Aoshima Island and Naked Shrine Visits, Nichinan Coastline
Located along the beautiful Nichinan Coastline (日南海岸), Aoshima Island (青島) is a very small island in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is very picturesque and fulfills most people’s visions of Miyazaki as it is filled with beaches and palm trees.
It’s connected to the main land via a bridge. The island is famous for Aoshima Shrine but even more so for being surrounded by unique rock formations called “Ogre’s Washboard” (鬼の洗濯板 – oni no sentakuita) because of their natural shape.
Do take some time exploring the rocks around the island before heading to the other attractions. They are quite unique and make for interesting photographs. A lot of people often like to search for a small rock to take home as a souvenir from their journey!
The entrance to the shrine is located on the other side of Aoshima Island, so you cannot see it from the mainland. However, Aoshima Island is rather small and easy to circle in the short time, especially if you have your own car or are taking one of the many bus tours leaving from Miyazaki Station.
Aoshima Shrine is known as the shrine of marriage, and as such you’ll find it is common to see brides and grooms taking photos and praying at this shrine.
While it has all the normal activities at shrines across Japan, there are also a few unique ones that make it worth a visit. The whole island of Aoshima used to be off-limits to visit and was considered very sacred. There are many deities enshrined here and a beautiful statue of Benzaiten, one of Hyuga’s seven lucky gods, holding a biwa for people to visit.
A fun activity involves throwing plates. You are supposed to try to hit a certain area and then it means you’ll be blessed with good fortune.
Another popular activity is Aoshima Shrine is actually an event that takes place annually, which is the Hadaka Mairi or the ‘naked shrine visit’. Taking place around the New Year, a taiko drum performance will be held in the town center, as men and women dressed in white loin cloths wildly make their way down to the beach in order to bathe in the cold waters. This is done for them to pray for good health and safety in the coming year.
If you happen to be traveling around this season, it is a must-see!
13-1, Aoshima 2-Chome, Miyazaki City
[post by Beth]
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