The poet Wakayama Bokusui was born and raised in a beautiful mountain village from which he journeyed far and wide in Japan and Korea writing Tanka poems about the natural wonders he saw on his travels. It is said that his heavy drinking, including (but not necessarily limited to) the earthy sweet potato shochu common to Miyazaki, was responsible for his early death.
Is not a white bird forlorn? It melts neither into the sky blue nor into the sea blue. It flies and floats.
While there are museums honoring the poet here and there around Japan, this is where he was born and grew up, and many of his local fans no doubt believe his early memories live on in his poems. A number of his devotees, therefore, make the trip out here to see his birth home. Others visit to take in the view and breathe the fresh air.
Miyazaki is rich in such natural spots, and the further inland you go, the better you will be rewarded. Bokusui Park (Koen) is one jewel of an example. Bokusui’s house is inside the park, and you can actually catch a glimpse of the rooms from the outside. If you follow the steps behind the house, you will come to a small shrine and a stone slap with one of the writer’s poems. There is also a museum in the park, if you want to learn more about the poet. Across from the house is the rather expansive park with several viewing platforms to take in the scenery. Kids will enjoy the many slides and other contraptions built into the hills. One can take a picnic lunch and enjoy the surroundings, or have a soba lunch at a restaurant right in the park.
Be forewarned, the site is fairly remote despite it being quite famous. Despite the remoteness (or perhaps it is exactly because of it) once there, you will not want to leave. There is swimming nearby, and it is possible to book cottages here, as in many rural tourist spots, although demand can be higher than availability. The tourist division of the Chamber of Commerce can help you with reservations and other inquiries. Please note that the person calling or faxing will need to do so in Japanese: Tel 0982-69-7720; fax 0982-69-7720.
Although technically part of Hyuga-city, as we mentioned, like many tourist spots in the prefecture, the area is relatively remote and not all that accessible by public transportation. By car you will travel along narrow, winding mountain roads somewhat difficult to navigate even for locals without a map. Therefore, you would be well advised to consult with the tourist office before setting out, with one option being to ask them to help you negotiate an all day taxi outing that could include a visit to the birthplace home of Bokusui, the park and one of the local eateries. Buses are another option, but this will involve many changes. In many cases there is only one bus a day to remote areas like this, with no service on Sundays. Still, for Japanese speakers, it can be useful to consult the website of the main bus company, Miyazaki Kotsu. The tourist office can also help you here, but for routes involving many transfers, you may find it easier to book an all-day taxi from Miyazaki city or Hyuga.
For those going by car from Miyazaki city, take Route 10 to Hyuga. Passing a Yamada Denki electric shop on the right, you should turn left onto Route 51 just after crossing a river. From there you continue looking for the signs pointing you to Togo, about 12 kilometers on a road that will take you deeper and deeper into the surrounding hills.
Soon you will be in Togo town where you will find a big rest area with souvenir shops and a small supermarket on your left—this is where we bought some of the picnic snacks shown in the photos from a vendor who had set up his shop right in the parking lot. Turning left at the traffic lights at the service area, and it is about 6 kilometers further to the park. You will soon see a sign telling you that you have arrived at Bokusui Park.
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I first came to Japan in 1979, where I have taught mainly at the secondary and tertiary levels. In early 2012, my wife (a native of Miyazaki) and I decided to move from Tokyo to Miyazaki city with our 3 cats. In addition to my work with Japan Tourist, I teach English to senior citizens and nurses, write and perform folk music ,and volunteer with homeless and disability support groups. I am currently working on a project with organic farmers in the town of Aya to invite kids from Fukushima to participate in summer camps. As if that were not enough, we are planning on opening up an organic cafe/wine bar that will feature products made by local people with disabilities. I hope that I can help many of you discover the warmth of the people in Miyazaki and southern Kyushu.