The Ultimate Guide to Kyushu (2023): Things to Do, What to Eat and More!

The Ultimate Guide to Kyushu (2023): Things to Do, What to Eat and More!

Here’s why Kyushu is a must-visit if you love all things Japan!

We bet you’re familiar with the usual suspects when it comes to Japanese getaways: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto.  But for our readers who love all things related to Japanese culture and travel, you might be on the lookout for something new to do at this beloved destination. And at the very southwestern end of Japan, you’ll find Kyushu

Given its strategic location, it has long held the title of being Japan’s gateway to the rest of East Asia. But today, it’s also known as a bustling tourist destination — with exciting activities, delicious local food, and breathtaking natural sights!

So, if you’re undecided on where to go on your next holiday to Japan, why not consider Kyushu? Let us give you a taste of what the island and its seven prefectures — Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima  — have in store for you! 

Also read: The Ultimate Travel Guide: 15 Things to Do in Kyushu for Your Next Trip

Everything about Kyushu by prefecture: Things to do

While there is a  whole roster of beautiful natural landscapes and interesting things to do in Kyushu, here’s some of the best of what each prefecture has to offer: 



Daizaifu Temangu Shrine (left); Kyushu National Museum (right) | Image credit (L-R): dazaifutenmangu.official Official Instragram Page; kyuhaku_koho Official Instagram Page

Fukuoka is the capital of Kyushu and one of the most populated cities in Japan. It boasts a wonderful mix of traditional and modern activities. 

There’s certainly tons of things to do in Fukuoka to learn about Japanese culture. The city is home to one of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines: The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. Dedicated to historical scholar and politician Michizane Sugawara, the shrine is extra crowded in the springtime as locals flock there to pray for success in their entrance exams. If you visit during this season, do check out the Kyokusui Banquet Festival, where festivalgoers dress like noblemen from thousands of years ago and partake in poetry readings and traditional dances. 

Fukuoka also houses the Kyushu National Museum, one of the four national museums  of Japan, which highlights Kyushu’s development as the cornerstone of trade between Japan, Europe, and Asia through its artifacts and exhibitions. And if you’re visiting in the summer, the Hakata Gion Yamakasa is an interesting festival that will become a highlight of your trip! Expect gigantic, elaborate floats being raced down the streets!

Team Lab Forest Fukuoka | Image credit: Team Lab Forest Fukuoka Official Website; uminonakamichiseasidepark Official Instagram Page

The city also boasts amazing sights, whether natural or man-made. The Team Lab Forest Fukuoka is a top tourist spot for its incredible immersive technology and captivating photo spots. Moreover, the Umi no Nakamichi Seaside Park features a superb rotation of beautiful seasonal flowers which draws in visitors throughout all seasons. The Sea of Mirrors and Shiratio Waterfall are two highly sought-after destinations by nature lovers. Nonetheless, these are all great places to take some beautiful photos. 

Things to eat in Fukuoka

When in Fukuoka, true-blue foodies simply must try some of the city’s most popular signature dishes. Right at the top of the list are tonkotsu ramen, a hearty bowl of ramen served with in a favourful broth, and steamed eel, a rice bowl mixed with sweet soy sauce and topped with grilled eel before being steamed together. Simply delicious!



Traditional Japanese ceramic cups sold in Arita | Image credit: str_ngi via Canva Pro

Located in the northwest region of Kyushu, Saga is primarily known for being the birthplace of ceramics in Japan. But, the city also features beautiful natural landscapes and cultural landmarks that are not to be missed!

In Saga — more specifically, the Arita, Imari, and Karatsu areas— you’ll find some of the country’s most stunning pottery pieces!  Join a specialised porcelain tour that takes you to key pottery-making locations, where you’ll learn about how they’re made, take part in pottery workshops, and of course — buy some of the finest pieces to take home with you! Immersing yourself in the ceramic heritage is one of the best things to do in Saga!

Minefuneyama Rakuten Gardens | Image credit: ROMIXIMAGE via Canva Pro

When it comes to natural scenery, Mountain Mifune looks like a scene straight out of a movie! Located at the foot of this mountain is the picturesque Minefuneyama Rakuen Gardens. From cherry trees in spring to red camellias in winter, the gardens are vibrantly coloured all-year-round, drawing visitors to retreat here. Additionally, Adventure Valley Saga promises thrilling activities, with zip lines and mountain bike rides in the historical town of Yoshinogari. 

Saga Castle | Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

Fall in love with Japanese history and architecture with some of Saga’s top attractions. The Yutokuinari Shrine is one of Japan’s top three inari shrines, with many making their way there to pray for prosperity and wealth. Moreover, the Saga Castle features a reconstructed hall that displays the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration. Otherwise known as the Saga Castle History Museum, this unique museum will give you a sense of what life was like in Saga during this historical period. 

Ureshino-Onsen Shoen | Image credit: Ureshino-Onsen Shoen Official Website

Amongst Kyushu’s many onsens, Saga’s Ureshino Onsen is a top spot for beauty gurus for its spring waters which are said to have skin-smoothing properties. This is perfect for those looking for some proper pampering on their trip, and definitely one of the top things to do in Saga!

Things to eat in Saga

This city boasts the freshest squid. You’ll be able to find local restaurants and markets selling this delicacy Ikizukuri-style, which is preparing the sashimi while it’s still alive. For the more adventurous eaters, do not miss out on Saga’s Ikizukuri squid; locals say it’s the best squid you’ll ever have!



Battleship Island | Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

Located along the west coast of Kyushu island, Nagasaki has some beautiful coastal views. Battleship Island in particular is known for its mysterious atmosphere. A coal mine that was abandoned in the 1970s, this island is now a top tourist attraction, with several sightseeing tours available! It was even featured in the 2012 James Bond movie, Skyfall. Doing a boat tour to this attraction is certainly one of the top things to do in Nagasaki!

Nagasaki Port night skyline | Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

In addition, Nagasaki Port also has an amazing view of the city and sea ahead, especially at night when the buildings are lit up! Head over to Mount Inasa’s observation deck for a panoramic view of the city’s night landscape — there’s just some magical about that view. Speaking about lights, the city is particularly lively during Chinese New Year for the Nagasaki Lantern Festival. Expect countless lanterns and large illuminated displays, as well as impressive performances such as acrobatics, lion dances, and even an incredible mask-changing show! 

Obama Onsen | Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Board Official Website

Along the coast of Tachibana Bay, Obama Onsen gets especially crowded in the evenings as visitors try to catch the beautiful sunset views while indulging in Japan’s longest footbath. Interestingly, this 105-metre-long footbath’s water temperature is also set at 105 degrees — giving rise to the footbath’s name: Hot Foot 105 in Japanese! So, to those who aren’t afraid of a little heat: Why not dip your toes here? 


Huis Ten Bosch | Image credit: huistenbosch_official Official Instagram Page

Nagasaki’s Unzen Mounting Nitta Pass is a tourist mecca all year round, with seasonal flowers in bloom. The area is a true embodiment of springtime, as the mountain is covered in approximately 10,000 Miyama Kirishima azaleas. This cheerful sight attracts numerous visitors from mid- to late-May. And at the city’s Huis Ten Bosch, you’ll be able to find sprawling tulip gardens in this recreated Dutch Town, along with picturesque windmills and canals. Undeniably, flower lovers will love the range of things to do in Nagasaki.

Things to eat in Nagasaki

When you’re in Nagaski, you’ll certainly spot numerous local shops and restaurants selling Sasebo burgers. This huge, American-inspired burger was first created in the 1950s. But today, each restaurant has its own unique spin on the dish. Some adding grilled pork belly and avocados into the burger.


Mount Aso | Image credit: ArttyPhoto via Canva Pro

Apart from their internationally-loved mascot, Kumamon, Kumamoto is known for the famous Mount Aso. Visitors can easily get to Nakadake, one of the five mountains that make up this huge active volcano. Apart from hiking, the city boasts tons of exciting activities. Go white water rafting along the exciting, multi-terrain Kuma River. Or have a fun afternoon on the coasters at Greenland, where you’ll be able to find the longest roller coaster in Japan and the first hanging coaster in Kyushu! Truly, there are so many so many things to do in Kumamoto for thrill-seekers!

Samurai live demonstration (left); Float parade at Yatsushiro Myoken Festival (right) | Image credit (L-R): Kumamoto Tourism Board Official Website; Kumamoto Japan Tourism Official Facebook Page

And the excitement doesn’t stop there! You can catch a live Sumari demonstration with an acrobatic show to boot! Watching these performances presented against a backdrop of the Kumamoto Castle, will make you feel as if you’ve travelled back in time to the Kamakura period. The Yatsushiro Myoken Festival is also a must-attend event in the fall. Expect gorgeous floats, parades, and traditional dance performances! Don’t miss out on the fireworks and lantern dance performances that await at the illuminating Yamaga Lantern Festival that occurs in the summer, too!

Great Cherry Blossom Tree in Isshingyo | Image credit: Japan Tourism Board Official Website

Kumamoto is also a sought-after dolphin-watching spot, along with its innumerable natural landscapes. Regardless of the season, you’ll find untouched natural landscapes in various parts of the city. Cherry blossom trees in Isshingyo, beautiful gorges and deep pools in the Kikuchi Ravine, fields of Cosmo flowers at the Shichijyo Furusato Cosmos Festival, and a collection of native plants to Aso at Higotai Park! These views are unbelievably rejuvenating! 

Things to eat in Kumamoto

Kumamoto’s top regional delicacy and one of the more interesting things to eat in Kyushu is definitely the Basahi, otherwise known as horse meat sashimi. Two other must-try dishes are hell-steamed chicken; cooked for over two hours using steam from the hot springs, and Dago soup; a comforting miso broth with handmade dumplings and seasonal vegetables. 


Beppu | Image credit: Sean Pavone via Canva Pro

Known for its hot springs, Oita is a must-visit for those who want to experience Japan’s unique onsen culture. Beppu is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan with eight different hot springs — you’re simply spoiled for choice! Alternatively, Yufuin is another popular hot spring resort, with cafes, shops, and mini art studios. It has practically everything you’ll need, you won’t even need to leave the resort. You’ll also find a popular spring water spot in the Mount Kuju area, the Oike Pond in particular being one of Japan’s top 100 spring waters! 

Ryumon Falls | Image credit: stoickt via Canva Pro

By far one of the most exciting things to do in Oita is to go down the water slide at Ryumon Falls. This two-tiered natural waterslide is 40-metre wide with a thrilling 20-meter drop. So, this spot is an especially popular spot for families in the summer, and for tourists for its autumn landscape. 

Traditional Hita Dolls | Image credit: kanzilyou via Canva Pro

Moreover, Oita hosts the Tenryo Hita Doll Festival, an eye-catching event that showcases the artistry of traditional Hina dolls. During the festival period, traditional Hina doll setups are found in various spots in the city. These dolls are inspired by the lifestyle of the wealthy, ancient Japanese — from the clothing they wore to the items they used. A great place to start your tour of the Hina dolls would be at Mameda-machi and Kuma-machi, as well as the Hirose Museum

Things to eat in Oita

Oita is most known for their Jigoku Mushi cuisine. This cuisine’s main feature is steaming seafood and vegetables using hot spring steam to bring out its freshness. This is certainly one of the healthier regional delicacies in Kyushu, and some restaurants even have a cooking workshop that takes you through this fascinating process. Moreover, their Beppu cold noodles is a particularly popular dish in the winter. The noodles are served in sour soup, a perfect comfort dish for those colder weathers.



Saitobaru Burial Mound Site | Image credit: kuppa_rock via Canva Pro

Along the eastern coast of Kyushu, Miyazaki is one of the cities with the prettiest views. Kirishima Geo Park is a large mountainous range that straddles both Kagoshima and Miyazaki. It has over 20 volcanoes and a diverse range of flora and fauna. But we’d recommend climbing up to the highest peak of Mount Karakuni to get the best, unobstructed view of this geopark. The Saitobaru Burial Mound Site is a hilly and breezy area with beautiful flower fields. It features 300 tombs, many of which belong to ancient warriors and clan leaders. But beyond its historical significance, the site is well-loved for its sprawling flower fields — especially in the springtime. During the cherry blossom season, the cherry blossoms and rapeseed blossoms bloom together, creating an incredible contrast of pinks and yellows. 

Takachiho Farm | Image credit: takachiho_bokujou Official Instagram Page

Many of the fun things to do in Miyazaki hinges on its natural beauty. Expect panoramic views of the gorges and mountains of Ebino Highlands. As you hike through the dense forest landscapes, be on the lookout for friendly Ebino deer. At the foot of the Kirishima Mountain range, you’ll find the Takachiho Farm, one of the most beautiful sightseeing farms. Apart from feeding the adorable domestic animals of the farm, there are tons of things to do here — from cow milking to horse riding!

Even the onsens take advantage of Miyazaki’s lush scenery! The Shiratori Onsen, in particular, is located along the Ebino Kogen mountainside. Enjoy the sounds and sights of the lush forest on the mountain while you soak in the open-air baths. Now, that sounds like a completely relaxing experience!

Things to eat in Miyazaki

When it comes to fresh seafood, all the locals in Miyazaki would recommend getting Ise ebi! This spiny lobster can be prepared by frying, roasting, and even sashimi-style! They’re especially abundant in the winter months, so do try them if you’re coming in October to April. 


Sakurajima | Image credit: yumenomatayume via Canva Pro

Looking for more volcanos to explore? Kagoshima, located at the southwestern tip of Kyushu, holds the famous active volcano: Sakurajima. As one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, it is constantly smoking. In fact, minor eruptions often take place multiple times a day. You can get there via ferry or car to soak in one of their many foot baths, or trek along their hiking trails! Spending a day here is definitely one of the best things to do in Kagoshima.  


Dolphin show at Kagoshima Aquarium | Image credit: Kagoshima Aquarium Official Website

The Kagoshima Aquarium is a top place to visit, with stunning tanks featuring Kyushu’s local marine life. And while you’re there, catch one of the three daily dolphin shows at the Dolphin Pool! Additionally, the Kirishima Shrine is an important cultural landmark in Kagoshima. Despite being established in the sixth century, the main shrine hall is still well-preserved and beautifully-vermillion lacquered — it is truly a pinnacle of Japanese architecture.

Ibusuki Natural Sand Bath | Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Board Official Website

Moreover, Kagoshima is the perfect place to decompress from the stresses of life with its natural attractions with beautifying or healing properties! Head to Ibusuki Natural Sand Bath for a detoxifying sand bath. The hot sand is said to cure ailments like asthma and rheumatism, while also moisturising the skin and improving blood circulation. Additionally, pamper your skin with a mud bath at either the Sakura-sakura Onsen or Doroyou Onsen, whilst enjoying the untouched natural scenery around you. 

After your self-care treatments, treat yourself to the amazing sights Kagoshima has to offer. The Nishi-Oyama train station is especially picturesque in summer when the large sunflower fields are in bloom. For autumn visitors, dropping by Tarumizu to view the ginkgo trees is a must. The thousand or so ginkgo trees planted there boast various shades of yellow, creating a cosy atmosphere during that time!

Things to eat in Kagoshima

A must-try dish in Kagoshima is their satisfying On Tamaran Bowl. This ricebowl is topped with locally produced mountain vegetables and seafood. Plus, the onsen egg added right on top is cooked with hot spring water. Additionally, sweet-tooths have to try Shirokuma (meaning “polar bear” in Japanese). This sweet shaved ice dessert is topped with fruits and condensed milk. As the dish is named “polar bear” in Japanese, expect some of them to be shaped like adorable cartoon bears!

How to get to Kyushu

As the gateway to Kyushu, Fukuoka Airport in the city’s capital is highly busy throughout the year. And Singaporean travellers will be delighted to hear that it only takes approximately 6 hours to fly from Singapore to Kyushu!


Image credit: Chris Putnam via Canva Pro

Within the city, several trains are used for various purposes. You have your limited express trains, which boast a variety of seating options, superb cabin interior designs, and stunning views. The newly-established Two Stars 4047 offers a breathtaking coastal view of Western Kyushu while taking passengers to Saga and Nagasaki. There are also several unique trains specifically designed for sightseeing rides. From vintage trains that are over 100 years old to trains that take you to special sightseeing destinations — boarding a train can be loads of fun in Kyushu! And if you’re doing some city-hopping on your trip, there’s always the handy JR Kyusyu Rail

Kyushu also has an amazing bus system — whether it’s the highway buses or city buses, you’ll be able to access them with a SUNQ Pass, which allows for unlimited rides on almost all of them. (And even ferries!) Plus, those who are planning to do a road trip through Kyushu can get the Kyushu Expressway Pass, which allows for unlimited driving on the Kyushu Expressway. 

Also read: 21 Unique Things to Do in Japan That You Can’t Do Anywhere Else

And there you have it! This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all things Kyushu — but hopefully, we’ve managed to convince you why this is the hottest Japanese destination to visit!

Brought to you by Kyushu Tourism Organization

Featured image credit: SeanPavonePhoto via Canva Pro

About Author

Beautrice Oh
Beautrice Oh

Beautrice enjoys exploring new places and jumps at any chance to try something new. She loves learning about different cultures through their food, landmarks, and hidden local spots (if she can find them)! Always enthusiastic for an adventure, she plans itineraries that fully immerse herself in the destination’s culture, and will never forget to bring along her camera to capture the memories.