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5 hidden gem places to visit in Kyushu

8 Comments
By Katie Pask, SoraNews24

As someone who has been in Kyushu for over ten years, I can attest that it’s a pretty nice place to live. The island consists of seven prefectures: Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima, and often Okinawa is included too.

Kyushu is much more laid back than its mainland counterpart, and people here are friendly and full of character. Where else can you can enjoy city life with beautiful scenic views just a stone’s throw away? I wouldn’t trade living down here for Tokyo at all.

However, Kyushu is often overlooked in people’s Japan itineraries. A shame, because you miss out on visiting places like the Nagasaki Peace Museum, Kumamoto Castle, or other great sightseeing spots. But Kyushu has much more to offer than what a cursory Google search might tell you. Where are the places that the locals like to visit? Here are a couple for you!

1. Nanzoin Temple, Fukuoka Prefecture

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Nanzoin Temple is home to the biggest bronze statue in the world, the Reclining Buddha. Just a quick 25 minute train journey away from Hakata station, visitors are encouraged to grab the coloured ropes in the Buddha’s left hand and say a prayer.

The statue stands at a whopping 300 tons (272,000 kilograms), and it has been around for over a hundred years, originally a gift to Japan from Myanmar.

2. The Hells of Beppu, Oita Prefecture

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While Oita prefecture is famous for hot springs, these hot springs are just for looking at. Known as the “Hells” of Beppu, these eight hot springs each have their own unique charm, including the “Umi Hell,” a bright blue hot spring that’s surrounded by beautiful gardens, and the “Oniishibozu Hell,” a hot spring with bubbling mud that looks like a monk’s shaven head.

3. Udo Shrine, Miyazaki Prefecture

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Nestled away in a cave in southern Miyazaki, Udo Shrine is a unique shrine with a great ocean view. According to Japanese legend, the shrine is said to be related to Emperor Jimmu who, according to Shinto myths, was the first emperor of Japan.

There are several rocks in the cave that resemble breasts, and the young Emperor was said to have breast-fed on these rocks. As a result, drinking the water that drips from the cave walls is thought to bring good luck to pregnant women. There is also a rope target on the rocks below the shrine. Buy a set of lucky rocks and see if you can throw them inside the target for extra good luck.

4. Kuju Flower Park, Oita Prefecture

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With over three million flowers to see, Kuju Flower Park is a great place to take some beautiful pictures. The flowers available vary by season, with an average of five hundred different varieties on display, including sunflowers, tulip,s and pink moss. As if it wasn’t already picturesque enough, the Kuju Mountain Range can be seen in the distance, and it’s open for camping too.

5. Mt Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture

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Mt. Aso is the largest active volcano in all of Japan, and ranks as one of the biggest in the world. As it is an active volcano, visitors are often restricted from getting too close, so check out the information page to see if it is safe to visit. When it’s not busy erupting, visitors can walk around the crater and see the beautiful blue lake inside it, or just enjoy the beautiful countryside that surrounds the mountain. There’s lots of gorgeous scenery in the area surrounding it too.

Of course, there are many other great places to visit in Kyushu, as well as delicious local food to try out. So once the pandemic slows down and visiting Japan becomes possible again, be sure to include Kyushu on your itinerary. You won’t regret it.

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Survey ranks Japanese prefectures by how much people want to continue living there

-- TripAdvisor Japan announces the country’s 10 favorite shrines and temples

-- Travel around Japan with stunning videos from the 4K ultra HD video library

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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Mount Aso is "hidden"?!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Love Kyushu, been there a couple of times. I have to say though I was slightly disappointed in the Hells - they're interesting enough, but a bit tame(d). I was hoping for something a bit wilder, as the name "Hells" implies.

I'd like to nominate the Sekibutsu in Usuki as a hidden gem, if "hidden" means not many other visitors. Fabulous figures of Buddha carved into the rock faces, some of them 1200 years old. Down below the Buddhas, a field of flowers if you go at the right time of year (we were there at the end of May). And as a bonus, we saw a real live tanuki at the top of the hill, although I imagine that can't always be guaranteed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Most of these are well-travelled (and overly-touristy) destinations. Maybe they are "hidden" because they are in Kyushu? The Hell onsen has been the biggest tourist trap in Kyushu for many decades. For real hidden gems, try Amakusa (stunning views and interesting Hidden Christian history - still with few tourists despite its UNESCO World Heritage status), countless beautiful waterfalls in Oita, Kagoshima (especially) and Kumamoto that tourists rarely visit, the seaside in Itoshima, outside Fukuoka City. If you have a rental car and a wandering spirit you won't fail to find a magical hidden site - in the mountains or by the sea. Not exactly hidden, but Yakushima is awesome, and doesn't feel touristy.

You can feel the ancient history and mysticism in Kyushu like no place else. And the views are often stunning. And the food is great. Just avoid the tourist traps like Hell onsen unless that's what you want.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I spent 4 years in Fukuoka, not far from the Nanzoin reclining buddha in Sasaguri.

The buddha is actually a horrible eyesore. Its a modern statue and what you can’t see in the photo is the gigantic concrete supporting structure below it which despoils the scenery in an otherwise quite charming little place.

The temple is actually part of a mini version of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage route which is spread out around the local mountainside. The reclining buddha is by far the worst part of it, the others are very quaint and not dominated by concrete.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The statue stands at a whopping 300 tons (272,000 kilograms), and it has been around for over a hundred years, originally a gift to Japan from Myanmar.

This is just plain wrong, the temple has been there for more than a 100 years but the statue was built in 1995.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only lived in Fukuoka for 2 years, but have been there and other spots in northern Kyushu many times. Agree, I'd take Kyushu over Tokyo any time. Food? No comparison; Kyushu is waaay better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I visited Kyushu 2 years ago. We made a "mad dash" to Fukuoka from Tokyo.

Somehow we got tickets to the BASHO TOURNAMENT.

We stayed for 2 nights only, then moved back north to Kino Saki Onsen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kyushu is an incredible place. Ebino Kogen, Kirishima National Park. I used to take my customers to Shinmoedake on a 'James Bond tour' before it blew up.

Great people, great nature, mad weather, just an amazing island.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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