Put aside Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and every other mainstream tourist hotspot in Japan. It’s time to pay more attention to Kyushu and set out on a brand new adventure of your own. As one of Japan’s 4 main islands, Kyushu has more often than not been completely missed by most travellers to Japan. As an early centre of Japanese civilization, Kyushu is home to modern cities, natural beauty and historic treasures, and perhaps this is exactly where you should be headed to get off the beaten path.
Kyushu is Japan’s southern- and western-most main island. Often described as one of the warmest, friendliest and the most beautiful locations in Japan, Kyushu is home to beautiful coastlines, active volcanic peaks and an abundance of relaxing onsens.
We’ll share with you the beauty of Kyushu and introduce a few of our favourite spots:
1. Lake Ikeda Paradise
Image credit: TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)
Lake Ikeda Paradise is home to beautiful flower fields and offers a breathtaking view of Lake Ikeda and Mt. Kaimon in the distance. The yellow “Nanohana” flowers are in full bloom during the months of January to February.
Lake Ikeda also happens to be the biggest lake in Kyushu, with a depth of 233m and a shoreline of 15km. Apart from the giant eels that reside in the deep waters of the lake, legend has it that a Japanese monster named Isshi inhabits the lake as well. Eyewitnesses have vouched for sightings of the monster but nothing concrete has been found at the moment and you can have a go at spotting Isshi when visiting this beautiful lake.
2. Huis Ten Bosch
Image credit: kobakou
Huis Ten Bosch (which translates to “house in the forest”) is a residential-style resort that is modelled after a medieval 17th Century Dutch town. Soak up the atmosphere of this European town filled with picturesque canals running through the resort, iconic windmills, beautiful gardens and intricate architecture. The resort is complete with amusement rides, speciality shops, restaurants, five distinct hotels, a marina as well as a residential area and is the perfect example of east meeting west.
Seasonal flowers bloom throughout the year at the Flower Kingdom and it’s a mesmerising sight to behold. While on this escape to a European town, take the opportunity to pamper yourselves with a savoury meal at one of the many restaurants. Alternatively, take a break and relax on a leisure boat that brings you on a tour along the canals.
3. Aso Kusasenri
Image credit: Soumei Baba
Kusasenri (which translates to “a thousand leagues of grass) is renowned for its vast emerald green grassland and is the perfect spot for taking a stroll. At Kusasenri, you’re actually standing on top of two vast craters that is filled with boiling magma a couple of thousand metres underneath you.
While you’re there, there’s a chance you’d come up-close with the cows and horses that graze peacefully in the open meadow. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even sign yourselves up for some horse riding through the vast greenlands while catching a glimpse of the smoky Nakadake Peak of Mt. Aso in the distance. Kusasenri is also the perfect spot for a picnic, you can pick up some food at the Michi No Eki farmer’s market near Aso Station before heading over.
4. Hells of Beppu
Image credit: Gabriel Rodriguez
Beppu is known for being a geothermal city on the island of Kyushu, where more onsen water gushes out from the ground compared to anywhere else in Japan. According to folklore, natural onsen are often said to resemble the Japanese afterlife. The Hells of Beppu are actually hot, steaming baths that are rich in minerals that are suited for viewing rather than bathing in.
Jigoku Meguri (“tour of the hells”) brings travellers on a trip to visit all Eight Hells of Beppu — Umi Jigoku (Sea Hell), Shiraike Jigoku (White Pond Hell), Oniyama Jigoku (Devil Mountain Hell), Yama Jigoku (Mountain Hell), Oniishibozu Jigoku, Kamado Jigoku, Chinoike Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell) and Tatsumaki Jigoku (Tornado Hell).
If you’re looking to soak your weary feet after walking for a long day, you don’t have to be disappointed as four of the hot springs would still allow you to do so — Umi Jigoku, Ishionibozu Jigoku, Kamado Jigoku and Chinoike Jigoku. They are known as “ashi mizu” baths, which allows you to soak your feet.
5. Kirishima Shrine
Image credit: STA3816
Part of Kagoshima’s beauty can be attributed to its continued connection to history and tradition, which is seldom present in the more urbanised areas of modern Japan. Kirishima Jingu Shrine is a well-known sacred ground where people visit to seek divine blessings for marriage and children. The mountains of Kirishima remains to be an important site for Japanese myths, and if you have a love for history, the shrine would be your paradise.
The shrine also features an gorgeous architectural style, where the brilliant red of the shrine is contrasted starkly against the solemn dark green background of the surrounding trees, making it a must-visit spot in Kyushu.
From nature lovers to history enthusiasts, Kyushu is perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city life. Venture off the beaten path and visit Kyushu for your next travel destination, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the gems you can discover there.