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Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan located in the most south westerly area of its four main islands. Kyushu consists of seven regions, Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. Each region has its own unique character and offers exceptional unspoilt tourist sites all with an extra warm welcome.
Kyushu is famous for its charming hot spring towns, its high quality local cuisine at affordable price and its natural beauty. The scenic railway journey itself is an attraction for the many visitors of this magnificent island.
Kyushu is an island with a particularly rich history, having been a part of many of the events that would change Japan forever. It was in Kagoshima that the Portuguese first landed and where Christianity was first introduced to Japan, although not long after Christianity was forbidden and the Christians went into hiding. During the Edo period, when Japan purposefully had very little contact with the wider world, particularly the West, it was through Dejima, a small port in Nagasaki that Japan traded with the Dutch, and it became a centre of Western learning on subjects of medicine, science and many samurai actually travelled to this region to engage in ‘rangaku’ or Dutch learning.
Moreover, in the 19th century after the British and Americans arrived on Japanese shores, it was the samurai of one of the most powerful domains in Japan, Satsuma, in modern day Kagoshima that helped lead the war against the Shogun, or Japanese warlord, and restore the emperor to power, which ushered in the period of modernisation.
These days, that rich history and culture is reflected across Kyushu. In Kumamoto, the magnificent Kumamoto Castle is these days a beautiful tourist attraction, being one of Japan’s great castles and a fantastic spot for cherry blossom viewing, but it also has a history as the site of a siege following the Meiji Restoration after samurai and government forces disagreed about the direction of the country. Kumamoto is also home to Mt. Aso, a still active volcano with a crater that can be visited.
The prefectural capital Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu and the 7th most populous in Japan. It is located in southern Japan and is only a three-hour ferry ride from the South Korean city of Busan. The Fukuoka airport is one of the very few airports in Japan located in a city and only 5 minutes away from Hakata station (the 2nd stop) - one of the hubs of the charming Fukuoka city.
Oita is located in the eastern part of Kyushu along the Setonaikai (Seto Inland Sea). Given the mountainous inland areas, Oita offers natural scenic beauty and super fresh seafood every season.
The Saga region in the north-west of Kyushu has borders with the Fukuoka region in the east and the Nagasaki region in the west. Sandwiched between the Genkai Sea in the north and the Ariake Sea in the south, Saga offers not only seasonal fresh seafood but also quality beef.
The Nagasaki region is located in the north-west part of Kyushu and has numerous sites of historical interest filled with a multitude of cultural treasures.
The Kumamoto prefecture is located along the west coast of Kyushu. It’s less than 40 mins by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Hakata station (Fukuoka). Kumamoto is abundant with untouched nature and is famous for Mount Aso- an active volcano with one of the world's largest craters. Kumamoto City - the prefecture capital- is renowned for its castle which is considered to be one of the three principal castles in Japan, along with Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle.
Miyazaki is located on the south eastern coast of Kyushu, and is the mythical home of the sun goddess Amaterasu. The climate is warm and humid but numerous palm trees help with the stifling heat. The Miyazaki-jingu Shrine and Aoshima Shrine are both historical places that provide a scenic yet majestic view.
Kagoshima is located to the south of Kyushu. The region is one of the country’s leading tourist destinations full of various places of interest registered as world natural heritage sites, e.g. the Yakushima Island, the active volcano Sakurajima, a scenic railway route by the river, the coast and hot springs. It also boasts of an impressive array of food and drink. You can find ‘Kuro buta’ (black pork) dishes anywhere in the region. Another local specialty are sweet potatoes (Satsuma imo) which are used in the production of Shochu liquor. Kagoshima features many shochu breweries, and is very popular outside its borders.
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