So far in our exploration of the different regions of Japan, we’ve taken a look at 10 reasons to visit Shikoku, 5 reasons to visit Tohoku, and 10 reasons to go to Hokkaido. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the reasons to consider Kyushu …
- The volcanoes
Forget Mount Fuji: Kyushu has some of the most beautiful and interesting volcanoes in Japan. Mount Aso, for example, is the most active volcano in the country. The surrounding countryside is absolutely beautiful, and when the mountain does not emit too much smoke and ash, it is possible to take a cable car to the top and look inside its brilliant blue lake.
Sakurajima, off the coast of Kagoshima, is another of Kyushu’s impressive volcanoes. Once an island floated in the bay, it joined the mainland after its last eruption in 1914.
- The islands
Kyushu is the gateway to some of our favorite Japanese islands, which can be reached by ferry or plane from the island’s coastal cities. Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island”, is an abandoned mining island that rose to fame as the inspiration for Javier Bardem’s lair in the James Bond film Skyfall. This year it was awarded a World Heritage Site, and can now be visited on a day cruise from Nagasaki.
Yakushima, meanwhile, is a very different kind of island, thickly covered in ancient forests and populated primarily by deer and monkeys. This is one of our favorite destinations in Japan.
- Hot springs
Wherever there are volcanoes, there are hot springs, and the hot spring bath is Japan’s most treasured cultural pastime. For dramatic, moon-like, steamy landscapes, bubbling pools, and the smell of sulfur, head to Unzen Onsen. For the quintessential traditional hot spring town, full of wooden buildings and pretty baths, there is no better place than Kurokawa Onsen. And these are just a few of our favorites!
Japan may be most famous for its sprawling cities and towering skyscrapers, but there are beautiful landscapes found on every major island in the country. Kyushu landscapes tend to be lush, green, and open, with a very different atmosphere than the mighty mountains of Honshu, the hidden valleys of Shikoku, or the windswept plains of northern Hokkaido.
It may be the warm weather, but everyone who visits Kyushu seems to comment on the languid pace of life and the cheerful, laid-back attitude of its residents. Tokyo’s frenzied rush and Osaka’s brash audacity have their own merits, but it’s Kyushu where you’ll really get a chance to slow down and enjoy the open and welcoming attitude of your hosts.
- The history
Everyone knows about the devastating history of Nagasaki, which was the second and last city to be hit by an atomic bomb in 1945. Although the monument to peace and the history of war is fascinating, Nagasaki has a much longer history. long and rich than most people. realize – having been one of the only places open to foreign trade during Japan’s long period of isolation. We recommend visiting Dejima Island, where Portuguese and Dutch merchants were allowed to do their business during the 17th century, and Glover Gardens, home to some of the oldest Western-style buildings in Japan.
Literally everywhere in Japan there is amazing food, and Kyushu is no different. Hakata ramen is probably the most famous dish on the island, and anyone who has tried it tends to turn glassy when its name is mentioned.
For an unusual, open-air dining experience, Fukuoka’s outdoor food stalls (called yatai) are a fantastic place to sample some of the local specialties and mingle with the locals.