Although only a slender, kilometre-wide channel separates Kyushu from Honshu, the island is considered by most Japanese as a backwater. Yet its shores are where Buddhism and Christianity first entered the archipelago, along with knowledge of gunpowder and writing from China. This cultural cross-pollination also left in its wake a wealth of historic monuments, from samurai castles to ancient rock-cut shrines, set against a backdrop of lush, sub-tropical vegetation and volcanic peaks spewing ash and steam.
The intensely geothermal interior of Kyushu encompasses landscapes of almost surreal beauty. Bounded by wide horizons of snow-capped volcanoes, a vast, rolling grassland is broken by thickets of bamboo, flower-filled pastures and pretty farming villages. At its heart rises Mt Aso, one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, with a caldera measuring 80 miles (150km) in circumference.
Clouds of sulphurous steam belch from the blue-green lake hidden inside the summit cauldron of this smoking giant, whose rim you may be able to scale on foot, by car or via a ropeway to experience one of the country’s most dramatic panoramas.
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Kyushu Travel Highlights
Places to visit in Kyushu
With its spectacular setting on a deep blue bay facing a smouldering volcano, Kagoshima is one of Japan’s most alluring and exotic cities. The ranks of palm trees lining its streets attest to the mildness of the local climate – one of the ...
Not only is Mount Aso the biggest active volcano in Japan, but it ranks amongst the largest to be found anywhere in the world. The total circumference of the outer rim is no less than 128 kilometres and is served by a ropeway. It is not a...
One of Kyushu’s principal cities, Nagasaki has a long history of contact with mainland China and the West – a fact vividly reflected in its cosmopolitan architecture. Chinese Taoist temples, Confucian shrines and Catholic churches punctuat...
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