According to clothingexpress, Japan’s third largest island, Kyushu, has long been considered the country’s most “international” region. And this is not surprising: simultaneously with the fall of the samurai traditions, the young intellectuals of the Meiji Restoration “led” the resisting Japan into the New Age, while Kyushu became one of the “pioneer regions” of this very time, taking upon itself the entire “blow” of the outside world. Today, the cosmopolitan city of Fukuoka, located on the island, is a major international transport hub, with everything from beachfront stalls to dance clubs in the Tenjin district come alive at night. And nearby Nagasaki (Japan’s first gate to the West) continues to lead the way in arts and commerce.
Must see Kyushu: hard-to-reach routes of the southern chain of Kirishima volcanoes are open for trekking; tourists and photographers are in for the “eerie” landscape of Aso, while the smoldering Sakurajima looming over Kagoshima from time to time showers the city with a thin layer of ash.
Among other things, Kyushu boasts numerous pottery villages, in particular located around Karatsu and Arita; and coastal Beppu with its hot springs.
The southern cities of Kagoshima and Miyazaki are known for their mild climate and the quality of the strong shochu drink. The Miyazaki region is also considered the mythical home of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who took refuge on the island of Kyushu, hiding in a remote cave, and plunged the world into darkness. Only after being lured out of there by her divine brethren did light and warmth return to Earth and the land of the rising sun.
How to get there
Fukuoka Airport, which is considered one of the busiest international airports in the country, has many air corridors with Asia and Japan. Other Kyushu prefectures offer a much smaller variety of flights within Japan and Asia (generally only to Seoul and Shanghai).
Fukuoka is the gateway to South Korea. The destination is served by several ferry companies.
The Sanyo Shinkansen line runs from Osaka to Fukuoka, and many trains continue on the Kyushu Shinkansen line to Kagoshima. All Shinkansen trains stop at Kokura Station in Kitakyushu and Hakata Station in Fukuoka. The trip on the Nozomi route (the fastest high-speed train route on the line) from Tokyo to Hakata will take about 5 hours and 40 minutes and cost 27,000 JPY.
The Kyushu Shinkansen line crosses the western part of the island and leads to Kagoshima in the south of the country. Many trains to Kagoshima leave from Osaka (about 4 hours). From Hakata to Kagoshima, the train takes about 1.5 hours.
Willer Express provides daily bus service from Nagoya, Tokyo and Osaka.
Kyushu-shinkansen trains in just 1 hour and 20 minutes “domchat” anyone from Fukuoka to Kagoshima. And the Hisatsu line trains run from Kumamoto to Hayato.
In April 2009, on the section between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi stations, the operation of the steam locomotive “Hitoyoshi-go” was resumed, pulling 3 passenger cars through the most picturesque places along the Kuma River.
JR Kyushu travel cards
The Jayaru Kyushu Pass (one of the companies of the Japanese Railways group that operates in Kyushu) is valid only for tourists arriving on tourist visas and provides unlimited use on Jayaru Kyushu lines, including the Kyushu Shinkansen, but not valid on Sanyo-shinkansen lines to Hakatu. A three-day pass, valid for travel in the Northern Kyushu region, will cost 8,500 JPY, a five-day one – 10,000 JPY. A three-day pass valid for all areas of Kyushu costs JPY 15,000, a five- day pass costs JPY 18,000.
One of the most breathtaking scenery in Kyushu is perhaps Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano with one of the largest calderas in the world.
Bus routes cover those parts of the road that are not covered by trains, but their traffic is usually very limited. There is also a network of “highway” buses similar to that of the railroads. They offer “SUNQ” passes that are valid for 3-4 days for an unlimited number of trips: a 4-day pass, valid in all areas of Kyushu, will cost 14,000 JPY, for 3 days – 10,000 JPY; A 3-day pass valid in the North Kyushu area will cost 8,000 JPY.
Fukuoka’s local delicacy is a type of ramen made from boiled pork bone, also known as “tonkotsu ramen”. This Japanese wheat noodle dish can be bought at street stalls, the so-called “yatai”, common on the streets of Fukuoka and Kurume. Kagoshima is an agricultural region of Kyushu and is known for its black pork, named for the color of the pigs; potatoes, in particular, sweet; black beef; tropical fruits; brown sugar. In Kumamoto Prefecture, a very popular dish is “karashirenkon”, which is a lotus root stuffed with mustard and fried in soy and wheat flour. The second equally popular dish is basashi, which is raw horse meat eaten with soy sauce and ginger.
Entertainment and attractions in Kyushu
Kagoshima is the southernmost and one of the main cities in Kyushu with warm and sunny weather and a relaxing atmosphere, even though at this time the Sakurajima volcano dominates the horizon, located a short distance across the bay. From time to time, a thin layer of ash showers Kagoshima’s cars, tree leaves, and rooftops, forcing the city’s residents to regularly use their umbrellas. And this happens as often as precipitation falls in any other part of the Earth.
Volcano on the island of Kyushu – Sakurajima
Of the three peaks of the Sakurajima volcano, the strongest eruption of which occurred in 1914, only Minamidake (1040 m) is active. Tourists are not allowed to climb the volcano, but there are several good vantage points and trails along a short stretch of the lava flow. While some parts of Sakurajima are covered in a layer of deep volcanic ash or crumbling lava, in other places, exceptionally fertile soil can be seen. Daikon weighing up to 35 kg and tiny unshiu tangerines up to 3 cm in diameter grow here. The volcano can be reached by passenger/car ferry between Kagoshima and Sakurajima (160 JPY, 15 min, payment at the end point of the route). There is a bicycle and car rental shop at the ferry crossing area – Sakurajima Renta Car. The cost of renting a car will be 4800 JPY for 2 hours and 6500 JPY for the day.
Landscape of Aso
One of the most breathtaking scenery in Kyushu is perhaps Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano with one of the largest calderas in the world. There are several hills around the caldera with impressive 360-degree views of the caldera itself, the surrounding mountains and cities. The natural springs of the caldera provide the region with fresh water, form beautiful waterfalls in the National Park and feed the windmills located around.
Miyazaki is one of the best surf spots in Japan.
In Kumamoto Prefecture, a very popular dish is “karashirenkon”, which is a lotus root stuffed with mustard and fried in soy and wheat flour.
Fukuoka and Nagasaki
In Fukuoka, it is worth climbing the local tower, 234 meters high, from where you can enjoy stunning views of the city; play with robots in ROBOSQUARE, go to a performance at the Kabuki Theater and the Noh Theater, and visit the National Museum of Kyushu. In Nagasaki, explore the atomic bomb museum dedicated to one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century; museum of history and culture, art museum; admire the penguins in the penguin aquarium and see Shufukuji Temple (1629), one of the finest examples of Ming Dynasty architecture in the world.
Kumamoto and Beppa
In Kumamoto, admire one of the most beautiful castles in Japan surrounded by cherry blossoms, take a walk in one of the four best gardens in Japan – Suizenji, and visit one of the city’s most famous temples – Fujisaki. Well, the most advertised attraction of Beppu, one of the most famous resorts in Japan, is perhaps the “Nine Hells of Beppu” – a kind of collection of unique hot springs.