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Exploring Natural Parks in Autumn

Natural Parks (自然公園) are some of the best places to see Japan’s natural scenic beauty. The National and Quasi-National Parks are selected by the Minister of the Environment to preserve superior natural environments and encourage people to use them properly and comfortably. The Prefectural Natural Parks, on the other hand, are selected by the governor of each prefecture. Currently, there are eleven natural parks in Miyazaki and it accounts for 12% of the whole prefectural land.

Kirishima-Kinkouwan National Park (霧島錦江湾国立公園) is the first designated national park in Japan. It consists of the Kirishima region with over twenty volcanic mountains sprinkled around Kyushu, from Kagoshima’s Sakurajima in the south (桜島) to Miyazak’s Ebino region eighty kilometers north.

There are four Quasi-National Parks located in Miyazaki prefecture. Sobo-Katamuki Quasi-National Park (祖母傾国定公園) is a vast mountain area on the northeast side of the Kyushu Mountain Range. The water that comes down from the mountains has created some of Japan’s most beautiful waterfalls, like the ones found in Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡), Shishigawa Valley (鹿川渓谷), and Hourigawa Valley (祝子川渓谷).

Nippo-Kaigan Quasi-National Park(日豊海岸国定公園) stretches along the northern coast of Miyazaki. At Umagese Viewpoint (馬が背展望所) in Hyuga City, you can overlook the natural sculpture of the Ria Coast (deeply indented coastline) from seventy meters above the sea.

On the eastern side of Miyazaki, there is the Kyushu Chuosanchi Quasi-National Park (九州中央山地国定公園). The mountain range is comprised of several thousand-meter-high mountains which rest on the border between Miyazaki and Kumamoto. These mountains are often referred to as “Kyushu’s Roof.” Silent forests and deep mountain valleys are awe-inspiring sights that can only be found in Japan’s national parks.

Nichinan Kaigan Quasi-National Park (日南海岸国定公園) runs 100km along the coast from Hinata Miyazaki Prefectural Comprehensive Sports Park (宮崎総合運動公園) to Cape Toi (都井岬). There are plants, animals, and natural phenomena that can only be found in this region of Japan. For example, the Oni-no-Sentakuita(鬼の洗濯板), or jagged bed of unique shapes of rocks, Koujima(幸島), the island of wild monkeys, and the wild horse habitat of Cape Toi(都井岬), plus many more.

In addition to Kirishima-Kinkouwan National Park and the four Quasi-National Parks, there are six Prefectural Natural Parks: Sobokatamuki Prefectural Natural Park (祖母傾県立自然公園), Osuzu Prefectural Natural Park (尾鈴県立自然公園), Saitobaru-Sugiyasukyo Prefectural Natural Park (西都原杉安峡県立自然公園), Mochio-Sekinoo Prefectural Natural Park (母智丘関之尾県立自然公園),Wanitsuka Prefectural Natural Park (わにつか県立自然公園), Yatake-kogen Prefectural Natural Park (矢岳高原県立自然公園).

Yatake Plateau (矢岳高原) is one of the Prefectural Natural Parks representing Miyazaki’s magnificent nature sights. At the Yatake Plateau Viewpoint, at an altitude of 700m, you can enjoy the wondrous views of Unkai (雲海)(the Sea of Clouds) with the Kirishima mountain range in the background. When the time comes, the sun rises from the cracks of the clouds and the mountains. The sun colors the sky, and the sky gets reflected on the bed of clouds. As the temperature gets higher, Ebino City’s tranquil rural landscapes slowly come into view. Its breathtakingly beautiful views will surely be one of the most unforgettable moments of your Miyazaki trip.

Other than the Yatake Plateau, there are more Unkai view spots in Miyazaki. At Kunimigaoka (国見ヶ丘) in Takachiho-town, heavy fog envelopes the whole area of Takachiho basin and the mountains as it were a world of Sumie (black ink painting). Kanemidake (金御岳) in Miyakonojo City’s panorama views of the veiled Kirishima mountain range floating on the clouds are mystical and fascinating.

Unkai appears on sunny mornings when it is moderately humid and has more than a fifteen-degree temperature gap between night and daytime. Autumn to early spring is the best season to see Unkai.

Miyazaki has become one of Japan’s most popular places to visit in autumn these years.

The worldwide travel reservation platform “Klook” has announced the ranking of Japan’s Top 10 “Want to Go/Do” places and activities in autumn, based on the reservation trends and the numbers of searches on Klook as of September 2023. Takachiho Gorge (高千穂峡) won first place in the category of “Autumn foliage tour places in Japan,” surpassing Arashiyama in Kyoto and Kawaguchi Lake in Yamanashi.

Ebino Plateau (えびの高原) is known as one of the best autumn foliage hiking spots in Kyushu and is located north of Kirishima-Kinkouwan National Park. Karakuni-dake (韓国岳), the highest peak of the Kirishima mountain range, Mt.Takachiho (高千穂峰), and plenty of other volcanic mountains expand their range around this area as well. Volcanic crater lakes can be found in this area, as well as some rare flowers like nokaidō or Miyamakirishima when in season.

You can enjoy various activities throughout the year at Ebino Plateau: Trekking, climbing, camping,ice skating, going into hot springs, and more. Around the end of October, leaves in the mountains start changing colors. Many tourists choose this season to visit the Ebino Plateau to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage.

Ashiyu No Eki Ebino Kogen (足湯の駅 えびの高原)

You can drop by the information center at Ashiyu No Eki Ebino Kogen before starting to trek. For your safety, please check the updated information on the weather and the volcano situation around the area. You can also check EBINO ECO MUSEUM CENTER’s website (mentioned at the bottom of this page) in advance for more information to prepare for the activity. There are various trekking trails in Kirishima-Kinkouwan National Park. Please consider your physical conditions to choose the best fit for yourself.

The volcanic lakes trail is for beginners and takes only two hours. Keep following the signs along the trail.
The calls of wild birds echo throughout the forest.
The sunlight makes the colored leaves glow beautifully.
Take a deep breath at the Ebino-Kogen Plateau Observation Deck.
The giant cider tree by the Rokkannon-Miike Pond is over 500 years old.
Hear the sound of the wind crossing the surface of the lake.
Wild Akamatsu (Pinus densiflora) trees grow around the volcanic lakes.
View from the Two Lakes Panoramic Observatory.
The Rokkannon-Miike Pond is sparkling cobalt blue.
A warm footbath will heal your body after a long hike at the Ashiyu no eki Ebino Kogen.

Enjoy Miyazaki’s grand nature and the beautiful autumn foliage on your next trip.

For more information, please check out the websites below:

Miyazaki Nature Parks