Glorious natural surroundings designated as a protected area by UNESCO
Surrounding by rich forestland, Aya is located almost in the center of Miyazaki prefecture. The town’s unique approach to creating a sustainable local community in harmony with the natural environment led to the area being registered as a UNESCO Eco Park in 2012.
Aya is sandwiched between two rivers, which are the source of the town’s renowned waters, flowing down from the spring waters of the lush forests. Large quantities of water are brought up from the rivers by waterwheels, before flowing out into the fields and every corner of the town, enriching the lives of all those who live there.
Added appeal of sampling fresh organic produce in the town where it was grown
Aya belongs to an association of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.” In recent years, a steady stream of people have moved to the area from all over Japan, in search of a richer natural environment, and a more humane way of life alongside nature.
It is also known as an “organic town,” home to a thriving organic farming industry that makes the most of Aya’s natural bounty. The town has continued to promote organic farming as an alternative to its previously successful forestry industry, in an effort to establish Aya as a sustainable town where people live in harmony with their surroundings.
Beautiful natural surroundings thanks to a spectacular laurel forest
Another of Aya’s claims to fame is that it is home to one of the largest laurel forests in Japan. Designated as a “Kyushu Central Mountains Quasi National Park,” the forest has also been included in top-hundred lists ranking it amongst Japan’s “best water sources,” “best natural waters” and “best forests for bathing.” Covering a total area of 3,300 acres (1,335 hectares), the forest is home to rare species such as the mountain hawk eagle and golden eagle, as well as a diverse range of wildlife including the Japanese serow.
The best way to enjoy the laurel forest is hiking! Enjoy a family day out walking through the laurel trees, across the Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge and along paths around the forest.
The forest has also inspired cultural activities in Aya, with traditional handicraft items to be found throughout the town. Aya International Craft Castle in particular has hand-made items on display and for sale, and also hosts classes for people to experience crafts such as weaving and ceramics.
Weaving experience class: 30 minutes, ¥1,100
Ceramics experience class: 30 minutes, ¥1,700
Classes are in Japanese. Advance booking not required.
Come and discover the charm of Aya, an irresistible town where people live in harmony with the beauty of nature
After getting the train to JR Minami-Miyazaki Station, it takes approximately one hour by bus to get to Aya from Miyakoh City Bus Terminal. There are also buses from Miyazaki Airport (approximately 12 minutes), changing at Miyakoh City Bus Terminal (approximately 60 minutes).