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What to Eat in Miyazaki: "Japan's Sunny Place"
By Ashley Owen
August 24, 2020
Updated: October 12, 2020

Miyazaki lies along the southeastern coast of Kyushu, and is a region of rugged mountains, ancient mythology, warm weather, and stunning shoreline that's perfect for surfing. The prefecture also boasts a rich cuisine full of locally-sourced ingredients, so there are plenty of options for what to eat in Miyazaki.

From popular chicken dishes and the freshest fruit, to unique takes on classics such as udon noodles and daifuku rice cakes, dive into Miyazaki’s mouthwatering food culture with our top recommendations!

What to Eat in Miyazaki

Here are some local specialties to eat in Miyazaki, the prefecture known as Nihon no Hinata, "Japan's Sunny Place"!

  1. Chicken Nanban
  2. Hiyajiru
  3. Kamaage Udon
  4. Miyazaki Beef
  5. Mango
  6. Charcoal Grilled Chicken
  7. Nanjakora Daifuku
  8. Hyuganatsu
  9. Shochu

1. Chicken Nanban

Close up shot of fried chicken nanban coated in tartar sauce

This perennially popular dish originated in this prefecture, and is now both a staple of Miyazaki cuisine and a must-try for visitors to the area. Similar to Japan’s famous karaage fried chicken, to make chicken nanban, battered chicken is marinated in sweet vinegar and deep-fried to create the ultimate crispy, juicy comfort food. This is then topped with a creamy and tangy tartar sauce for extra moisture and flavor. It can be enjoyed as a snack on its own, or served as a set with rice and miso soup for a more filling meal.

2. Hiyajiru

Close up image of hiyajiru, with tofu and cucumber

Another local specialty, hiyajiru is a cold miso soup that’s perfect for Japan’s warm summer months. Originally consumed by farmers and monks, these days it can be found in restaurants and convenience stores across the prefecture. The dish consists of a rich miso broth loaded with vegetables such as cucumber and green shiso leaves. Tofu or fish may be included for extra protein, as well as sesame seeds for a more full-bodied flavor. The soup mix is served over rice to create a highly nutritious and easy-to-make meal that’s both refreshing and delicious!

3. Kamaage Udon

Kamaage Udon, MIyazaki prefecture specialty dish served in hot water

Udon noodles are of course enjoyed in all prefectures of Japan, with each region giving its own unique twist to the dish. Here in Miyazaki, the thick noodles are served extra soft for a wonderfully chewy texture. Kamaage udon is a distinct variety of udon where the noodles are served in the hot cooking liquid, accompanied by a separate dipping sauce and a variety of seasonings. The sauce is made using ingredients such as kelp, bonito flakes, and soy sauce, plus a selection of spices, with each restaurant having their own special recipe for you to try!

4. Miyazaki Beef

Close up image of a steak of wagyu

Miyazaki beef is one food that this prefecture is particularly prized for. It has won multiple awards and consistently ranks among the best wagyu in the country – and therefore the world. The snowflake-like marbled appearance and melt-in-your-mouth texture are second to none, and tasting it is a must for meat-lovers visiting Miyazaki. Try some at a teppanyaki restaurant to watch the chefs prepare the meat right in front of you on an iron griddle for a truly authentic experience!

5. Mango

Mango with bright red skin next to a plate of sliced mango peels

Miyazaki’s warm climate makes it ideal for growing fruit, and one of the tropical treats the prefecture is most famous for are mangos – even though they've only been cultivated here since the 1980s. Known as "Eggs of the Sun," Miyazaki mangos are renowned for the rich red color of their skin and extra sweet flesh. In fact, the premium varieties must meet a minimum sugar content of 15% to ensure their deliciousness! Not only can you enjoy these fruits fresh, they are also used to flavor all kind of sweets. This includes parfaits, shaved ice and ice cream.

6. Charcoal Grilled Chicken

Miyazaki Grilled Chicken a.k.a. "jidori no sumibiyaki" served on an iron plate

Aside from chicken nanban, Miyazaki’s other famous chicken dish is charcoal grilled chicken, or jidori no sumibiyaki in Japanese. Meat from high quality, locally-raised chickens are cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper before being grilled at a high heat over a charcoal fire. This gives the meat a mouthwatering smoky flavor and aroma, plus a distinctive black charcoaled exterior. Each mouthful is juicy and chewy, with the dish best enjoyed at an izakaya with a beer or glass of shochu!

7. Nanjakora Daifuku

Three daifuku mochi (Japanese rice cakes) lined up

Daifuku is a type of mochi (sticky rice cake) stuffed with a sweetened red bean paste known as anko. These soft, chewy delights are a common snack throughout Japan, with more varieties available than you can count (check out our Beginner's Guide to Mochi for a rundown of the 16 most common types). Miyazaki’s take on this sweet treat is known as nanjakora daifuku.

In addition to anko, they are filled with cream cheese, a chestnut, and a juicy chunk of strawberry to create a really extravagant confectionary that’s larger than normal and bursting with different flavors. Perfect as an on-the-go snack or paired with the bitterness of green tea, this is a unique specialty you won't want to miss on your Miyazaki travels!

8. Hyuganatsu

Hyuganatsu citrus fruit grown in Miyazaki, one whole fruit next to a plate of citrus segments

When it comes to what to eat in Miyazaki, fruit should definitely be at the top of your list. One of the more unusual varieties grown here is hyuganatsu. This fresh and tangy citrus fruit is bright yellow in color, similar to lemon or yuzu, and takes its name from the old name for Miyazaki, which is Hyuga.

It has a distinctive taste that’s both sweet and sour, and is often used to flavor drinks, dressings, ice cream, and candy. It can also be cut up and eaten fresh, or sprinkled with sugar for extra sweetness. Be sure to try this unique taste of Miyazaki!

9. Shochu

Glass of shochu on ice on a placemat decorated with sakura

If you’re looking for something to wash down all this Miyazaki food with, shochu is the perfect choice. Although not as well-known abroad as sake, this clear liquor is arguably more popular in Japan. It can be made from a variety of ingredients – which in Miyazaki include sweet potato, barley, and buckwheat – and dates back over 500 years. The drink is very versatile, and can be enjoyed neat, over ice, mixed with cold or hot water, or used as the base for a cocktail. It's also relatively low-calorie, meaning you can enjoy even more of Miyazaki’s delicious cuisine!

So whether you're here to tour the epic cliffside Udo Jingu Shrine or the breathtaking Takachiho Gorge, hopefully this list has given you a better idea of what to eat in Miyazaki. This prefecture may be somewhat off the beaten tourist track, but your visit will be even more rewarding as a result. Happy exploring!

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Ashley Owen
Ashley is a freelance travel writer from the UK who spent the last two years living in Japan, and is about to embark on her next adventure to New Zealand. She's always on the lookout for exciting new vegan treats wherever she goes!
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