Kumano Beach is located on Route 75 south between Nakatane and Minamitane. With smallish waves and calm waters, it is an ideal place for swimming, camping, canoeing, and snorkeling.
A long stretch of fine sand from roadside to cliffside, Kumano also boasts some of Tanegashima's prettiest miniature sandstone formations along its shoreline. At low tide, it is possible to walk out to some of these rocks. Aside from providing appreciable scenery, they are a prime spot for collecting shellfish. (Just mind the insects on the seaside rock in the warm weather.)
Wild camping is possible at most of the beaches on Tanegashima, but Kumano is one of the few official campsites. Tents, toilets, showers, and other rentable commodities, as well as a kitchen, are all available during the tourist season. There is also a hot spring within close walking distance.
Blanket Rental: ¥100｜Tent Rental: ¥800 to ¥1000 ｜Grill Rental: ¥400
Camping: ¥210/Tent ｜Shower: ¥20 ｜CALL: 099-727-8785 or 099-727-1111
Follow the west coast north for 20 minutes on Route 581 out of Nishinoomote City. There will be several road signs pointing out a left turn toward Urata Beach. Follow this smaller road as it forks right twice, and pull into the large grassy parking lot.
At the entrance to the small beach is a small shrine gate and a number of palm trees. A large recreation building equipped with showers, toilets, and an observation deck stands in the center of the grassy field. The area is frequented by families and children on school trips, and during the summer months there is a small concession stand, as well as umbrella and tube rental.
This quiet inlet is characterized by its clean white sand and clear blue sea. Though the surrounding forest scenery is somewhat less impressive than that of the island's other beaches, Urata's bright colors and friendly atmosphere have ranked it one of the Best 88 Beaches in Japan.
The cove is one of the best spots on the island for swimming and scuba diving. Fishing and camping are also popular.
Camping: ¥1,000/Tent ｜Tent Rental: ¥1,200 - ¥1,800 ｜Shower: ¥100 ｜ Grill Rental
Open: April 27 - September 17 ｜9 AM - 6 PM ｜ CALL: 099-728-1187 or 099-722-1111
"Homan Shrine enshrines Princess Tamayori or Tamayori-hime, wife of God Ugayafukiaezu and mother of the first Emperor Jinmu. It is surrounded by forest and situated on the edge of a beautiful pond where many birds fly.
The written history of Homan Shrine boasts this legend: Once upon a time the villagers were suffering from heavy drought, so they set out to dig trenches for irrigation throughout the valley. As they continued to dig by the pond they found that a large boulder blocked their way. When they broke it, red, blood-like water spurted forth. Suddenly, a massive rush of wind blew from the rock, and a monsterous snake as thick as a tree slithered into the sky. The people were very fearful, and asked Nikkei, a Buddhist monk at Onmyoji Temple in Kukinaga Village, to pray to the goddess for forgiveness. After 17 days of prayer she seemed to forgive them. It began to rain heavily, irrigating their rice paddies. When the rain stopped, a beautiful lady appeared atop a dragon-headed boat in the pond. The monk had no doubt that she was Tamayori-hime, and prayed nine times in her honor. Since then Tamayori-hime has been worshipped as the Homan Daibosatsu, Great Bodhisattva of Homan. They carved her likeness into a wooden statue and enshrined it at Onmyoji Temple.
People believe that the goddess of Homan Shrine always blessed worshippers with rich crops, a peaceful village, and their descendants' prosperity. Many worshippers still come to the shrine to pray. It is believed that whoever offers red rice to the goddess will be blessed with a child, renounce the 108 worldly desires, escape ill luck, and receive good fortune."
This is the legend of Homan Shrine, which is situated across the road from the Akagome Red Rice Museum, on the left-hand side of Route 75 heading south into Minamitane.
Climb the curving mossy steps at left to visit a small shrine in a quiet woodsy clearing, or the tree-covered path through the large gate at right.
Lined by red lampposts, this path eventually leads to another gate, and eventually Homan Shrine itself. Aside from the legend of Princess Tamayori, the shrine is historically linked with Tanegashima's red rice (akagome) and traditional Red Rice Ceremony.
Just beyond the shrine is Homan Pond. The short hiking trail that curves left of the pond brings you to a pretty observation point and a pair of benches.
Keep driving south on Route 75 and follow the signs at left to find the official Homan Pond Lookout.
A little over 5km south of Nagahama Beach (and 10km south of where it meets Route 58 in Nakatane) is Yakutsu Beach in Minamitane Town. Follow Route 588 south until you find it on your right-hand side.
It is easy to spot by the line of parked cars belonging to enthusiastic beach-goers.
Yakutsu is a fun sandy beach, fine for swimming and a favorite of local surfers.
The sunsets over the long stretch of sand are as spectacular as any on the island.
The Akagome Red Rice Museum is a small building located on the right side of Route 75 south. It is dedicated to preserving the culture of Tanegashima's traditional red rice, which closely resembles Javanica, or the dry-land rice grown in the mountains of southeast Asia. This resemblance suggests that the akagome came to Tanegashima from the Philippines by way of Okinawa and the other Ryukyu Islands.
In ancient times, farmers would till the land with the stamping of horses' hooves, a tradition unique in Japan to the islands in the south of Kagoshima.
Tanegashima's Red Rice Ceremony is traditionally held at the nearby Homan Shrine. In the past, similar ceremonies were also held at Madokoro-Hachiman and Urata Shrines. A Red Rice Planting Ceremony is also held every year on April 3rd in the fields behind the Red Rice Museum. It begins around 9 AM and lasts for over an hour, drawing a large crowd of locals and press. Unfortunately, only local men and boys are allowed to participate. The ceremony is followed by a number of traditional dances in full costume.
"Long ago in a house high above the ocean cliffs there lived a hardworking couple named Tatsugoro and Tatsue. One night during a violent storm the cliffside collapsed, and their home was washed out into the sea. Both of their lives were lost.
Not a few months later, two massive rocks suddenly appeared side-by-side in the same place the couple had fallen. It is said that the local people saw these rocks as reincarnations of the married couple, and so named them 'Otatsu' (male dragon) and 'Metatsu' (female dragon).
The rocks are loved by the community even to this day."
The Otatsu Metatsu are two large basalt rocks that stand at the edge of the sea on Tanegashima's west coast. Driving south along Route 58, your first sight will be of a gift shop/restaurant and parking lot on your right.
From there a long walkway leads down to the rocks and shoreline.
They are known as 'married' rocks and are linked by a twisted straw rope (shimenawa) as is commonly seen in Shinto. On the left side is Metatsu (or the 'female dragon') and on the right Otatsu (or the 'male dragon'). The latter is also adorned by a red torii gate.
The rocks are largely considered to be one of the best spots to watch the sunset on Tanegashima.
Feel free to clamber about the oceanside for a closer view (but beware of insects in the warm weather).