Suzume no Tojimari - Suzume’s Locking Up Nichinan

I recently had the opportunity to visit Nichinan in Miyazaki prefecture, a city that has recently gained worldwide recognition thanks to the 2022 Makoto Shinkai movie, “Suzume no Tojimari” (lit. “Suzume’s Locking Up”).

As a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai’s work, I was excited to visit the city that served as the inspiration for the movie. While the place where Suzume lives does not exactly exist as pictured, I was not disappointed. Nichinan is a truly beautiful and serene destination that offers a wide range of attractions and activities for people of all ages.

One of the highlights of my visit to Nichinan was Sun Messe Nichinan, a park symbolized by seven moai statues that have been restored with permission from Easter Island. The sight of the moai statues on green grass, lined up against a background of the blue sky and the majestic Pacific Ocean, is truly stunning.

In addition to Sun Messe Nichinan, there are many other attractions in Nichinan that are worth visiting. The city’s beaches are a popular destination for swimmers and surfers, and there are several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

After Sun Messe I also went to Obi Castle during my trip to Nichinan. Obi Castle is a beautiful and historic castle town that was once the home of the powerful Itou Family.

The castle’s moss-covered stone walls, broad stone steps in front of the Ote-mon main gate, moat ruins, and old samurai residences all transport visitors back in time, and give a glimpse into the castle town’s rich history. The Matsuo-no-Maru residence and Ote-mon gate have been reconstructed using Obi’s famously beautiful cedar wood, and the castle and its surrounding territory have been designated as one of Japan’s Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings. I and my friends took a forest bath (shinrin-yoku) in the forest next to the castle ruins.

I highly recommend visiting the Obi Castle Historical Museum while in Obi Castle Town. The museum exhibits valuable artifacts that tell the Itou Family’s history, as well as the history of the buildings that make up the Obi Castle estate. The museum also features a replica of the Ote-mon Gate, which was rebuilt in 1978.

The Edo period atmosphere of the merchant town’s main street is truly a sight to behold. Old merchant shops decorate their storefronts with cask barrels and latticed windows covered in traditional garden lanterns, and the streets are lined with traditional Japanese parasols. The crystal-clear waterways that wind through the town add to its charm and make it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Nichinan.

I was also lucky enough to visit Udo Jingu Shrine, a famous shinto shrine in Miyazaki prefecture. This striking shrine is located on the tip of Point Udozaki, and features a vivid crimson pavilion inside a cave, surrounded by the beauty of the ocean. Visitors can throw “Undama” clay balls to make a wish, and legend says that if the ball lands inside the concave referred to as the “Masugata” on the Kameishi rock, your wish will come true.

Overall, I had an incredible time in Nichinan. The city’s natural beauty, combined with its rich cultural heritage, make it a must-visit destination for anyone who loves Japanese culture and history. I highly recommend visiting Nichinan if you have the chance, and be sure to check out Sun Messe Nichinan and Udo Jingu Shrine if you’re in the area.

Article of UMK on Suzume in the real Nichinan