For those that choose to experience Japan beyond Tokyo and Kyoto, the island of Kyushu brings new meaning to discovery and excitement. Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan and the most southwest of its four main islands. Kyushu consists of seven prefectures, Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima and is a place abundant with nature. This region is an early center of Japanese civilization and history, well known for fresh local foods, hot springs, arts and much more. The trip to Kyushu will offer you inspirational experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Here are some insights into glorious Kyushu Island.
Dazaifu Tenmangu is in Fukuoka prefecture and is a remarkable shrine beautifully surrounded by about 6,000 plum trees on 80 acres. The shrine preserves Sugawara Michizane (845-903) as the god of academic achievement and many students who prepare for their entrance examination worship the shrine to pray for success. Highlighting the grounds of the shrine, there are three bridges that rise over Shinji pond. The first is an arched bridge that represents the past. The second is a flat bridge that signifies the present while the third arched bridge represents the future. After crossing any of the bridges the Buddhist belief is you will cleanse your mind and body.
The traditional Japanese garden, Sengan-en in Kagoshima prefecture is a beautiful place to enjoy taking a stroll. There are 12 acres of land to explore with rows of beautiful blooms, glorious trees, glimpses of ponds, shrines and other architectural features. The garden has spectacular views of an active volcano Sakurajima island and Kinko Bay. Cherry blossoms in spring are also a remarkable scene. The gardens are associated with the Shimadzu family for over 350 years and nowadays the place provides great insight into the life of a feudal lord. In the gardens, there is a short trekking course perfect to enjoy the panoramic view and partake in a tea ceremony experience in a traditional setting.
For more information about Dazaifu Tenmangu, please visit here.
For more information about Sangan-en, please visit here.
Contributing to the island's considerable appeal are its many culinary delicacies. With a wealth of unique, local ingredients and blessed by a warm climate, rich volcanic soil and nearby oceans, Kyushu is abundant with local culinary specialties.
No trip to Kyushu should end without a sampling of authentic pork shabu shabu, a delicious Japanese hot pot dish. Kagoshima's famous Kurobuta (Berkshire pork) shabu shabu is outstanding for any connoisseur and in fact, the dish has put the region on the culinary map.
Kyushu is famous for its variety of top Shochu brands. Shochu is the artisan-produced spirit distilled from food ingredients and water. The most famous is Satsuma Shochu made in Kagoshima, with high quality local sweet potatoes and water. Take part and indulge in the natural sweetness and aroma of this local delicacy.
Kyushu is one of best hot spring destinations in Japan. Many travelers relax and spoil themselves experiencing natural hot springs while embracing nature.
Sunamushi Onsen (or hot sand baths) in the city of Ibusuki on the southern tip of Kyushu island, is a laid-back seaside resort famous for luxurious open-air hot sand baths, both unique and therapeutic. Practiced for centuries, this relaxing and detoxifying ritual has been pleasing visitors who can immerse in the warm sands of Kagoshima Bay beaches. Ibusuki's deluxe Ibusuki Hakusuikan hotel has its own sand spa and pampers guests with spacious rooms with ocean views and tranquil gardens.
Beppu Onsen is a hot springs in Oita prefecture, whose number of hot spring wells and the yield of hot water is the largest in Japan. Eight hot spring villages in Beppu city are approximately 10% of hot spring wells across the whole of Japan. You can try all sorts of styles of hot springs such as open-air bath, steamed bath (sauna) and bathing in old traditional wooden houses. There is a unique sightseeing spot in Beppu that offers the Jigoku tour (hell tour) and takes you to eight Jigoku. Now the place is designated as a national scenic spot and interesting theme park to explore and observe natural volcanic activities including the different colors of eight Jugoku hot springs.
In the Oita prefecture is the Spa town of Yufuin situated at the base of beautiful Mt Yufu-dake. Its tranquil mountains and plentiful flow of warm therapeutic natural spring waters has long attracted writers, artists and wellness-seekers coming to visit the region. It is prominent as one of the top hot spring resorts in Japan. There is a variety of places that offer a range of lodging from family-friendly hotels to luxurious first class accommodations. Experience one of the most popular hot spring resorts in Japan.
For more information about Ibusuki Hakusuikan, please visit here.
For more information about Beppu, please visit here.
For more information about Yufuin, please visit here.
Kyushu is a place that will truly energize and empower you. Wild waterfalls, trekking courses in dense forests, giant stumps and ancient cedar trees are rightly a holiday escape to nature.
Yakushima is an island in the Kagoshima prefecture approximately 2-3 hours from Kagoshima port by ferry. It is renowned as one of Japan's deepest forest with trees ranging from 2,700 to 4,000 years old that create a peaceful and secluded escape. As one of Japan's treasured World Heritage Sites, Yakushima's ancient forest and temperate climate make the island a perfect vacation gateway.
Takachiho Gorge is located in the northwestern part of the Miyazaki prefecture, in the center of the Kyushu Mountains. Steep V shaped gorges were unfolded naturally by rapid cooling of an ancient lava flow that filled the valley of the Gokase River. A boat ride is a perfect way to explore the gorge. Once you are in the heart of the gorge, enjoy the scenes of dynamic landscapes and spectacular waterfalls.
For more information about Yakushima, please visit here.
For more information about Takachiho gorge, please visit here.
Kyushu is a heaven If you like Japanese traditional ware. Many galleries and souvenir shops display and offer an array of traditional wares locally crafted. In fact, the traditional crafts displayed in this region characterize Japan's top traditional craftwork.
The cities of Imari, Arita and Karatsu in Saga prefecture are home to Japanese pottery and porcelain creations, whose artistry and craftwork date back to the 16th century. Arita or Imari ware have particular fine characteristics of being thin, light but still solid. The colorful and gorgeous designs attract many buyers from all around the world. Traditionally constructed with rough and coarse clay Karatsu ware has a simple but robust appearance.
Varieties of fine traditional crafts have also endured in the Kagoshima prefecture for centuries. One of Kagoshima's treasures, the local style of cut glass called Satsuma Kiriko comes in dazzlingly pure hues of crimson, dark blue, golden red, yellow, purple, and green. This elegant style of glass cutting originated here at the end of the Edo period. Undoubtedly a must for any souvenir seeker wanting to purchase outstanding traditional crafts. Additionally, Satsuma ware (or earthen ware pottery) with its exquisite cracked glaze, is another example of unique Kyushu craft work.
For more information about Arita, Imari and Karatsu, please visit here.
For more information about Satsuma Kiriko, please visit here.
Take a car, train or bus to countless attractive destinations in Kyushu. Several convenient passes or special trains are available in Kyushu. Japan's first luxury cruise train, "Seven Stars" (Nanatsuboshi) provides the consummate luxury tour of Kyushu. The entire experience reflects the Japanese tradition of the pursuit of perfection. Travel with elegance and quality in every detail, rich with wood and luxurious fabrics. Indulge in the onboard service and be fascinated with the stunning scenery visible through its oversized windows.
For more information about seven Stars, please visit here.
In southwestern Japan, splendid and gratifying Kyushu Island awaits, all you have to do is get there.
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