Aoshima – 青島
Today we talk about Aoshima!
Here, as in Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures, you can feel the tropical atmosphere of Southern Kyūshū.
What kind of place is Aoshima?
Aoshima is not far from Miyazaki City, the main city of Miyazaki Prefecture.
Its area is about 4.4 hectares and it has a perimeter of 860 meters.
The island is connected to the mainland through the Yayoi bridge, so you don’t need to take boats or planes to reach it from the mainland.
Since Aoshima’s soil overlaps in steps regularly, there’s a rock called “demon’s washboard”. Due to its rarity, in Japan it is believed that this island’s seabed formation, eroded by the waves, have originated from divine intervention.
It has been proved that Aoshima is home to more than 200 species of tropical plants, so this means that this is the northernmost community of subtropical plants in the world.
At Aoshima Shrine, located in the inner part of the island, four main festivals are celebrated throughout the year: among these, the most famous is the Fuyu-sai (which corresponds to the festival that celebrates the reaching of adulthood).
The Fuyu-sai was once called “Hadakairi (naked dance)” because, in the past, the boys and the girls used to visit the temple while being naked. Nowadays, the shrine priest, the young boys, girls and other believers just enter the water and pray.
How to reach Aoshima
Aoshima is located in the Southern Kyūshū, so from Tōkyō and Kansai area it becomes a quite remote place. Traveling by plane might be the best way.
Impression about Aoshima
I went towards Aoshima by traveling southwards on the railway, along the coast line of Miyazaki Prefecture.
I had been beholding the tropical woods from the window, while the clouds were leaving. Arrived at Miyazaki Station, I changed on the Nichinan Line, whose train was full of students heading to school.
Aoshima Station, a little no-manned station, had wild flowers surrounded platforms, and the building was quite nice. The area in front of it was covered by blue tiles and decorated with palm trees: the atmosphere was very lively.
Out of the waiting room some boys were taking pictures under the station sign, so we took each other some pictures.
Just out of the station I noticed a small building which was a baggage drop office. I entered the building and a kind old woman welcomed me. There is no baggage drop office in the station, so I left my luggage there and I was given information about the route to Aoshima,
In just 10 walking minutes from the station I saw the “entrance” to the island: on the way heading to the white sand beach there were some souvenir and ice-cream shops: I tried the famous Miyazaki Prefecture’s mango ice-cream, and it was so creamy and tasty that I was going to buy a second one!
A wonderful landscape was extending from the beach and I remember that I was very impressed. In front of me Aoshima was floating on the waves, covered by green. In the water on the sides of the bridge there were many surfers.
At the end of the bring a huge red torii takes place, and the main entrance to Aoshima Shrine is just beyond it.
The sea and the palm trees created such an atmosphere that I felt like being in Okinawa.
In the Shrine area there are some small shops selling amulets and lucky charms (omamori).
The main hall is a big vermillion building, not far from it you can see a small shrine in a tropical atmosphere.
Walking along the emas (wooden prayer tablets), I felt like reaching a place that exists only in fables. Aoshima really impressed me!
I quit the shrine and went on a stroll along the island’s perimeter. On its eastern cape a small light house marking Aoshima’s position takes place: it was coming out the cloudy sky in a very unusual atmosphere.
Among the places I visited in Japan, Aoshima has become one of my favorites.
If you are in Southern Kyūshū don’t miss this island!