Things to do in Miyoshi
Posted by Heliocentrism on December 12, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
What do you want to do this weekend?
Mark and I now live in a small town. Sure Hiroshima, a big city, is not that far away. But who wants to drive for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on traffic, only to spend another 30 minutes hunting for a parking space, then spend about $30 on that parking space. Hiroshima is nice and all, but unless you know you can get free and easy to find parking where you’re going, I say take the train!
So Mark and I have really been putting a lot of effort to find things to do not too far from home. It’s tough because hardly anyone puts their stuff on any of the tourism websites. Then when they do, all the information is completely in Japanese or completely in English. This makes finding things really hard. I need the information to be in English so I can understand it. But I also need the corresponding information in Japanese, because all the signs are written in Japanese.
But, this is what Mark and I found in our new town so far.
The Jimmy Carter Civic Center
It’s pretty much a homage to Jimmy Carter. You can learn all about Carter’s hometown, his teenage years, what Carter did after his presidency. The man has done a lot. But, they don’t have too many visitors here. When Mark and I showed up we kind of startled the people who worked there.
There is a library upstair where kids go to get help with homework, study, or watch anime.
We heard about this spot from one of those picture tourist maps around town. The map highly recommended this place, claiming this was one of the best spots in Miyoshi. Sadly, the map is right, this is one of the best spots. Though, it is just a rest stop for drivers.
They do have festivals and activities here. Every time Mark and I go they seem to be cleaning up from something that happened the day before. We did manage to catch a motorcycle festival. There were more motorcycles in the parking lot than were on display. Mark and I viewed the bikes on display then walk through the parking lot where the owners, who also expected to see more bikes, were more than happy to show off their wheels.
Along with a small farmer’s market type shop, there is a 1,000 yen ($10) all you can eat buffet here. You get 1 hour to eat and drink as much as you can. It’s very popular with the old folks. They will always maneuver themselves between you and the coffee machine in your last few minutes at the buffet, so don’t count on getting that last glass of iced mocha.
The food is great. It’s mostly vegetables, but there is plenty of meat. There is not as much a variety of meat dishes as there is of vegetable dishes. Plus there is a salad table, many soups, and 3 types of rice. The dishes change with the season, but you can count of there always being lots of old people there.
We visited the Miyoshi winery. There you can sample as much wine as you want. There were eight barrels of various wines to try and one barrel of grape juice. Normally, I would have been the designated driver since I don’t like alcohol. But, I’ve been sick lately and I cannot drive. Since Mark had to drive, I had to be the wine taster. I took one of the tiny plastic cups and drank as little wine as I could. I did find a very sweet wine that I liked. We bought a bottle that is still sitting in our kitchen waiting for an occasion to be opened.
The Shark Place
Mark found this place. He passes it on his way to work. His coworkers told him about this restaurant that advertises alligator meat, but actually sells shark meat. There is something with the local dialect that the word for alligator here also means shark, but this is not true for all of Japan. (Or something like that.) The menu is all shark versions of food; shark burgers, shark hot dogs, shark steamed rolls, shark soups, shark stir fries…
The owner and the restaurant were featured on one of the many eating shows in Japan. While you enjoy your shark meal you can watch the show, over and over and over and over again.
The Sea of Fog
When I heard about this attraction, which is also the town’s claim to fame, I was not impress. “Your biggest attraction is overly moist air?” But Mark and I woke up early one Saturday anyway and drove up a nearby mountain. There was an outlook which took you even higher, so you can look down at the city. And the photo above is of the view I had.
It was really nice!
We visited a museum inside a big park. It was a nice park and a decent small museum. There isn’t a whole lot going on there. But, this particular day they had an incense exhibit that one could pay extra to see.
We felt that 700 yen was too much to pay for a museum that was mainly in Japanese, so we chose not to see the incense exhibit. We only paid the regular 200 yen entrance fee.
After looking around the museum I was very thirsty. We had walked through the park, before going into the museum. I was really looking for a vending machine when we found a waiting area set up for some type of ceremony.
Mark found a book with an anime story about some kids and incense and he sat down to read. I’m not one to pass up a good sit in a comfy chair with a beautiful view, so I sat down too. Whatever was going to happen, was not happening right now, so there was no harm in sitting for a few minutes.
After five minutes or so we got up to leave. As we were walking towards the exit a man approached us. “I’m sorry, but would you like to join us for an incense ceremony?” I thought he was asking if we wanted to watch. We said that we would love to join and took seats on some of the chairs circling the tatami mats.
After a few minutes we were ask to join the rest of the people on the mats. I started to protest explaining that I had no idea how to do whatever they were doing and that I could not even sit on my heals like they did. “Oh no,” the man assured me, “You can sit freestyle. And no one here has done this before. We will explain to you.”
We were given 4 cups with burning incense one at a time. We had to remember the first one, so we could compare it with the other three. Then we had to say which of the other three, if any, had the same smell as the first cup of incense.
Everyone moved with purposeful grace. No one was making any spontaneous movements. I tried to mimic the others as best as I could as I took each cup, sniffed at it, and passed it to the left. The man reassured me once again that I was okay doing things freestyle.
The lady sitting next to me offered to help explain things. She spoke some English and she also told me that I didn’t have to move like everyone else. She seemed to find my awkward movements cute. That is, until I held the incense cup.
“No, no, no! Hold the cup like this.” She mimed holding the cup. I tried to do what I thought she wanted me to, but clearly I was not doing it right. She reached over and moved the cup from my right hand to my left. I tried the hold again, but did not get it. The lady took my right hand and placed it over the cup and squeezed it down to make a small hole over the top to let a small amount of smoke out. But she squeezed too hard causing the palm of my hand to touch the burning ember of incense inside the cup.
I let out a little yelp and dropped the cup. I did manage to catch it before it fell to the mat, but the ember had gone out. The man rushed over and bowed, apologised, and did some ceremonial gestures to take the cup from me. He took it and relit the incense and handed it back to me. Now I felt like I had way too much responsibility.
When we were done we had to write down our guesses on a little folded strip of paper. First we had to take a piece of coal and rub it on a plate with some oil on it. This made gray ink that we could dip our little brushes in. I unfolded my paper and asked the lady next to me for help. I told her what I thought the answer was and she pointed to the kanji I needed to write on the paper. I copied it, folded the paper, and waited for someone to come take paper from me.
I got all the guesses wrong; all of them. To be completely honest I thought they all smelled different and only pick one at random to be the one that matched the first incense. Mark on the other hand got them all right. That guy really knows his incense.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank toaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)
Miyoshi City (Hiroshima Prefecture)
How to get there:
- Coordinates 34°48’11.2″N 132°51’21.9″E
Miyoshi city, Hiroshima prefecture 728-8501
- Miyoshi City
- Miyoshi City English website
- July 26th festival Official Website (Miyoshi Kinsai Festival)
- All Festivals
- This town is one of the few towns in Japan that has more than enough free parking everywhere.
- This is a small town. I know it calls itself a city, but it’s not. Nothing opens before 9:00 and everything is closed by 21:00. The exception being convenience stores which are always open.
- There are many Miyoshi cities in Japan. This one is in Hiroshima prefecture.
This town is mostly known for its wine (and lack of Starbucks).
- Coordinates 34°48’35.2″N 132°51’13.6″E
- (0824) 63-9268
- 2014 Schedule pdf
- Adult 2,500 JPY
- Kids 1,250 JPY
- Adult 2,800 JPY
- Kids 1,400 JPY
- June 1st – August 31st each year
- The event lasts one hour
- Launch is at 19:45
- Please arrive by 19:15
- Mark and I did not try this. We only watched from the shore. We are still contemplating whether or not we really want to eat fish from a bird’s throat.
- You eat the fish that the birds catch.
- This is just one of 13 places in Japan where you can see ukai.
The Jimmy Carter Civic Center
- Coordinates 34°42’01.8″N 133°05’21.3″E
940 Oaza Hongo Kounu-cho Miyoshi-shi Hiroshima 729-4101
- Tue – Sat 9:00 – 18:00
- Dec 29 – Jan 3
Fun Factor: 2 out of 10
- It’s free.
- It has air conditioning.
- It’s near a campsite.
- It’s nowhere near downtown.
- There is a campsite nearby.
- Almost everything in the area is named after Jimmy Carter, from the Jimmy Carter Baseball field to the Jimmy Carter Street.
- It feels like a shrine to Jimmy Carter.
- Coordinates 34°51’20.8″N 132°47’49.5″E
- April to September
9:00am to 7:30pm
- October to March
10:00am to 6:30pm
Fun Factor: 5 out of 10
- It’s not too far from downtown. It’s about a 30 minute drive.
- There are sometimes festivals and celebrations here.
- There is plenty of free parking.
- It is bsically just a really nice rest stop.
- There is a restaurant with a ￥1,000 all you can eat buffet. They specialize in locally grown fresh vegetables.
- 11:00 ~ 14:30
- You get 1 hour to eat and drink all you can.
- There is a farmer’s market type shop where you can buy inexpensive locally grown vegetables and fruit.
- This place is also famous for its ice cream. Along with the regular flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and green tea, you can get unusual flavors like asparagus, tomato, and carrot.
Hiroshima Miyoshi Winery
- Coordinates 34°46’40.2″N 132°51’59.8″E
Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture 728-0023, Japan
- Free to enter and sample wine
- Wine cost from about ￥1,000 a bottle to very expensive wine.
- 9:30 ~ 18:00
Fun Factor: 3 out of 10
- If you like free wine, this is great. (There was an old guy who was just drinking as much wine as he could before staggering out the door.)
- If you’re like me and only like certain wines, this is good too, because there are 8 wines to be sampled before you purchase.
- It really is just a wine shop.
- They don’t sell cheese!
- Japan has a zero tolerance for drinking and driving. Bring a designated driver or take the bus.
- There was one barrel of grape juice for kids and designated drivers to sample.
- There is a “factory tour” that you can take. It takes a whole 2 minutes and you really see nothing.
- Coordinates 34°46’29.4″N 132°53’21.9″E
Japan 〒729-6213 広島県三次市
- +81 824-66-1082
- 8:30 ~ 20:00
Fun Factor: 7 out of 10 if you like eating weird things, 3 out of 10 if you don’t
- It’s not expensive.
- The food is good.
- There is only shark on the menu. So if you’re not down for eating shark, this is not the place for you.
- They also serve shark desserts like shark pudding.
Sea of Fog
(Kiri no umi)
- Coordinates 34°47’47.9″N 132°49’23.9″E
〒728-0025 Awayamachi, Miyoshi-shi, Hiroshima
- Free Parking
- Spring or Fall
- Between sunrise and 9:00
Fun Factor: 7 out of 10
- It’s a great view.
- Doesn’t take too long.
- Looks great in person, but fantastic in photos.
- It can get a little chilly. (I’m a weather wimp.)
- You can bring your breakfast or snacks with you so you can eat while you enjoy the scenery.
Miyoshi Fudoki Park and History Folklore Museum
(Miyoshi Fudoki no Oka Park)
- Coordinates 34°45’48.5″N 132°53’50.0″E
- The park is free
- parking is free
- The museum
- adults 200 yen
- students 150 yen
- special exhibits have additional fees
- 9:00 ~ 17:00
- The Museum is closed on Mondays, but the park is still open
Fun Factor: 5 out of 10
- It’s not too expensive
- you can dress up. But they only have two sets of clothes; one for a man and one for a woman.
- The park is very big.
- It’s a museum. So if you don’t like museums, just stick to the park.
- There are no vending machines anywhere near this place, so get some water before coming here.