Top Things to Do in Kyushu: What to See, Do, and Eat on Your Next Trip

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

Home to nine active volcanoes.

Although most travellers may think of mainstream cities like Tokyo and Hokkaido when planning a trip to Japan, there are plenty of hidden gems in Kyushu! While we’re all for familiarity and sticking to places we love, it would be a mistake to overlook this beautiful paradise. Known as the gateway between Japan and the rest of the world, Kyushu is an island filled with a rich culture and diverse natural wonders. 

Also read: 11 Underrated Destinations in Japan That Are Worth Discovering

With its many active volcanoes, beaches, and natural hot springs, the southwesternmost of Japan’s main islands is bustling with activity. The exciting blend of tradition and modernity offers many experiences that will fill up even the densest itinerary. 

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

TripZilla had the pleasure of attending a seminar hosted by Kyushu Tourism Organization. Presented by Mr George Lim, Visit Japan Ambassador, the seminar immersed us in the many wonders of Kyushu. With their help, we’ve put together a list of the best places to visit across the seven prefectures of Kyushu! 

Visit Kyushu

What to do in Fukuoka

1. Admire the cherry blossoms at Maizuru Park

Maizuru Park was built around the Fukuoka Castle Ruins and is famous for being a prominent cherry blossom viewing spot in Kyushu. The park features vast open spaces dotted with a wide variety of colourful flowers and plants. To get the most out of this Kyushu attraction, we strongly recommend visiting in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. Don’t forget to take a few photos while you’re there! 

Image credit: zairon

You can even bring along food and drinks to enjoy a picnic amidst the cherry blossoms! For those looking to burn some calories, check out the athletic field and the many sporting facilities the park has to offer.

2. Join a sustainable tour at Famnic Experience

Image credit: GLOCAL PROJECT CO.,Ltd / Fukuoka YOKA NAVI

Located on the outskirts of Fukuoka, the Kitazaki district is a treasure trove of rich natural ingredients! Agriculture and fishing are a way of life for its locals. As such, a local farmer’s group initiated the Famnic Experience to emphasise the region’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). 

By creating a recyclable fertilizer without the use of pesticides or chemicals, Kitazaki aims to preserve the lives of the locals. By joining the Famnic Experience, you’ll get to learn about the region’s sustainability plans firsthand! 

Image credit: GLOCAL PROJECT CO.,Ltd / Fukuoka YOKA NAVI

You can harvest mustard greens, beetroots, and other vegetables in the field. Then, enjoy these fresh, delicious vegetables for lunch. You’ll get to contribute to the local community by planting potatoes too!

What to do in Saga

3. Go treasure hunting at Kouraku kiln

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Located in the small town of Arita, Kouraku kiln is a porcelain factory with a long history. Known as the birthplace of pottery in Japan, Arita pioneered pottery-making, producing porcelain for around 400 years. Kouraku kiln aims to carry on this tradition. Priding itself on “naturalness, authenticity, and creativity”, the company is known for its refined porcelain-making techniques. The result is a wide variety of high-quality and unique products!

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

You’ll definitely want to join their Treasure Hunting experience. Due to the surplus and unsold products, the factory has placed these porcelain products in a massive warehouse boasting over 100,000 treasures! 

Venturing into the depths of a warehouse filled with Japanese dishware is a truly unique experience! Whether you’re a thrifter or an aficionado of porcelain art, visiting this factory should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Kyushu.

4. Pay a visit to Yutoku Inari Shrine

Image credit: Kimberrywood via Canva Pro

No visit to Kyushu is complete without visiting a shrine. In Japanese history, inari shrines are built to worship Inari, the Shinto gods of prosperity and fertility. Today, the inari shrines retain their significance in Japanese tradition and are frequented by locals and tourists alike. Out of the 30,000 shrines located throughout Japan, Yutoku Inari Shrine stands out as one of the three greatest inari shrines. 

Image credit: Kimberrywood via Canva Pro

The gorgeous Yutoku Inari Shrine is located on a mountain slope. Before climbing the steps to the main hall, we recommend you visit Iwasaki Shrine, a sub-shrine dedicated to the god of matchmaking. Then, take the 117 steps up to the main hall that houses the three inari. At the top, you’ll be greeted by panoramic views of the Ariake Sea and the city!

What to do in Nagasaki

5. Stay in Kaiju Yagura, Hirado Castle

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Have you ever wondered how it’d feel to live in feudal Japan? Well, a trip to Kyushu should satisfy that curiosity! Hirado Castle in Nagasaki offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture of Hirado City through a luxurious castle stay. This historic hilltop fortress overlooks the bay and is surrounded by a stunning natural moat. Initially constructed by the warlord Matsura Shigenobu, he burned down the castle in 1613 after losing the Battle of Sekigahara.

The interior of the castle, designed with locally sourced raw materials, incorporates many traditional Japanese stylings like wooden floorings and furnishings. Coupled with intricate wall paintings, the castle weaves history with modern aesthetics. Guests will be staying at Kaiju Yagura, a tower with a magnificent view of the ocean and Hirado Bridge. While staying at the castle, guests can engage in traditional activities like ancient martial arts and zazen meditation. Undoubtedly, Hirado Castle is a highlight of any trip to Kyushu!

6. Have a delicious bowl of Somen noodles

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Somen noodles are long and thin white noodles that are a summertime favourite in Nagasaki. To create the chewiness of the noodles, the dough is rested and pulled over and over until they are as thin as threads. Despite appearances, the noodles are sturdy and do not break apart in water. The laborious preparation creates a special texture that you can relish in every bite!

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Often served cold, this unique delicacy is a refreshing and healthy option sure to provide respite from the heat. A must-try on your trip to Kyushu!

Visit Kyushu

 What to do in Miyazaki

7. Eat meat and drink shochu with Miyakonojo’s “Meat Tourism” campaign

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

If you’re a meat lover, you’ll definitely want to add this to your list of things to do in Kyushu. Miyazaki prefecture is known for being the pinnacle of Japan’s beef, pork, and chicken industry, serving some of the finest produce in all of Japan. Wanting to show off the high-quality meat of the region, locals have initiated a campaign they call “Meat Tourism.”

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

The campaign encourages tourists to enjoy the region’s delicious food and drink while engaging in various cultural and natural experiences. With dozens of local eateries participating, you’ll be able to eat meat while enjoying shochu, a locally-made alcoholic beverage, across Miyazaki prefecture!

8. Marvel at the picturesque Udo-jingu Shrine

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Perched atop a steep cliff overlooking the ocean lies the spectacular Kyushu attraction, Udo-jingu Shrine. Upon entering the shrine’s main entrance, you’ll be greeted by some small red shrine gates that are perfect for taking photos! Then, take the stairs down to explore the unique cave shrine. The statues and relics here represent the gods for safe delivery during birth, matchmaking, and childcare. Hence, many local couples can be seen visiting this special shrine.

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Once you’ve explored the caves, check out a little row of stalls nearby selling pebbles. Purchase some pebbles, make a wish, and try to throw them down the cliff into the hole below. 

Take note: for your wishes to come true, men must use their left hand and women must use their right!

What to do in Oita

9. Bask in the ambience of Yufugawa Gorge

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Lying along the Yufu River, which straddles Yufu City and Beppu City, is the Yufugawa Gorge: a 12-kilometre-long gorge famous for its natural beauty. The scenic wonder features many moss-covered rocks and numerous waterfalls.

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Although the passage through the gorge was damaged due to a cave-in caused by torrential rain and typhoon winds in 2017, it has since been fully repaired. Change into your most comfortable hiking attire, grab a camera, and prepare to be awed by this natural formation!

10. Head to Hita City to live out your anime fantasies

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

For avid anime fans, the Kyushu region also offers its fair share of anime attractions. Fans of the hit anime series Attack on Titan should certainly check out Hita City — the hometown of the manga’s creator, Hajime Isayama. Tour the town area of Mamedamachi to see the inspiration behind the anime!

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

To celebrate the anime’s 10th anniversary in 2019, the Attack on Hita Revitalization Conference embarked on a project to recreate the iconic Fall of Wall Maria scene in real life. A bronze statue of the story’s three main protagonists can be found in front of the Oyama Dam, which represents Wall Maria in the show. If you’re a die-hard anime fan, Hita City is one to cross off your bucket list of places to visit in Kyushu.

Also read: Guide to Kyushu’s Best Ramen, the Birthplace of Tonkotsu Ramen

What to do in Kumamoto

11. Go on a shopping spree at mio camino Amakusa

Image credit: mio camino AMAKUSA

What’s travelling without a little therapy? If you’re looking for a good place to shop in Kyushu, we’ve got you covered! mio camino Amakusa is a popular shopping complex located in Kamiamakusa City featuring multiple shopping and entertainment establishments. From gourmet food to souvenir shops, this complex has it all, making it one of the most popular places to visit in Kyushu.

Image credit: mio camino AMAKUSA

We strongly recommend you check out some of the local seafood barbeque restaurants that offer a stunning ocean view. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even try indoor rock climbing!

12. Go dolphin-watching

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

The vast blue sea between the Shimabara Peninsula and the northern point of the Amakusa Shimoshima Island is home to around 200 wild Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Due to the rich feeding grounds, these dolphins are present all year round, making it the perfect place to get up close and personal with them. In fact, dolphin-watching cruises guarantee a 99% chance of seeing these majestic mammals. On the off chance you didn’t manage to see one, you’ll get a free ticket to come again!

Keep your cameras ready as these dolphins can often be found swimming alongside boats. You don’t want to miss one of the most unique things to do in Kyushu.

Visit Kyushu

 What to do in Kagoshima

13. Canoe or kayak through Anami Mangrove Forest

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

In the south of Amami Oshima, Kagoshima, lies a grand forest chock-full of mangrove trees. Go on a kayaking or canoeing tour through this dense forest to soak in the surreal atmosphere. For the uninitiated, a tour guide will show you how to paddle, as well as teach you about the ecology of the mangroves while guiding you through the forest.

Enjoy a relaxing paddle through this natural Kyushu attraction as you observe the ebb and flow of the gentle water against the mangrove trees. If you’re lucky, you may even spot various wildlife!

14. Catch the sunset on Amami Oshima Island

Image credit: Kyushu Tourism Organization

Now you might be thinking, “I’ve seen plenty of sunsets in my life, why would this be any different?” We guarantee you’ve never seen one like this! A few days every year during the vernal and autumnal equinox, you’ll get the chance to witness a surreal sunset on Amami Oshima Island. Appropriately dubbed The Dragon’s Eye, the sunset — when viewed through the Gaganbana (Kaganbana) Tunnel bears an uncanny resemblance to the eye of a dragon! 

Unfortunately, there’s only a 20-30% chance of the sunset appearing. However, that makes catching a glimpse of The Dragon’s Eye even more rewarding. Just make sure you bring your camera along to immortalise this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

How to get around Kyushu

15. Travel via JR Kyushu Shinkansen

Image credit: “Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen KAMOME” Kyushu Railway Company

With so many attractions spread across the seven prefectures, you may be wondering: what’s the best way to get around Kyushu? While driving through the region is a smooth experience, we highly recommend you use the JR Kyushu rail pass for unlimited train rides on the JR Kyushu Shinkansen. The Shinkansen is a high-speed railway network that runs through evergreen forests and along the coast of the East China Sea. 

The Shinkansen is not only the most efficient way to travel, but it is also a unique experience you cannot miss on your trip to Kyushu!

And that concludes our list of the best things to do in Kyushu! While Kyushu might not always be the first destination that pops into mind in Japan, it certainly has plenty of exciting activities, uniquely beautiful sights, and delicious food to offer. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, and book your flight to Kyushu now!

Brought to you by Kyushu Tourism Organization.

About Author

Chow Cheng Yang
Chow Cheng Yang

Cheng Yang can often be found in his natural habitat — in his bed with a cup of coffee and a science-fiction novel. With his undying love for jazz music and old movies, he likes to think of himself as a bit of a hippie. When he's not busy with work or school, he spends his free time playing the guitar or practising calligraphy.