Ultimate Guide To Kyushu: Japan’s Third Largest Island

Many don’t realize that Japan contains nearly 7000 islands of which only 421 are inhabited. Each island has plenty to explore, from fascinating history, sightseeing, and people to meet. There are seven prefectures located on the island of Kyushu in Japan, which is the third-largest island in Japan. 

Kyushu is an ideal destination for tourists who want to learn about history and explore somewhere new, while also enjoying a mixture of modern amenities.

With Kyushu being one of the earliest places for the first Japanese settlers to arrive, there is a lot to learn, see, and immerse yourself into regarding this magnificent island. 

About Kyushu 

The name Kyushu roughly translates to nine provinces, as when Kyushu was first established, it was made up of nine provinces.

Those provinces have since been renamed and amalgamated into seven. The weather in Kyushu tends to run warmer than other islands.

kujuku Islands overlook in Sasebo, Kyushu

Kyushu also produces many goods, including rice, soy, silk, sweet potatoes, and tea. 

There were ancient civilizations and tribes that inhabited parts of Kyushu historically, including the Azumi peoples of Northern Kyushu. Today, the people who live throughout the island of Kyushu are known for being extremely kind and hospitable. 

Hot Springs

One of the most famous amenities that Kyushu has to offer is an expansive choice of hot springs. Kyushu has a vast array of mountains, some of which are active volcanoes, and so the island is a perfect location to set up natural hot spring baths or onsen. 

You can find a hot spring in Kyushu that meets your perfect expectations for relaxation and scenery.

Beppu Hot Spring Onsen Via Tripadvisor

Beppu Hot Spring Resort Town In Kyushu

You can find hot springs that offer spectacular views as you soak in the water’s benefits, find luxurious and modern hot springs, or hot springs with historical significance. 

Sitting in a hot spring is similar to being in a hot tub, but with many more potential health benefits. It is believed that the mineral-rich waters have properties that can help improve skin, relieve chronic pain symptoms, and improve circulation. 

The Prefectures And What They Offer 

There are things to see and do in each prefecture, so spending a few days on the island is recommended to be able to soak in as many memorable experiences as possible. 

Fukuoka Prefecture

Fukuoka perfectly marries nature and modern architecture, as it’s surrounded by water and mountains. The city of Fukuoka in this prefecture is also known for being a fascinating city, with friendly people and a plethora of shopping, markets, and delicious foods to enjoy. 

Fukuoka City Official Website

Fukuoka City Skyline

Fukuoka is also a great destination for learning, with the Kyushu National Museum and Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.

Japanese and Asian history are both two fascinating things to learn about, given that Japan has been a country for so long and has experienced so many changes across the centuries. 

Kyushu National Museum Official Website

Kyushu National Museum

Saga Prefecture

Saga has been known historically as the hub for trade, given that it’s so close to other Asian countries. Today, the prefecture still has a great reputation for its production of goods.

Saga is well-known for its porcelain and pottery production, making a perfect souvenir to bring home to remember your visit. 

Outside of its historical significance, Saga also offers plenty of sights to see for tourists. There is also a lot of natural beauty to behold, from rivers to a forest to mountains.

Takeo Onsen hot spring town

The Takeo Onsen comes highly recommended for being one of the oldest onsens. Yoshinogari Park and Yutoku Inari Shrine are two places filled with history and beauty as well. 

Nagasaki Prefecture

Nagasaki was also an important area for trade, given its proximity to the water. When trade by water was introduced to Japan, Nagasaki was one of the first areas to begin transporting goods by boat.

Nagasaki City Official Website

Nagasaki City Port Area

Today, you can still see remnants of old trading grounds, such as at Hirado, which used to be a trading post. 

Nagasaki also has a fantastic combination of natural beauty and industry. The Shimabara Peninsula offers a walkway that allows you to safely view the area close to an active volcano, where you can see the steam emanating from the ground.

Huis Ten Bosch Amusement Park Official Website

Huis Ten Bosch (theme park)

Huis Ten Bosch is also a great stop, being an amusement park with lots of fun things to do, all modeled after a Dutch town. 

Kumamoto Prefecture 

Kumamoto Prefecture is the ultimate destination on Kyushu for nature lovers. The prefecture is breathtaking, and many of their spots for tourists to enjoy are surrounded by nature.

For instance, the Aso Volcano is located here, which is known for having the largest crater of any volcano in the world. 

Kumamoto City Official Website

Mount Aso Active Volcano

Kumamoto city is also known for its breathtaking castle, which is surrounded by cherry blossom trees. The Kurokawa Onsen is also one of the most stunning areas to enjoy a hot spring bath. 

Oita Prefecture

Oita Prefecture is the place to go when you want to see rural elements that have been unchanged for modern times.

Oita is also the ultimate stop for hot springs, being that they have multiple hot spring towns dedicated to the relaxing practice. 

Beppu Onsen Town Via ANA Website

Beppu City

Oita is also home to Beppu, one of the most famous hot springs in Japan that is worth a stop. There are also some spas sprinkled around the Beppu area, making Oita the perfect prefecture to visit when you need a day of pampering and rejuvenation. 

The Kunisaki Peninsula and Usuki are also two stops that are highly recommended to admire the incredible architecture and stonework on display. 

Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki is home to some important elements of Japanese mythology, as can be seen with the town of Takachiho.

It’s here where the goddess Amaterasu went into hiding to protect herself from her brother, subsequently leading many other gods and goddesses to come to the area in order to try and bring her home. 

Visit Miyazaki City Official Website

Miyazaki City

Additionally, Miyazaki offers some really awe-inspiring natural scenery to take in, especially since you’ll want to spend so much time outdoors given that the weather is so beautiful.

The Udo Shrine is an essential stop, combining a sacred spot situated near a cliff with sparkling blue water surrounding it. 

Udo Shrine

Kagoshima Prefecture 

This prefecture is also a top destination to explore for picturesque sights. There are several smaller islands that make up the prefecture, including Yakushima, filled with lush greenery and some of the oldest trees still thriving in Japan. 

Amami Oshima is another such island with stunning beaches and aquatic life to admire. Kirishima is a little different, being a volcanic range, so while it’s not surrounded by greenery, the mountainous region is still something to explore and appreciate. 

Amami Oshima Island

The Satsuma Peninsula is rich in culture and history, with hot springs that you can soak in after exploring the peninsula learning about the local attractions and tourist destinations.

For example, there’s the Chiran Samurai District that has been kept well-maintained since the day of the samurai. 

Chiran Samurai Residence Via Tripadvisor

Chiran, a stronghold of Shimazu samurai during Feudal Era

How To Get Onto The Island 

There is a railway connection from Honshu to Kyushu, known as the Kanmon Railway Tunnel. The Kanmon Bridge also connects Honshu to Kyushu.

Kanmon Bridge

Visit Kyushu Official Website

This is ideal to know if you are not planning on flying directly to Kyushu, or if you’re planning on visiting more than one region in Japan

Kyushu Map Via Google Maps

On the Kyushu island, there is also a fantastic transportation system that is known for taking you through beautiful scenery during your ride, and can easily take you between cities and prefectures.

Visit Kyushu Youtube Channel

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.