Aoshima shrine is one of the most spiritual locations not only in Miyazaki but in all of Japan. The significance of the location in the Japanese Mythology and the surrounding beauty of Aoshima Beach make this a must visit location. It has a special place in the heart of Miyazaki people and you will know why when you visit.
Aoshima is a popular location with locals and tourists alike, with many shops and tourist attractions in the immediate area but the main attraction has always been Aoshima Shrine. Aoshima shrine is located on a small island measuring 1.5km around, floating majestically above the blue ocean of Aoshima Beach. Aoshima Island is accessed by a walk bridge called the Yayoi Bridge which crosses the narrow channel between Aoshima Beach and Aoshima Island. The first thing you will notice when crossing this bridge is the beautiful rock formation called Onino-Sentakuiwa or Devil's Washboard. These rock formations are naturally formed along this coastline and this is one of the best spots in the area to view this natural wonder.
Once you have finished crossing the bridge, you will see a large red Torii (sacred arch) some way along the path. Once you have passed under this Torii, you have entered the realm of the gods. Up until the Edo period, the entire Aoshima Island was considered sacred and ordinary people were forbidden from entering the island. Taking a moment to appreciate the historical importance of the land you are stepping on makes visiting the island that much more special. Continue along the main path and you will find yourself at the gates of Aoshima Shrine.
Aoshima shrine is not only beautiful but praying here is said to bring good fortune in childbirth, marriage, matchmaking, and safety at sea. The deities enshrined here are Yamasachi-Hiko (Grandfather to Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor of Japan), Princess Toyotama who was Yamasachi-Hiko's wife (daughter of the god of the sea) and Shiotsuchi-no-Okina who is a mythical figure that appears throughout the Japanese Mythology.
To the right of the main shrine building, you will find an area where hundreds of wooden charms are hung on display. These wooden charms can be purchased at the shrine store. Writing your wish for the future and hanging it up in this area is said to bring you good luck in achieving your wish. If there is something you want to wish for, this is your first chance to do so.
As much as the island and shrine are important in the Mythology of Japan, Aoshima Island is home to many Birouju palm trees and local tropical plants which makes it a great place to enjoy Miyazaki's unique tropical trees and flora as well. Walking through this area with hundreds of hanging wooden charms puts you on a jungle path which feels like you are stepping into a subtropical jungle. Keep walking down this path and it will take you to an area called the Moto-Miya. The Moto-Miya is the original praying location for the Aoshima Shrine and this is where fortune telling was carried out in ancient times.
hanging wooden charms puts you on a jungle path which feels like you are stepping into a subtropical jungle. Keep walking down this path and it will take you to an area called the Moto-Miya. The Moto-Miya is the original praying location for the Aoshima Shrine and this is where fortune telling was carried out in ancient times.
At this Moto-Miya is Aoshima Shrines hidden attraction. Here, you can test your fortune by throwing small clay plates called Ameno-Hiraka or small shells into a sacred roped off area. The plates cost 200 yen each and the shells cost 300 yen each. The aim of this attraction is for you to land your plate or shell within the sacred roped-off circle, your wish is said to come true if it lands within the ropes boundary and if it shatters, it is said to ward off bad luck. The proper etiquette for partaking in this attraction is to hold your plate or shell and bow twice towards the sacred roped off rock called an Iwasaka. After bowing, whisper your wish and toss your plate or shell to see what your fortune holds!
Aoshima Shrine is a 30min drive from Miyazaki city and train access is also available. Although most of the shrine and beach front area is paved, the Beach is entirely sand and it's worth noting that wheelchair access can be difficult.
Some photos used in this article were taken at an earlier date.