with an accent or dialect."

"Another thing is the closing dish for alcohol. In Miyazaki, the closing dish for alcohol is not ramen, but udon. Many people eat udon at any time of the day, and they are often surprised when we tell them that the closing dish in other prefectures is ramen."

Originally from Kumamoto, Ms. Togami was transferred to Miyazaki last February.

Her travel style is to first visit major places, then go to local recommended spots. Also, she often researches various information on the internet, mainly about food, and travels for the sake of food.

Not only the tourist attractions of Miyazaki, but also the warmth of the people of Miyazaki Prefecture, listening to Ms. Togami's story feels like a tour around Miyazaki.

Please come to Miyazaki and feel the warmth for yourself.