Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, is a hidden gem in the country’s tourist scene. It’s known for its stunning natural beauty, delicious food, rich culture, and history. In this article, we’ll take you on a fascinating journey across Kyushu and show you 25 of the best things to do on the island. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore Kyushu’s hidden treasures!
Explore Kyushu’s Natural Wonders
Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island, is a treasure trove of natural wonders. From towering volcanoes to ancient forests, the island is a paradise for nature lovers. Here are some must-visit destinations for anyone looking to explore Kyushu’s natural beauty.
Visit Mount Aso, Japan’s Largest Active Volcano
Mount Aso, located in Kumamoto Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. It towers above the surrounding countryside, offering stunning views of the crater and nearby mountain ranges. The volcano is so massive that it has five separate peaks, each with its own crater. Visitors can hike to the summit of Mount Aso, explore the surrounding mountains and valleys, and witness the impressive plumes of smoke that rise from the volcano.
But Mount Aso is not just a geological wonder; it’s also a cultural icon. The volcano has played a significant role in Japanese mythology and folklore for centuries. According to legend, the god of fire and the goddess of water had a child at the summit of Mount Aso, giving birth to the first emperor of Japan.
Relax in Beppu’s Hot Springs
Beppu, located in Oita Prefecture, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kyushu, known for its hot springs or ‘onsen.’ The city has over 2,000 hot springs, making it one of the most geothermally active regions in the world. Visitors can soak in the thermal waters of the Jigoku Meguri (‘Hell Tour’), a series of nine unique hot springs with different temperatures and healing properties.
But Beppu’s hot springs are not just a place to relax; they also have a long history of healing. The city’s hot springs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and many of the hot springs have different healing properties. For example, the red-colored hot spring is said to heal skin ailments, while the white-colored hot spring is said to improve circulation.
Discover the Takachiho Gorge
The Takachiho Gorge, located in the Miyazaki Prefecture, is a stunning natural wonder that’s worth exploring. The gorge was formed by the Gokase River cutting through the rock over thousands of years, creating a narrow, steep-walled canyon. Visitors can take a boat ride along the gorge’s calm waters, surrounded by lush greenery and towering cliffs. The gorge is also home to the Takachiho Shrine, a beautiful shrine that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
But the Takachiho Gorge is not just a beautiful natural wonder; it’s also steeped in mythology. According to legend, the goddess Amaterasu hid in a cave in the Takachiho Gorge, plunging the world into darkness. The other gods and goddesses tried everything to lure her out, but it was the dance of the goddess Ame-no-Uzume that finally coaxed Amaterasu out of the cave and brought light back to the world.
Trek Through Yakushima’s Ancient Forests
Yakushima Island, located off the coast of Kyushu, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ancient forests and unique wildlife. The island is home to some of the world’s oldest trees, including the famous Yakusugi Cedar which is over 1,000 years old. Visitors can hike through the dense forests of Yakushima, home to rare species such as the Yakushima Macaque and the endangered Loggerhead Turtle.
But Yakushima’s forests are not just ancient; they also have a spiritual significance. The island’s forests have been worshipped as sacred since ancient times, and many of the trees are believed to be inhabited by spirits. The island’s forests also inspired the animated film “Princess Mononoke” by Studio Ghibli.
Witness the Unzen Jigoku Hell
The Unzen Jigoku Hell, located in Nagasaki Prefecture, is a group of hot springs and geysers that resemble a scene from Dante’s Inferno. The water in the hot springs is acidic and ranges in color from bright blue to burnt-orange. Visitors can walk along the wooden walkways that meander through the site’s scenic volcanic landscape and witness the power of mother nature.
But the Unzen Jigoku Hell is not just a geological wonder; it’s also a place of historical significance. The hot springs were used as a place of punishment during the Edo period, and many Christians were tortured and killed in the hot springs during the Christian persecution in Japan. Today, the Unzen Jigoku Hell is a peaceful place where visitors can reflect on the past and marvel at the beauty of nature.
Immerse Yourself in Kyushu’s Rich History
Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, is a treasure trove of history and culture. The island has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has played a significant role in Japan’s history. From the ancient samurai to the devastating atomic bombing, Kyushu has witnessed it all. Here are some of the must-visit historical sites in Kyushu:
Explore the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum
Nagasaki City is a poignant reminder of the devastating effects of war. The city was bombed by the United States on August 9, 1945, and the effects of the atomic bomb are still felt today. The Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum are dedicated to the history of the bombing and its aftermath. The museum showcases the devastating impact of the bomb and the efforts of the city to rebuild itself. The park is a memorial to the victims of the bombing and serves as a reminder of the importance of peace.
Visit the Kumamoto Castle
The Kumamoto Castle, located in the Kumamoto Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most impressive castles. The castle was built in the early 17th century by the daimyo Kato Kiyomasa and is renowned for its beautiful architecture and intricate wooden interiors. The castle has survived numerous battles and earthquakes and has been restored to its former glory. Visitors can learn about the castle’s history and enjoy a stunning view of the city from its tower.
Discover the Dutch-Inspired Dejima District
The Dejima District, located in Nagasaki City, is a fascinating glimpse into Japan’s relationship with the outside world. The district was established in the late 16th century as Japan’s only trading port with the outside world. The district was heavily influenced by the Dutch, who were the only foreigners allowed to trade with Japan during the Edo period. Today, visitors can explore the historic district and learn about its fascinating history. The district has been restored to its original appearance, and visitors can see the Dutch-style houses and warehouses that once lined the streets.
Wander Through the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, located in Fukuoka Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most important shrines. The shrine is dedicated to the god of learning, Sugawara no Michizane, and students often visit the shrine to pray for success in their studies. The shrine was established in the 10th century and has been a place of pilgrimage ever since. Visitors can wander through the shrine’s tranquil gardens and admire its beautiful architecture. The shrine is particularly beautiful during the plum blossom season, which takes place in February and March.
Uncover the History of the Samurai at Chiran Peace Museum
The Chiran Peace Museum, located in Kagoshima Prefecture, is a museum dedicated to the history of the Samurai. The museum showcases the lives of the Samurai and their involvement in Japan’s political and military history. The museum has a large collection of Samurai artifacts, including weapons, armor, and personal belongings. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits and enjoy a peaceful walk through the adjacent gardens. The museum is a fascinating glimpse into Japan’s feudal past and the lives of the Samurai.
These are just a few of the historical sites that Kyushu has to offer. Whether you’re a history buff or just interested in learning more about Japan’s rich culture, Kyushu is a must-visit destination.
Experience Kyushu’s Vibrant Cities
Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan, is a region that’s rich in culture and history. The island is home to several vibrant cities, each with its own unique charm and character. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most exciting cities in Kyushu and what they have to offer.
Enjoy the Nightlife in Fukuoka
Fukuoka City, located in the northern part of Kyushu, is a city that never sleeps. The city’s downtown area is home to countless bars, clubs, and restaurants, making it the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience Japan’s party scene. But Fukuoka is not just about nightlife. Visitors can also explore the city’s historic landmarks such as the Fukuoka Castle and the Hakozaki Shrine. The castle, which was built in the 17th century, is one of the few remaining castles in Japan that still has its original keep.
Discover the Art Scene in Oita
Oita City, located in the Oita Prefecture, is a city that’s known for its vibrant art scene. The city is home to several contemporary art museums, including the Oita Prefectural Art Museum and the Oita City Museum of Art. The former showcases the works of local artists, while the latter has a collection of over 7,000 pieces of art from Japan and around the world. But Oita is not just about art. The city’s natural beauty is also worth exploring, with hot springs, beaches, and the stunning Kuju Mountains.
Shop and Dine in Kagoshima
Kagoshima City, located in the southern part of Kyushu, is a city that’s brimming with life. Visitors can explore the city’s busy shopping streets, such as Tenmonkan, which is lined with shops selling everything from local crafts to high-end fashion. But Kagoshima is not just about shopping. The city is also known for its food, with some of the best Japanese cuisine in the country. Visitors can try local specialties such as kurobuta pork and Satsuma-age, a type of fish cake. The city’s most popular attraction is the Sakurajima volcano, which towers over the city and makes for a dramatic backdrop.
Visit the Historic City of Nagasaki
Nagasaki City is a historic city that’s steeped in culture and tradition. The city played an important role in Japan’s history, as it was one of the few ports that were open to foreign trade during the Edo period. Visitors can explore the city’s historic sites such as the Glover Garden, which showcases the city’s westernization period in the late 19th century. The garden is named after Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant who played a key role in modernizing Japan’s economy. Nagasaki is also known for its delicious local cuisine, including the famous champon noodles and kakuni pork.
Explore the Coastal City of Miyazaki
Miyazaki City is a coastal city located in the southeastern part of Kyushu. The city is known for its stunning beaches, such as Aoshima Beach, which is famous for its ‘Onsen Manju,’ a hot spring dumpling. Visitors can also explore the city’s historic sites such as the Miyazaki Shrine, which was built in the 7th century. The shrine is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, and it’s one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan. Miyazaki is also home to several natural wonders, such as the Takachiho Gorge and the Nichinan Coast, which offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
In conclusion, Kyushu is a land of contrasts, with stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and fascinating history. Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, or a history buff, Kyushu has something for everyone. We hope this article has inspired you to visit this amazing part of Japan and explore its many hidden treasures.