Panda Picks: The Top Things To See And Do In Kyushu, Japan | From Nagasaki To Mount Aso

Kyushu, Japan – As the south-westernmost of Japan’s main islands, I had been to Kyushu island thrice strictly speaking (including my trip to Okinawa Prefecture). There is much nature and food to offer in this part of Japan, though it is not as popular for Singaporeans in general as compared to Honshu island. Here are some of the highlights of Kyushu in my opinion if you are planning a trip there!


From Fukuoka International Airport, it is about an hour plus drive to the town of Yufuin, famous for its pictureques streets, Mt Yufuin and onsen. I recommend half a day in Yufuin if your itinerary is quite packed, as the main street with little shops and eateries can be covered thoroughly well within the day. Otherwise, it is also nice to stay overnight at a reasonably good ryokan to enjoy the onsen and meals prepared by your ryokan, like I did.


Located in Oita prefecture, Beppu is famous for its hot springs, as well as the eight hells or Jigoku, which feature a myriad of colours of hot underground boiling water. From Yufuin, it is less than two hours by car to get to Beppu, which I think is the best way to get around the city as well as the eight hells, which are not all within walking distance. Another highlight of my Beppu trip was cooking my own dish such as eggs and sweet potato using hot underground steam in the old town area.


I read about this place too often in our history books, but walking the grounds of Nagasaki will bring a very different perspective. The locals continue to mark the atrocity every morning at 11:02am, and the spot to experience this solemn memorial is at the Hypocenter Cenotaph, located just between the Nagasaki Peace Park and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Strong Chinese influence in the city due to its proximity to China, Nagasaki played its role as an important trading hub between the two countries. Make sure you plan for a lunch in the city, and try the famous Nagasaki Champon, which will remind Singaporeans of our own Sheng Mian (aka Crispy Noodles).


Kurokawa Onsen
Kurokawa Onsen is one of my favourite onsen region in Japan. Located about an hour drive from Mt Aso, it is the kind of quint onsen town which is thankfully not touristy yet. The key activity at Kurokawa Onsen is without a doubt onsen hopping. There is a regular onsen day pass which you can purchase from the main tourist office, where you get to experience three different onsens from the list of ryokans. After a day of onsen hopping, the best thing for me is the kaiseki style dinner at our ryokan, where you get to savour some Kyushu specialities such as Horse sashimi.



Mount Aso
One of the most active volcanoes in Japan, Mount Aso is also one of the most popular attractions in Kyushu as you can get up close to to the crater. It is located in Aso Kujū National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture, and is easily accessible by car. The tricky situation arises when the weather is bad, or if the active volcano poses a danger to visitors. Do check the official website for the daily forecast before heading down.


Takachiho Gorge
The public transport system in Kyushu is relatively undeveloped in my opinion, so getting to Takachiho Gorge can be challening if you do not drive. I stayed overnight at a nearby town in Takachiho, where I made our way to Takachiho Gorge area the next morning by car. The highlight at the gorge is the 17m Minai-no-taki Waterfall, which is best experienced by renting a paddle boat. It was fun paddling towards the waterfall though navigating the boat can prove to be challenging at some points. Other than the waterfall, do take a walk around the gorge area to admire the cliffs and natural sights within the park.


Located in the South of Kyushu, Kagoshima is one of the big cities in this region, well-known for its landmark and resident volcano, Sakurajima. There is daily ferry service from Kagoshima mainland to Sakurajima, where you are literally at the foot of the volcano mountain. There are a couple of lookout points on Sakurajima where you can hike to for a good view of the volcano. Food wise, if you love Tonkatsu, don’t miss trying the Kagoshima Kurobuta (Black Pig) which is so ultra tender.


I ventured to Yakushima mainly because it was off the beaten track from the usual Kyushu itinerary, an island off the south east coast of Kyushu about two hours by the fastest ferry service from Kagoshima. Famous for its yakusugi or cedar forests, we virtually experienced all four seasons in a day on the island, well-known with a reputation for its 365 days of rainfall. One of the key area to trek on Yakushima is the Shiratani Unsuikyo forest, where a few hours trail leads to the part of the forest which inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s anime movie Princess Mononoke. Getting around by car is the easiest around this UNESCO World Heritage island, as there is only one main road around the entire island. If you are not into nature walks and trekking, it is quite pointless to visit Yakushima in my opinion.


Ranted by The Ranter

About theRantingPanda (2020 Articles)
of blacks and whites and everything else | singapore | food reviews, lifestyle & travel

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