Located in the western part of Japan, the Kyushu region includes Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumano, Miyagi and Kagoshima Prefectures. The Okinawa area refers to the Okinawa Islands floating in the southwestern part of Japan.
Fukuoka Prefecture is the largest city in Kyushu. The central Fukuoka area and Dazaifu City are rich with historical heritage such as the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. The Kita Kyushu area formerly prospered as a coal mine, and the Yanagawa/Kurume area is famous for eel cuisine and tonkotsu ramen.
Saga Prefecture is known as the birthplace of Japanese porcelain. Particularly, there are lots of porcelain makers and potters in the Arita/Imari region, so if you like pottery be sure to visit there. The Saga Prefecture is blessed with a rich natural environment, meaning plenty of hot springs. In the Saga/Kashima area Takeo Onsen and Ureshino Onsen are very popular as hot springs for beautiful skin.
Nagasaki Prefecture formerly prospered as a port town, and for this reason it is noteworthy for its exotic townscape. There are American military bases in the Nagasaki area and the Sasebo/Hirado area. Because Nagasaki was the second city to have an atomic bomb dropped on it after Hiroshima, there are many facilities dedicated to the preservation of peace such as the Nagasaki Peace Park.
Oita Prefecture boasts the highest volume of hot springs water in Japan. Beppu Onsen and Yufuin Onsen are such famous hot springs areas that everyone in Japan knows about them. Beppu Onsen has 9 different types of hot springs for visitors’ enjoyment, and it is sometimes lightheartedly referred to as a ‘Hell Tour’ because one of the hot springs is bright red and another is full of mud.
Surrounded by Fukuoka, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima Prefectures, Kyushu’s central area is Kumamoto Prefecture. At the heart of Kumamoto Prefecture is the Kumamoto area with Kumamoto Castle. There is also the Aso area, which is designated as a national park. In the Aso area, the Kurokawa Onsen area is separated from civilization and secluded in nature, highly recommended for those who enjoy some quiet time.
Miyazaki Prefecture is known as the setting of many Japanese myths. In the Takachiho region there are many power spots like the Ama-no-iwato-jinja Shrine where the sun goddess Amaterasu hid herself, as well as Manai Falls. Miyazaki has also been characterized by a ‘honeymoon boom’ since the late 1950s; in this area there is the Phoenix Seagaia Resort which is called the ‘Mecca of honeymoon destinations.’
At the southern tip of the Kyushu area is Kagoshima Prefecture. The overwhelming natural environment of this area is its primary attraction: the still-active volcano Sakurajima is located in the Kagoshima area, the Ibusuki area has Ibusuki Onsen which is famous for its ‘suna-mushi’ sand and steam baths, and the Yaku-shima area has Jomon Sugi (Jomon cedar) trees which are over 7000 years old.
Okinawa Prefecture is Japan’s foremost beach resort; it’s so warm that even in winter you can walk around outside in a T-shirt. On the main island there is the Naha area which has Shurijo Castle Park, and the Nago/Onnason area with Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Outside of the main island, there are various remote islands such as Ishigaki-jima and Miyako-jima, where visitors can enjoy numerous aquatic activities like diving and snorkeling.