Top ChoiceTofu in Karatsu

Kawashima Tōfu

On Kyōmachi covered arcade near the station, this renowned tofu shop has been in business since the Edo period and serves refined kaiseki, starring tofu plus other seasonal specialities, around a 10-seat counter...

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

Sengan-en

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

Kumamoto-jō

Kumamoto-jō

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

Dejima

Dejima

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

Ama-no-Iwato-jinja

Ama-no-Iwato-jinja

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

Karatsu-jō

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 ChoiceBar in Kumamoto

Good Time Charlie

Charlie Nagatani is a living legend, the 'Johnny Cash of Japan', the founding figure behind the nation's entire country-music scene, and an accomplished musician and songwriter. He earned the rank of Kentucky...

Top ChoiceRamen in Fukuoka

Ichiran

Ichiran

This Fukuoka-born chain (since 1993) has a nationwide following. That's as much for its serving style as for its fresh noodles and 15-second kitchen-to-table rule. Customers fill out forms (available in English)...

Top ChoiceHomewares in Shimabara

Inohara Kanamono-ten

Dating from the 1850s and a registered cultural property, this busy, rustic blade shop is filled with incredible knives, hatchets, swords and even ninja shuriken (throwing stars), plus just about anything you...

Top ChoiceJapanese in Fukuoka

Hakatarou

If you can't visit the rest of Kyūshū, try regional foods at this elegant izakaya. Look for dishes like karashi renkon (spicy, deep-fried lotus root) and basashi (horsemeat sashimi) from Kumamoto, grilled...

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...