thermal mountains and onsens, historic cities, beautifully scenic!
You can a tour around Kyushu...the third largest island in Japan, with its own unique features, attractions and history, relatively easily. Being less populated, there is a more rural feel...although there are several good sized cities including Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Kagoshima.
The scenery is of fresh, uncluttered cedar tree clad mountains, golden rice fields, neat rows of manicured tea bushes tumbling down the hillsides, steaming thermal activity .... and coastal views.
MOUNT SAKURAJIMA - KYUSHU
Rivers run through rocky gorges, waterfalls cascading down the sheer rock cliffs...........creating beautiful scenic areas which attract thousands of holidaymakers each year.
A holiday around Kyushu with its mountains, rivers, lakes, beaches,forests and farming .... allows you to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities.....
- Walking and hiking
- Onsens – you have a huge choice
- Hot air ballooning
- Horse riding
RICE PADDIES - KYUSHU
Cities and Towns Around Kyushu
Fukuoka is the main city with a population of just over 1 million people, where international arrivals to Kyushu fly in, and the shinkansen from Tokyo arrives at the centrally located station.
Before you start your tour around Kyushu you should plan to spend a day or two here. There are some interesting features........ but you could see the best of Fukuoka in a day if time is short.
Canal City and Ohori Park are the stand out features you must visit.
Nagasaki famed for the Atomic Bomb and now a "monument to peace" with its famous Peace Park, is a fascinating travel destination with a Portuguese and Dutch history that influences the architecture and many features of the city. It is well worth spending three to four days here as there is a lot to do and see.
Sightseeing around Miyazake
One of the islands fascinating travel destinations, Mt Aso is located in central Kyushu. This still active volcanic mountain with a huge steaming thermal caldera...the largest in the world..... is unusual in that you can drive right up to the crater, where it is well set up for tourists with pathways wending their way through the volcanic lava fields.
MT ASO CALDERA
For those without transport there is a gondola to the top of Mt Aso. The five peaks of this mountain are reminiscent of a Buddha lying down and tourists flock to the lookout to see this view.
There are several attractions around Kyushu's Mt Aso area...you could stay in one accommodation taking day trips if you have your own transport.
Mt Aso Farms was an unusual shopping complex worth a wander. The round eco buildings housed some very different retail outlets such as specialty mushrooms growing on loaves of bread! Jewellery and gemstones, local fruit and vegetables, the usual array of sweets, a fun park and a hotel.
This beautiful mountain resort town,near Mt Aso.... is a must visit destination if you plan a holiday round Kyushu. Takachiho Gorge with its stunning bridges, gorge walk and boats under the waterfall are a major highlight of Kyushu.
If you are not driving... the train takes you to the Takachiho station, from where you can walk the gorge and do the row boat under the waterfall.
Amano Iwato-Jinga Shrine
The Amano Iwato-Jinga Shrine about 8 kilometres out of Takachiho is lovely. There is a picturesque walk through forest, beside a stream to the Amano Yasugawara Cave Shrine with fascinating stacked stone images representing ”the good and the evil” a Japanese man explained to me.
If you are there at the right time – 2-3 May, 21st – 23rd September and 3rd November you can attend the evening Iwato Kagura festivals .... 33 dances representing local folklore are displayed.
Kagoshima...an historic Edo period castle city, featuring covered shopping arcades, narrow streets of restaurants,trams, parks and gardens is easily reached from Fukuoka by train or plane.
Sitting in the shadow of Mt Sakurajima...it will depend on this mountain’s mood whether you have clear views or are to be showered in fine volcanic dust.
Kagoshima is a good base from which you can do day trips out to the surrounding countryside. A tour of the Satsuma and Osumi peninsulas is a scenic trip along the coast. The palms and huge cycads give a truly tropical air to this area around Kyushu.
- Kirishima National Park,
- Kirishima Jinja (Shrine) at the entrance to Kirishima-Yaku National Park
- Onsens at Ibusuki including unusual hot sand onsens
- A visit to the Sochu factory
- Senganen Gardens
- Chiran near Kagoshima is a collection of Samurai houses and gardens built about 260 years ago.
- Kamikaze Peace Museum. -A major Kamikaze pilots base during World War 11
Kumamoto City is famed for its castle.... one of the top 3 fortress castles in Japan dating back to 1607. There are also several gardens of interest including the beautiful Suizenji Jojuen Park.
Nearby Sightseeing of interest includes:
Beppu – Onsens
- Kikuchi Gorge
- Tsujunkyo Bridge – with water fountaining out each side
- Amakusa..a series of picturesque islands
- Kuma River for some outdoor activity
We didn’t get to Beppu as we ran out of time. Beppu is famed for its hot springs and if you love the onsens then you will want to try and get to Beppu where there are 8 onsens all in close range of each other. There are also
which are natural hot springs bubbling up from the earth....for looking at.... not wallowing in!
You may like to include Yakushima Island in your plans when you holiday around Kyushu. Our son and daughter in law spent a few days here before we met up and just loved this unusual island. “It was much better than I ever thought,” said daughter in law.
Yaku-shima Island south of Sata-misaki Point in the southern part of Kagoshima, is designated a world heritage site. The ancient trees include 1,000-year-old Yaku cedars creating a mysterious ambiance.
Points of interest:
- Shiratani-unsui-kyo Gorge with beautiful gorges and primeval forests
- Yaku Cedar Land with magnificent woods,
- Inaka-hama Beach with turtles coming for laying their eggs
- An Echo Tour takes you on a guided mountain climb and hike.
To get to the island you can either fly or go by boat.
Accommodation Around Kyushu
With a selection of hotels from 5 star to business three star, ryokans and Japanese inns, pensions or B&B's,and backpackers ...there is plenty of choice.It will depend on your mode of transport and travel budget what accommodation you probably choose.
PENSION UMI NEKI YA
There is a wide choice of Pensions which are a great experience,but you often need a car or own transport to get to them.We stayed at pensions in the Kumamoto Prefecture and enjoyed the experience of staying in homes of locals.....each with special interesting features and delicious meals. We enjoyed:-
- A rustic cottge amongst the trees this home was packed with antiques and memorabilia.With comfortable beds and Japanese style bathroom the only drawback was we had to go to the local onsen to bathe.
The meals were organic with delicious home made breads, yoghurt, jams and chutneys.
#2 - Pension Diary
- Another lovely country cottage this had two bathrooms, a japanese bath, and beautifully appointed rooms.
The meals were just fantastic.Our 5 course dinner was again mostly home made and grown. Both dinner and breakfast were supurb!
I would highly recommend both pensions.
The choice of accommodation in Kagoshima was a little limited and it was wise to book in advance......especially if it is a Japanese Holiday week as it was when we were there!
Getting Around Kyushu
There is a good network of trains around Kyushu ...although the shinkansen does not run the full distance from Fukuoka. However, we found we could connect with it and it was all relatively easy to find your way .
NOTE:Be sure to get a Japan Rail Pass before you leave home. You can get Passes just for Kyushu that are cheaper if you are not going off the island.
We hired a car....but our Japanese daughter-in-law did the driving. However driving around Kyushu was relatively comfortable.The roads are not busy except in the cities..... and if you have a good map, finding your way around was not too demanding except in the cities. ( My personal opinion - research further yourself!)
Parking is always difficult and it would be wise to organise parking with your hotel when you book if you plan to use a rental car.
There is a network of buses around Kyushu that may work for you in conjunction with the trains.
Day Tours or a Tour
You may find a tour whether it be just for a day or for your full holiday may work best, so long as you are happy to be limited in where you go and what you see etc.Most tours seem to cover the best of the sights. Personally I would go independently and take day tours. You then have some flexibility as you travel.
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