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
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
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
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
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
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.
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