Just south of Miyazaki City, Aoshima is a small island connected to the mainland by a short bridge. The island is covered in subtropical jungle, at the centre of which lies Aoshima Jinja, a shrine believed to bring good luck to couples. Most interesting, however, are the rocks that surround the island. Known as Oni no Sentakuita, or the Ogre's Washboard, these straight lines of basalt look as if they must be manmade, but are totally natural. At just 1.5km in circumference, you can easily walk around the island and admire this unusual phenomenon.
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I spent three years living in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Programme, not knowing what to expect but with images of Tokyo, geisha and Mount Fuji in my mind. I was placed in Yamagata prefecture in a small rural town that I couldn't find in any guidebook. I learnt to snowboard, climbed mountains, tried my hand at ikebana and kyuudo and koto, dressed up as a samurai, karaoked til the early hours, become obsessed with onsen, and had countless other adventures and experiences. For a relatively small country, Japan has so much to offer, and I love nothing better than exploring - particularly heading off the beaten track and into the beautiful countryside. I set myself a personal challenge to visit each of the 47 prefectures, which gave me a great excuse to do a lot of travelling. Although I've now ticked them all off, there's still so much I want to see. Japan will always be my second home and and I'm looking forward to discovering and learning more for a long time to come.