Kyūshū has long been Japan’s most internationally minded region. Coinciding with the decline of the samurai tradition, young Kyūshū intellectuals of the Meiji Restoration led a reluctant Japan into the modern world. Today the cosmopolitan city of Fukuoka is a major international arrival point. At night, the city’s charms come alive – from the packed riverside food stalls to the hip jazz and dance clubs of the Tenjin district. Nearby Nagasaki, Japan’s first gateway to the West, continues to lead in the arts and commerce.
To the south, unusual hiking opportunities abound in the rugged mountains of the stunning Kirishima volcano chain. The eerie volcanic landscape of Aso-san awaits hikers and photographers alike, while smouldering Sakurajima looms over the port city of Kagoshima, at times showering the town with fine ash which the residents casually respond to with open umbrellas. With plentiful volcanic ash, Kyūshū also boasts numerous pottery villages, especially around Karatsu and Arita. Coastal Beppu is one of Japan’s major hot-spring centres. Further inland, the hot mineral waters of Yufuin and Unzen promise a tranquil dip in a forested getaway setting.
The southern cities of Kagoshima and Miyazaki are known for their balmy climate and for the quality of their shō-chū, a popular drink distilled from sweet potatoes and other grains. The Miyazaki region is also the mythical home of the sun goddess Amaretsu, who took refuge on Kyūshū, hiding in a remote cave and plunging the world into darkness. Only after her fellow gods lured her out did light and warmth return to earth and the land of the rising sun.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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