Nishimera village is one of the more remote places to visit in Miyazaki prefecture, close to Kumamoto, and one of the most rewarding to nature lovers with stunning mountain scenery, picturesque bridges over crystal-clear rivers, camping facilities, hiking and fishing spots, and a refreshing indoor and outdoor onsen that also features the requisite souvenir shops selling local and regional specialties. In the case of this corner of Miyazaki prefecture, this means the citrus fruit known as yuzu, and here you will find dried and candied yuzu peel, yuzu salt used for seasoning, and even the seeds, which can be used in facial lotions and the like. There are even opportunities for those interested in working holidays, such as helping to harvest yuzu.
We stopped off for a soak in the hot spring, where for 400 yen, one can let the soothing waters rid the body and mind of stored up stress. From the outside tub you can sit and watch the pine and chestnut trees swaying to and fro on the mountainside opposite in the gentle breeze, an activity which was sleep inducing. Later, we were pleasantly surprised to find the onsen has set aside tatami rooms for resting, and on inspection we saw many people taking naps on the warm spring afternoon.
Later we had lunch in the restaurant on the premises. My choice was deer stew as my preference, locally caught wild boar was out of season. This was accompanied by sato imo croquettes, the tubers also a local product. Numerous fish dishes, both ocean and fresh water, can be found on the menu and perhaps one of the most delicious is the locally caught trout. These can be washed down by shochu, beer and soft drinks, including, of course, yuzu juice. Although I didn’t get a chance to try wild boar, which is available when the weather gets cooler in the fall and winter, on the way back to Miyazaki we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a baby boar scurrying into the woods just along the roadside.
Comprising several hamlets, the main one having a population of about less than 1000 as of 2005 (just over 1000 for the entire village) and a single traffic light, Nishimera village is not easy to reach without a car, and even then the roads leading to this delightful spot are narrow and not always well marked, even if the person doing the driving is a Miyazaki native. Consequently, you will want to take advantage of the resources of the Miyazaki City tourist office or, if one of you has enough Japanese ability, contact the local chamber of commerce as follows: Tel: 0983-36-1056; Fax 0983-41-4030; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, the chamber website is, as of this writing, very slow to access, but it also has a wealth of information, albeit only in Japanese. Another website with tourist information in Japanese is run by the town itself. Tel: 0983-36-1111; Fax 0983-36-1027; Email: email@example.com
Nishimera village may not be the easiest place to get to, but once you arrive you will not want to leave!