Hot spring in Beppu, Kyushu, Japan
Holidays to Kyushu, Japan
Lush fertile valleys, lively volcanoes and natural hot springs are topped off with a pleasant sub-tropical climate on Japan's third largest island. Kyushu is an early centre of Japanese civilisation, and the island's temples, shrines and authentic samurai villages give a snapshot into historical life in Japan.
On the northwest coast, the city of Nagasaki suffered total devastation at the hands of an atomic bomb in 1945. Yet for all its tragedy, the city has been able to pay homage to its past through its fascinating museums and beautiful parks. The Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the catastrophic events of WWII and encourages prayer and remembrance.
Fukuoka is one of nine provinces in Kyushu and its namesake capital is the island's most populous city. This colourful metropolis is a wonderful blend of old meets new, where expansive shopping malls, towering skyscrapers and neon signs are offset by scenic parks, interesting museums and beautifully preserved temples and shrines. One such peaceful retreat is the eighth century Shinto shrine known as Kushida-jinja, and it is poetically shaded by a 1,000-year-old gingko tree.
Also in the Fukuoka Prefecture is Kyushu's most northern city – Kitakyushu. If you're lucky enough to be visiting in April or early May, the breathtaking wisteria tunnels at Kawachi Fuji Gardens are not to be missed. Here, you'll step into a watercolour painting brought to life, amid ornate vines and cascading lilac blooms that decorate the garden's famous passageway.
Head due south on the island and you'll find the city of Chiran. Nestled at the isolated tip of Kyushu, this preserved samurai district dates back around 250 years and offers a glimpse into samurai life. Meander through the serene garden of Mori Shigemitsu, with its pretty cluster of samurai houses, manicured gardens and idyllic pond; one of only a handful in the town.
Close to Chiran is the city of Ibusuki where you will find Kaimondake volcano – reaching almost a kilometre into the clouds. It's nicknamed the “Fuji of Kyushu” because of its size, shape and striking symmetry, and on a clear day, a hike to its magnificent peaks is an opportunity not to be missed.
If you're looking for a more laid-back way of embracing Kyushu's bountiful nature, then a visit to Beppu is a must. Set in the western Oita Prefecture, the spa resort town is home to more than 2,000 onsen, making it the perfect spot to unwind and bask in the views of the mountainous backdrop.
Enjoy the wisteria tunnels at Kawachi Fuji Gardens
Simmer in the bubbling, natural springs in Beppu
Explore Chiran's ancient samurai village and gardens
Commemorate peace at The Nagasaki Peace Park