Top ChoiceMuseum in Nagasaki

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

On 9 August 1945, the world's second nuclear weapon detonated over Nagasaki, and this sombre place recounts the city's destruction and loss of life through photos and artefacts, including mangled rocks, trees,...

Top ChoicePark in Nagasaki

Peace Park

Peace Park

North of the hypocentre, Peace Park is presided over by the 10-tonne bronze Nagasaki Peace Statue, designed in 1955 by Kitamura Seibō. It also includes the dove-shaped Fountain of Peace (1969) and the Peace...

Top ChoiceGardens in Kagoshima


In 1658, the 19th Shimazu lord laid out his pleasure garden on this hilly, rambling bayside property of groves, hillside trails and one of Japan's most impressive pieces of 'borrowed scenery': the fuming peak of...

Top ChoiceVolcano in Aso-san Area

Naka-dake Crater

Naka-dake (1506m) is Aso's active volcano – very active in recent years, with fatal eruptions in 1958 and 1979, and other significant eruptions in 1989, 1990, 1993 and 2016. Access to the crater area may be...

Top ChoiceCastle in Kumamoto



Dominating the skyline, Kumamoto's robust castle is one of Japan's best, built in 1601–07 by daimyō Katō Kiyomasa, whose likeness is inescapable around the castle (look for the distinctive tall pointed hat). From...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Nagasaki



In 1641 the Tokugawa shogunate banished all foreigners from Japan, with one exception: Dejima, a fan-shaped, artificial island in Nagasaki harbour. From then until the 1850s, this tiny, 15,000-sq-metre Dutch...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Dazaifu

Kyūshū National Museum

Built into the tranquil eastern hills of Dazaifu and reached through more escalators than can be found at the average airport, this striking structure (built 2005) resembles a massive space station and chronicles...

Top ChoiceShinto Shrine in Takachiho



One of Shintō's loveliest shrines honours the cave where the goddess Amaterasu hid. The cave itself is off-limits, but Nishi Hongū (the shrine's main building) sits right across the Iwato-gawa. Ask a staff member...

Top ChoiceShinto Shrine in Dazaifu

Dazaifu Tenman-gū

Dazaifu Tenman-gū

Among the countless visitors to the grand, sprawling Tenman-gū – shrine and burial place of poet-scholar Tenman Tenjin – are students making offerings and buying amulets in hopes of passing college entrance...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Chiran

Chiran Peace Museum

There is perhaps no more eloquent monument to the futility of war than this harrowing museum about WWII kamikaze pilots. Around 2km west of town, Chiran’s air base was the point of departure for 1036 WWII tokkō...

Top ChoiceCastle in Karatsu


Nicknamed Maizuru-jō (Dancing Crane Castle), this elegantly proportioned white castle (built 1608, rebuilt 1966 and refurbished 2017) is picturesquely perched on a hill overlooking the sea. Inside are antique...

Top ChoiceBuddhist Site in Kunisaki Peninsula

Kumano Magaibutsu

Deep in a forest along a mossy riverbed are two Heian-period Buddha images carved into a cliff: a 6m figure of the Dainichi Buddha and an 8m figure of Fudō-Myō-o. Known as Kumano Magaibutsu, these are the largest...

Top ChoiceBuddhist Site in Usuki

Usuki Stone Buddhas

These thousand-year-old stone Buddhas lie just outside Usuki. Four clusters comprising 60-plus images (59 are designated National Treasures) lie in a series of niches in a ravine. They're largely made of lava...

Top ChoiceChurch in Nagasaki

Ōura Cathedral

This hilltop church, Japan's oldest (1864), is dedicated to the 26 Christians who were crucified in Nagasaki in 1597. The former seminary and bishop's residence have recently been renovated to house a museum...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Arita

Kyūshū Ceramic Museum

About 15 minutes on foot from Arita Station, this large, hilltop operation is the most comprehensive ceramics museum in the region. The Shibata Collection showcases the development and styles of Kyūshū's many...

Top ChoiceIsland in Nagasaki



From afar, the Unesco World Heritage island of Hashima resembles a battleship, hence its nickname Gunkanjima ('battleship island'). Up close, this long-abandoned coal mine looks as though it's straight out of an...

Top ChoiceCastle in Shimabara



This hilltop castle was ruled mostly by the Matsudaira clan from the 1660s and played a part in the Shimabara Rebellion. It was rebuilt in 1964. As well as lotus ponds, tangled gardens, almost 4km of massive...

Top ChoiceFactory in Arita

Kouraku Kiln

This fascinating pottery factory has something for everyone: you can try making simple pottery on the throwing wheel (your pieces can be fired and mailed to you within Japan); you can stay here longer in a...

Top ChoiceGardens in Kumamoto


Southeast of the city centre, this photogenic lakeside garden was built between 1636 and 1716 for the ruling Hosokawa clan. The main path represents the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō (the feudal road that linked...