is the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, and is well
known for its mild climate, volcanic landscape, great hot springs
and ceramics. The gateway to Kyushu, Fukuoka
(Hakata) is revered for its traditional textile
and doll-making industries, its delicious cuisine and for the nearby
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, a very busy place of worship
where students flock to pray to the god of learning.
Situated on Kyushu’s west coast, Nagasaki
was among Japan’s earliest foreign ports and is well known
for Arita and Imari ceramics
and for the Peace Park which commemorates the destruction
caused by the second nuclear bomb of World War II.
Additional well known attractions include Chinatown,
the Chinese Temple and Glover House,
thought to be the location that inspired Puccini’s
opera Madame Butterfly. Nearby Mount Unzen,
an active volcano, is also a famous hot spring resort. Kumamoto
is an old castle town and gateway to the scenic beauty of the Mount
Aso National Park.
Located south of the island, the seaport of Kagoshima
is overshadowed by the intriguing smoking cone of Sakurajima
volcanic island. Nearby Ibusuki Spa, situated on
the southern tip of Kyushu, has some of the most famous hot springs
in Japan and is revered for its hot-sand saunas. Summer whale
and dolphin watching tours operate from the town of Kasasa.
Beyond Kagoshima is the beautiful, mountainous island of Yakushima,
a National Park famous for its primeval cedar forests
and hiking trails.
Miyazaki, located on Kyushu’s southeastern coast,
is a prosperous modern city well known for its
palm trees, golf courses and ancient burial mounds. The
Beppu hot spring resort, close to the city of Oita,
is lots of fun in spite of its slightly sleazy atmosphere. Dozens
of hotel and bathing complexes compete for business by offering
everything from amusement parks and sports facilities to gardens,
museums, and shopping arcades.