Kyushu, Japan is the southernmost island of Japan's Big Four and is known for it's stunning wilderness and beautiful beaches. Kyushu is a popular tourist destination, though the dialect here can be extremely hard to understand, so knowing some Japanese can be extremely useful when trying to communicate with locals.
The climate here tends to be far more tropical than the rest of Japan; they have very hot and rainy summers and experience the autumn typhoon season in full force. As such, spring tends to be the best time to visit as temperatures stay in the 60's (Fahrenheit) and are a little less rainy.
In the city of Fukuoka, you'll find beautifully preserved shrines and Buddhist temples in the Gion area, including the 8th century Kushida Shrine. You can visit the Nagoya Castle ruins in Karatsu and view some of the original castle walls along with the modern museum on the grounds.
The beach resort city of Miyazaki is famous for the small island of Aoshima which houses a temple that is said to bring good luck to those looking for a spouse. In Kumamoto, you'll find one of the top four gardens in Japan, the Suizenji Gardens, that has been designed with small hills and large trees that provide a relaxed, countryside feeling smack dab in the middle of a large city.
The island of Kyushu is home to many unique and culturally rich cities, many of which have become popular tourist destinations over the years. The first is Fukuoka, the largest city on the island that hosts sumo tournaments, huge festivals, and has beautiful architecture. Karatsu has a stunning seaside castle and is famous for their pottery. Kitakyushu is a major port city that combines ancient ports and castles with modern attractions like their space theme park. Nagasaki is well known as one of the two towns to be atomic bombed in 1945, but is also well known for being Japan's first open port and for having the oldest Chinatown in Japan.
Sasebo is a more relaxed city that is home to a U.S. Navy base. Miyazaki is a popular beach resort town that is home to the Easter Island heads. Kumamoto is a historically rich castle town with stunning, scenic, gardens. Kagoshima is one of the southernmost cities and located next to the active Sakurajima volcano. Finally, there is Beppu, famous for their hot springs and monkey park.
Fukuoka is a great city to explore, especially on bicycle. Rent a bike and follow one of the many paths that take you around the city, like to the Mitoma Beach or the Bayside Place Hakata Pier. Kitakyushu is famous for Space World, a theme park complete with their own Space Camp where you can take classes to learn some of the same techniques as NASA astronauts. You can't visit the Kyushu region without going to Beppu to partake in their hot springs resorts, which are some of the oldest hot springs in Japan.
Festivals are very popular in this region, Fukuoka hosts the Dontaku and Yamakasa festivals which are some of the oldest festivals in Japan. Nagasaki hosts one of Japan's most popular festivals, O-Kunchi, which involves large parade floats, dancing, and plenty of food and alcohol. Kitakyushu hosts five Midsummer Festivals that last from mid-July to early August. The festivals include large floats, dancing, and huge fireworks displays.
Food and Dining
Nagasaki is famous for champon, a dish made of large noodles in a pork-based broth. Note: you'll find many pork dishes throughout the city. For something more adventurous, head to Karatsu, famous for serving live squid which is either served as sashimi or for you to pull off the live body. There is a fair amount of nightlife in Nagasaki and Kitakyushu, with a mix of pubs and Western style cubs. Outside of these cities, there are still plenty of bars, most of which are pub style and serve up food and a relaxed atmosphere.
Getting around Kyushu is pretty easy thanks to the very fast Kyushu Shinkansen train that runs across the region. There are some local train lines and buses, though they tend to have more limited schedules. Most cities are entirely walkable and do not require transport outside of the Shinkansen. Bicycles are also very popular in this region and are a great way to get around without having to rely on sometimes expensive public transport options. Car rentals are available, although only suggested for people who plan to do a lot of traveling outside of the major cities and for people who are extremely confident drivers.
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