Spotlight: Udo Jingu (Miyazaki)

Miyazaki prefecture (on the island of Kyushu) is known for its long coastline, so it’s no surprise that the Udo Shrine sits squarely in the middle of that coastline, facing out to the waves. On a drive of the Kyushu coast, this makes for an excellent stop.

The Udo Shrine (or Udo Jingu) is a Shinto shrine that is dedicated to Yamasachihiko, the father of the mythical Emperor Jimmu who is considered the first Japanese emperor to “sit” on the Chrysanthemum throne. The shrine itself sits in a cave at the edge of the cliffs, reachable via a short concrete walkway from the northern parking area. Breast-shaped rocks in the cave allegedly nourished the young Jimmu and it’s said that women who drink water dripping from the rocks in the cave will have luck with infertility and childbearing.

Part of the main shrine inside the cave
Part of the main shrine inside the cave


Outside the cave, anyone can try their hand at finding fortune by throwing  clay disks (undama) into a rope circle on the rocks below. Women must throw with their right hand, and men with their left.

My toss into the ring was actually successful!
My toss into the ring was actually successful!

The terrace around the shrine is enclosed by brightly painted vermilion fences and there are a few additional outbuildings to explore as well. Most visitors come for the view, however, and you’ll find the bulk of the crowds gathered outside along the water’s edge, gazing out into the seemingly limitless Pacific.

The terrace of Udo Shrine
The terrace of Udo Shrine

Buses from both Nichinan and Miyazaki stop frequently at Udo Jingu and there are also ample parking areas. Be aware, though, that if you use the southern parking area (the one you see first when arriving from the Nichinan direction), you’ll have to hike up several flights of stairs and through a tunnel to reach the shrine (a ten minute walk). The walk is a good excuse to treat yourself to one of the local citrus juices, freshly squeezed and refreshingly cool!

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