Kyushu

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Kyushu - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Glover Garden

    This garden contains an impressive assortment of 19th-century Western houses. Greco-Roman porticoes and arches, wooden verandas, and other random elements of European architecture adorn the...

    This garden contains an impressive assortment of 19th-century Western houses. Greco-Roman porticoes and arches, wooden verandas, and other random elements of European architecture adorn the structures, which are often crowned with Japanese-style roofs. The main attraction is the 1863 mansion of Thomas Glover, a prominent Scottish merchant who introduced steam locomotives and industrial coal mining to Japan. Escalators whisk you up the steep hillside to the gardens, where you can admire the views of Nagasaki and the harbor.

    8--1 Minami Yamate-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, 850-0931, Japan
    095-822–8223

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥620
  • 2. Kumamoto Castle

    The towering, ominous castle was completed in 1607, having been designed and built by Kiyomasa Kato (1562–1611), the area's feudal lord or daimyo. Gracefully curved,...

    The towering, ominous castle was completed in 1607, having been designed and built by Kiyomasa Kato (1562–1611), the area's feudal lord or daimyo. Gracefully curved, white-edged roofs rest atop the mysterious black keep. Look for slanted windows perfect for unleashing rock falls, one of many clever features to prevent intrusion. The top floor of the reconstructed castle commands an excellent view of Kumamoto, and exhibits include samurai weapons and armor arrayed to evoke images of the fearless warriors charging into battle. Kumamoto Castle was damaged by the earthquakes in April 2016. The restoration of the Tenshukaku Tower was completed in 2021, with other reconstruction continuing. Elevated views of the castle can be seen from the Kumamoto Castle Hotel and City Hall.

    1--1 Honmaru, Kumamoto, Kumamoto-ken, 860-0002, Japan
    096-352–5900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥800
  • 3. Ama-no-Yasukawara Cave

    A dark but deeply spiritual place, this huge cave faces onto a small river. According to the local legends, the gods gathered here to figure...

    A dark but deeply spiritual place, this huge cave faces onto a small river. According to the local legends, the gods gathered here to figure out how to get Amaterasu out of her cave. Although not a Shinto practice, visitors now pile stones on top of each other to leave their wishes, with little stone piles creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

    Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki-ken, 882-1621, Japan

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 4. Amanoiwato Shrine

    This shrine is located near the cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu hid until Ame-no-Uzume managed to lure her out. If you apply at the...

    This shrine is located near the cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu hid until Ame-no-Uzume managed to lure her out. If you apply at the entrance, a Shinto priest will take you into the sacred precinct from where you can look across the valley towards the cave.

    1073–1 Iwato, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki-ken, 882-1621, Japan
    0982-74--8239

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 5. Artejio Museum

    From Yufuin Station, take a five-minute taxi ride north to Kuuso-no-Mori, a hamlet in the forest that is home to a community of art galleries...

    From Yufuin Station, take a five-minute taxi ride north to Kuuso-no-Mori, a hamlet in the forest that is home to a community of art galleries along the foot of Mt. Yufu. The Artejio Museum is a small modern art museum with a musical theme and minimalist vibe. The second floor has a library with books on art and music. Close by is the excellent Sansou Murata ryokan, the Yutaka Isozaki Gallery, and several cafés.

    1272--175 Kawakami, Yufuin, Oita-ken, 897-5102, Japan
    0977-28--8686

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥600, Closed Wed.
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  • 6. Aso Volcano Museum

    The Aso Volcano Museum on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the building is showing its age, and only a small percentage of the exhibits...

    The Aso Volcano Museum on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the building is showing its age, and only a small percentage of the exhibits have English descriptions. However, the video presentation in the five-screen multipurpose hall has subtitles and is an interesting introduction to vulcanology and the various giant calderas around the world. On the first floor a new visitors center and café has a lot of fascinating information in English and Japanese. The museum and visitor center is beside the Kusasenri parking lot and rest area.

    1930 Akamizu, Kagoshima-ken, 869-2232, Japan
    0967-34–2111

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥860
  • 7. Confucius Shrine and Museum

    This bright-red shrine was built in 1893 by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki. The small Historical Museum of China displays artifacts on loan from Beijing's...

    This bright-red shrine was built in 1893 by the Chinese residents of Nagasaki. The small Historical Museum of China displays artifacts on loan from Beijing's Palace Museum of Historical Treasures and National Museum of Chinese History.

    10--36 Oura-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, 850-0918, Japan
    095-824–4022

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥660
  • 8. Dejima

    When the government deported foreigners from Japan in the mid-17th century, Dutch traders were the only Westerners allowed to remain—but they were relegated to, and...

    When the government deported foreigners from Japan in the mid-17th century, Dutch traders were the only Westerners allowed to remain—but they were relegated to, and confined on, this artificial island in Nagasaki Harbor. Here you can see a 450-year-old mix of Dutch housing styles that is popular among Japanese tourists.

    6--3 Dejima-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, 850-0862, Japan
    095-821–7200

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥520
  • 9. Dutch Slope

    This cobblestone incline is a good place to wander on the way to Chinatown and Glover Garden. Dutch residents built the wooden houses here in...

    This cobblestone incline is a good place to wander on the way to Chinatown and Glover Garden. Dutch residents built the wooden houses here in the late 19th century. Many become shops and tearooms in summer. To get here, follow the street on the southeastern side of the Confucius Shrine.

    2 Higashiyamatemachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, Japan
  • 10. Hashima Island

    This small island of Hashima, 12 miles southwest from the Nagasaki Port, was a coal mine with bleak concrete apartment blocks for 5,000 workers. From...

    This small island of Hashima, 12 miles southwest from the Nagasaki Port, was a coal mine with bleak concrete apartment blocks for 5,000 workers. From the sea, the industrial development made the island appear like a giant battleship. In 1974, when the mine closed, the entire island was abandoned. From April 2009 the island became open to the public. Yamasa Shipping offers Gunkanjima Landing & Cruise twice-daily at 9 and 1. Gunkanjima was featured in the James Bond movie Skyfall, where it appeared as the headquarters of Bond's nemesis Raoul Silva.

    Takashimamachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, Japan

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥4,510 for ferry and entry
  • 11. Ibusuki Sunamushi Onsen Natural Sand Bath

    This laid-back seaside resort is at the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula and may provide your one chance to try a therapeutic hot-sand bath....

    This laid-back seaside resort is at the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula and may provide your one chance to try a therapeutic hot-sand bath. At the Sand Bath Hall "SARAKU", you buy your ticket and rent a yukata, or cotton robe—the small towel is yours to keep—on the second floor of the main hall. In the locker room you change into your robe before heading to the beach. Stand in line and wait for an assistant to call you over. You'll be buried in hot, mildly sulfur-smelling sand. Aside from providing a powerful dose of joint-penetrating heat, the stimulating, sweaty experience is guaranteed to cleanse your pores and soften your skin.

    5--25--18 Yu-no-hama, Kagoshima, Kagoshima-ken, 891-0406, Japan
    0993-23–3900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥1,100, plus ¥200 for a small towel rental
  • 12. Kirishima Shrine

    The original shrine was established in the 6th century, but the present imposing structure was built under the patronage of the Shimazu clan in 1715....

    The original shrine was established in the 6th century, but the present imposing structure was built under the patronage of the Shimazu clan in 1715. Wonderfully appointed and occupying an incredible setting, it has views as far away as Sakura-jima. The shrine, well worth a visit, is dedicated to Ninigi-no-mikoto, the legendary god who landed on the peak of Takachiho-no-mine nearby.

    2608--5 Kirishima-taguchi, Kirishima, Kagoshima-ken, 899-4201, Japan
    0995-57–0001

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 13. Kusasenri-ga-hama

    During summer, in this bowl-shaped meadow you'll find cows and horses grazing around a marshy pond on the lush grass. In early March the old...

    During summer, in this bowl-shaped meadow you'll find cows and horses grazing around a marshy pond on the lush grass. In early March the old grasses are burned, leaving the landscape looking desolate, but it allows fresh and tasty green grass to vigorously grow back. Depending on volcanic conditions, and if you have time, hike along an easy trail that goes 5½ km (3½ miles) around the base of Kijima-dake. It takes an hour or so, and provides excellent views of the otherworldly terrain. You could also march the 3 km (2 miles) straight across the rugged lava plain to the foot of Naka-dake. For several other trails in the area, pick up the "Aso Trekking Route Map" at the information center in JR Aso Station. In summer it is possible to sit on a horse and be led for a slow walk around the grassy meadow. It is a popular option for those who have never ridden a horse before.

    Akamizu, Aso, Kumamoto-ken, Japan
  • 14. Lake Kinrin

    In winter, steam rises from the surface of this small thermal lake on the east end of town. Take a relaxing 10-minute stroll around the...

    In winter, steam rises from the surface of this small thermal lake on the east end of town. Take a relaxing 10-minute stroll around the lake, before you sample the various cake and coffee sets at the local cafés.

    1561--1 Yufuincho Kawakami, Yufuin, Oita-ken, Japan
  • 15. Mt. Inasa Observatory

    One of Japan's famous romantic night views, the Mt. Inasa Observation Platform provides panoramic views of Nagasaki City, the local mountains and the coastline. Accessible...

    One of Japan's famous romantic night views, the Mt. Inasa Observation Platform provides panoramic views of Nagasaki City, the local mountains and the coastline. Accessible by the 1-km (½-mile) Nagasaki Ropeway with departures every 15 minutes.

    8--1 Fuchimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, Japan
    095-861--3640

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Observatory free; ropeway ¥730 one-way, ¥1,250 round-trip
  • 16. Mt. Takachiho

    This mountain is said to be where the goddess Amaterasu's grandson descended to Earth to establish the Japanese imperial family. Trouble is, the distant town...

    This mountain is said to be where the goddess Amaterasu's grandson descended to Earth to establish the Japanese imperial family. Trouble is, the distant town of Takachiho also claims that honor. The dispute has never been settled, either legally or spiritually. Mt. Takachiho is at the southern end of the Kirishima range, and a hike to the summit takes about three hours. On a clear day you can see the surrounding mountains in Kirishima National Park. Due to volcanic activity, particularly of Shinmoe-dake, some trails may be closed. Ask ahead of time at the Takachiho-gawara Visitor Center.

    2583--12 Kirishimataguchi, Kirishima, Kagoshima-ken, Japan
    0995-57–2505-visitor center

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 17. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

    The spiral staircase of this museum takes you down into a dark, thought-provoking collection of video loops, dioramas, and exhibits that demonstrate the devastating effects...

    The spiral staircase of this museum takes you down into a dark, thought-provoking collection of video loops, dioramas, and exhibits that demonstrate the devastating effects of the bomb detonated in Nagasaki. English audio tours are available, though what you see is already a lot to handle. The continuous, unblinking film footage is absolutely nauseating at several points, and a melted and blasted wall clock, as surreal as any Dalí painting, sears its way into your consciousness.

    7--8 Hirano-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, 852-8117, Japan
    095-844–1231

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥200 (optional audio guide ¥157)
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  • 18. Naka-dake

    For many visitors, the smoldering crater of Mt. Aso's Naka-dake is the highlight of a visit to the Aso-Kuju National Park. Inside the crater, a...

    For many visitors, the smoldering crater of Mt. Aso's Naka-dake is the highlight of a visit to the Aso-Kuju National Park. Inside the crater, a churning ash-gray lake bubbles and spits scalding, reeking steam. The Nakadake cable car was closed following an eruption for 2016. A shuttle bus from the parking area to the crater runs when there is limited volcanic activity, but this service was halted after the October 2021 eruption. If rumbling turns to shaking, and steam and smoke turn to sizable ash fall, there are bunker-like concrete shelters located across the area.

    808--5 Kurokawa, Aso, Kumamoto-ken, 869-2225, Japan
    0967-34–0411
  • 19. Ohori Park

    Chuo

    The lake in this park was once part of an impressive moat surrounding Fukuoka's castle. A leisurely 2-km (1-mile) path follows its perimeter. In early...

    The lake in this park was once part of an impressive moat surrounding Fukuoka's castle. A leisurely 2-km (1-mile) path follows its perimeter. In early April the pink-and-white flowers of the park's 2,600 cherry trees present a dazzling display. Within the park is the Fukuoka City Art Museum ( www.fukuoka-art-museum.jp), which houses a few notable works by Dalí, Miró, Chagall, and Warhol. It reopened after a major renewal in March 2019. Across from it is a traditional Japanese garden. Stop for a quick bite or a luxurious meal at Boathouse Ohori Park on the edge of the lake.

    1--6 Ohorikoen, Fukuoka, Fukuoka-ken, 810-0051, Japan
    092-741--8377-Japanese Garden

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Park free, museum ¥200, garden ¥250
  • 20. Oura Church

    This church below the entrance to Glover Garden survived the bomb that leveled much of the city. It was constructed in 1865 to commemorate the...

    This church below the entrance to Glover Garden survived the bomb that leveled much of the city. It was constructed in 1865 to commemorate the death of 26 Christians crucified in 1597, victims of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's gruesome message of religious intolerance. It's the oldest Gothic-style building in Japan.

    5--3 Minami Yamate-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken, 850-0931, Japan
    095-823–2628

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: ¥1,000

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