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Aoshima Island
An island connected to the mainland, surrounded by the Devil’s Washboard

This mystical location was once off limits to the public as a sacred spot.

Aoshima Island is a small, 1.5 km circumference island located to the southeast of Miyazaki City. The island is connected to Aoshima Beach on the mainland by the “Yayoi Bridge,” and in summer tourists throng here. The island is home to over 220 rare plant species including various subtropical plants, and is a perfect place to get a real feel for Miyazaki’s “south seas” atmosphere. Especially noteworthy are the strange rock formations, known as the Devil’s Washboard, which encircle Aoshima. A long, long time ago, geological changes repeated over many long months and years, caused the ocean floor to rise up, and on top of this the erosion of the wind and waves gave rise to wavy rock formations resembling saw teeth. Its resemblance to an enormous washboard is what gave it its devilish nickname. In 1934, it was designated a national natural monument under the title “Raised Seabed and Unusual Wave-cut Rocks of Aoshima.” Aoshima Shrine, located on the center of the island, is also famed as the site of the myth of Umisachihiko and Yamasachihiko. Hikohohodemi no Mikoto, also known as Yamasachihiko, and his wife Toyotama-hime are enshrined here, making it a popular shrine for couples to visit. In summer the parishioners perform the “sea-crossing ritual,” where they carry the divine palanquin, and winter sees the famous “naked prayer visit” where around 300 men and women perform a purification ritual in the sea in front of the shrine. More than 280 years ago, the island was closed off to visitors as hallowed ground, so even today it is treated as a spot of spiritual importance. The contrast of the azure blue ocean waters and the crimson red of the torii archway, not to mention the dense overgrowth of greenery, makes this location almost a work of art.
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  • Aoshima, Miyazaki
  • Fee: No
  • Website
  • 10 minutes on foot from JR Aoshima Station

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