Dancing All Night: Takachiho’s Yokagura Festival

Miyazaki’s own Takachiho-cho is the birthplace of many Japanese myths and legends. These events are recreated in the form of yokagura (夜神楽), a traditional Shinto dance. The full traditional yokagura is comprised of 33 dances. Every night at 8pm, Takachiho Shrine (map) hosts an abbreviated version of yokagura which you can see for around 700円.

From November to February, however, each shrine in the village takes turns hosting all-night performances of the full yokagura! The revelry starts around sundown and doesn’t stop until the next morning, but the audience is free to wander in and out and drink shochu to stay warm (lots of layers are recommended).

To give you an inside look at this annual festival, former Takachiho JET Ellen Freeman has graciously allowed us to repost an article she wrote for the Kyushu Article Contest last year. Enjoy! Continue reading

紅葉狩り Momijigari: Autumn Leaf Viewing in Miyazaki

Wow–October is almost over already! But, where are all the autumn leaves? Those of us from more temperate climates may be thrown off by Miyazaki’s long-lasting summerlike weather, but don’t lose heart! There is a bit of fall color in our sub-tropic prefecture, as long as you know when and where to look for it. 😉

Luckily, Japan has this nifty guide to autumn leaf-viewing (because of course they do). With this guide, you can keep updated on all of the best places for fall foliage in Japan! The most ideal locations for momijigari in Miyazaki are up in the mountains to the north and west of the prefecture. The higher altitudes create a cooler climate that’s the perfect environment for changing colors.

Below are some of Miyazaki’s best momijigari spots, as well as some nearby places in other prefectures. Let us know if you have any recommendations of your own! Continue reading