Kyushu, the southernmost region of Japan, enjoys sub-tropical humid climates and lots of rain. With 8 prefectures including the sunny beaches of Okinawa, there is endless fun to be had in Kyushu. From countless hot springs, active volcanoes (safe for visiting), mysterious shrines, cheery theme parks, and more.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Kyushu Area
  2. Best Attractions in Kyushu
  3. Kyushu is Home to Many Famous Stars
  4. Takeaway

Introduction to Kyushu Area

Kyushu, with kanji 九州, literally means 9 provinces or states. Historically Kyushu was made up of 9 old provinces, thus the reason for its name. The name doesn’t make as much sense in modern times with 8 prefectures including Okinawa that is separated from Japan mainland by the ocean.

All About Kyushu

The Kyushu Region consists of the following 8 prefectures:

For articles relating to Kyushu Region, check this tag:

#Kyushu

Historical Significance

It is said that Japan’s origins began in Kyushu. The mythical theory is that Emperor Jimmu, thought by many to be the first Emperor of Japan and a descendant of Sun Goddess Amaterasu, hailed from Kyushu. 

The truth, due to archaeological proof, is that the start of the prehistoric Yayoi period can be traced back to Kyushu where the Yayoi culture began. Many discoveries of ancient Yayoi pottery and other signs of civilization were uncovered in the Kyushu area.

Kyushu was also a huge cultural gateway for Japan thanks to its proximity to China and Korea. Some significant historical events include:

  • Kyushu being part of the Silk Road

  • Introduction of Buddhism

  • Introduction of Chinese writing

  • Introduction of rice cultivation techniques

  • Introduction of textiles, architecture, building, etc. techniques and styles

  • Migration of Korean and Chinese people 

  • Kyushu appearances in Chinese literature

  • Legends of Yamatai and Queen Himiko

  • and more.

※ Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., "The Yayoi period (c. 300 BCE–c. 250 CE)"
※ The Japan Society, "Kyushu, Gateway to Japan: A Concise History"

Best Attractions in Kyushu 

As the third largest Japanese island, there are plenty of places to visit in Kyushu. Here are just a small selection of the best:  

Beppu Hot Springs in Oita Prefecture

Beppu is a major tourist destination in Oita Prefecture. A tour of their 7 Hell Hot Springs - Jigoku Meguri is a must. Do note that these hot springs are for admiring only, absolutely no soaking. That’s not to say they don’t have excellent R&R hot spring relaxation facilities as well. Have a read of our dedicated article to find out more:

Tour of Beppu Hot Spring Town

Amanoiwato Shrine in Miyazaki Prefecture

A beautiful shrine that looks like it came straight out of Japanese folklore is Amanoiwate Shrine. It is dedicated to Sun Goddess Amaterasu and her famous legend wherein the world was covered in darkness after she hid herself away in a cave. 

To read more about the shrine and things to do in Miyazaki, check this out:

Embracing Miyazaki Prefecture

Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture

Not for the weak of heart, Sakurajima is an island accessible by ferry only off the coast of Kagoshima. Its highlight attraction? An active volcano that frequently spews volcanic ash over the island’s inhabitants. You read that right. There are still around 600,000 people, donning masks to avoid breathing in ash, living nearby the volcano. 

For more about Sakurajima, check the link below:

Visiting the Most Active Volcano in Japan, Sakurajima

Munakata Taisha in Fukuoka Prefecture

Munakata Taisha is the collective name for 3 sacred shrines, namely Okitsu-miya, Nakatsu-miya, and Hetsu-miya. The most mysterious of the 3 is Okitsu-miya as Okinoshima, the island where it rests upon, is forbidden to outside visitors. Only once a year on May 27, may 200 men be granted the opportunity to visit the island. They must abide by the strictest of rules or risk breaking the ultimate taboos, do not speak of what you’ve seen and do not bring anything back.

To find out more about UNESCO world heritage sites Munakata Taisha, we recommend this article:

Munakata Taisha and the Munakata Clan

Sanrio Harmonyland in Oita Prefecture

If you love Hello Kitty or any other Sanrio character (My Melody, Cinamoroll, Pompompurin, and more), then head on over to Sanrio Harmonyland. This outdoor theme park is dedicated to all things Sanrio. Compared to its Tokyo counterpart Puroland, Harmonyland is larger in scale with more rides including roller coasters, ferris wheel, boat rides, and more. It is also cheaper! 

Okawachiyama Village in Saga Prefecture

Saga Prefecture is renowned for its pottery as far back as the Edo period. Nearby pottery town Imari lies Okawachiyama, a village dedicated to the art of pottery. A visit to this quaint secluded village is akin to a walk through history with around 30 pottery workshops and shops that remain unchanged from the past. Fine details of porcelain tiles embedded in the walls and bridges goes to show how dedicated the villagers are to their way of life. Pottery from this village are priceless works of art known as Nabeshima-yaki. 

※ JNTO, "Okawachiyama Village"

Kyushu is Home to Many Famous Stars

Some big-name celebrities or famous people hail from Kyushu, here are some of them:

Ayumi Hamasaki

One of Japan’s most outstanding solo artists that has made it big in the international market is Ayumi Hamasaki. Aside from singing, her other activities include modelling, songwriting, dancing, and more.  

Kane Tanaka

At the age of 119 years old as at 2022, Kane Tanaka is recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest person living in the world. Born in 1903 at Fukuoka, she still resides in her hometown. 

She was originally planned to carry the Olympic torch for the recent Tokyo Olympics lighting ceremony but did not due to concerns of the ensuing pandemic. Not only has she witnessed 2 Japan Olympics in her life (1964 and 2021), she has also survived 2 bouts of cancer, 2 world wars, and 2 global pandemics. 

※ CNN, “Kane Tanaka, the world's oldest living person, turns 119”
※ Guinness World Record, “Oldest person living” “Oldest person living (female)

Hashimoto Kanna

Popular actress Hashimoto Kanna was born in Fukuoka on 3 February 1999. She started her entertainment career as a member of Japanese female idol group Rev. from DVL. She is currently focusing on her acting career. Her most famous roles include:

  • Izumi Hoshi in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun
  • Kagura in Gintama Live Action Movie 1 & 2
  • Kaguya Shinomiya in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Live Action Movie 1 & 2

Takeaway

Kyushu is one of Japan’s main islands with a long history that predates even what we know of Japan. Its strategic location contributed greatly to the growth of Japan’s traditions, religion, culture, history, and language, not to mention its own cuisine, tourism, and economy. What we’ve given you here is just a small sample of what Kyushu has to offer.

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