Miyazaki, in the southeast of Kyushu, is a lush, fertile place that gets one of the highest amounts of rainfall per year in Japan. If you’re a person who loves the coast like me, the rainfall can sometimes be frustrating. However, the benefit of the rain is that it keeps the many magnificent forests, mountains and valleys beautifully green.
One such place which never stops giving delight to its visitors is Kaeda Valley (加江田渓谷) located about 30 minutes’ drive south of Miyazaki City. It is a forested area that has dozens of courses you can walk, from the easy to the more challenging. Moreover, if you want to spend an hour or all day exploring its offerings, the choice is yours.
You can park in the free car park at the entrance to the valley (see map pin) and begin your journey on foot from there. There is a big map of the different courses you can take at the carpark, or if you’d like to carry a map with you, you can pick one up for free in the little hut on the left just as you enter the carpark.
Having left the car behind for your enjoyable walk, you can relax before you even arrive at the valley itself, as there are barbecue areas and swimming pools on the left-hand side about 500 meters in. Many families and children congregate here, especially during the summer months, as they provide shelter from the sun and facilities for cooking. Moreover, the natural, freshwater pool there is user friendly for swimmers of all ages and levels.
The main walk through the valley follows a single path along the river. It is almost entirely flat so it can be enjoyed by anyone. The beauty of the main course is that you get a perfect view of the various rock formations along the river, including the incredible cobalt blue water that awaits you about 1.5 km in. Along this main path you will see many hikers of all ages, all of whom will greet you with a hearty ‘konnichiwa’.
From start to finish, the main course will take the best part of 4-5 hours, there and back. If you stop along the way for pictures, a rest, a chat or just to take in the beauty around you, it may take much longer! From the main course, you can see waterfalls of varying sizes, many different types of birds, and if you’re lucky, monkeys traversing the rocks.
There are many little paths off the main course that you can explore, some of which take you down to the river, or others which take you high up into the mountains. If you take the latter choice, it’s best to go with someone who knows the course and has been there before. Whichever course you take, and however far you walk, Kaeda Valley is a trip that anyone can enjoy, at any time of the year.