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Japan travel: 15 things to do in Kyushu

So many things to do in Japan, but you'll want to dedicate enough time to explore the southwestern part of the country, Kyushu.

Kyushu is the third-largest island in Japan and is located in the southwestern part of the country. It is one of the four main islands of Japan, along with Honshu (where Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima are), Hokkaido, and Shikoku.

The politically defined Kyushu region comprises the seven prefectures on the island of Kyushu—Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Oita, Saga, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima—and Okinawa prefecture to the south. Each prefecture has its own unique attractions and charm, making Kyushu a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists.

Click on photos for links to buy the rail passes!

JR KYUSHU RAIL PASS (North / South / All Kyushu area), from S$78.85

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JR KYUSHU RAIL PASS (North / South / All Kyushu area). (Photo: Klook SG)
JR KYUSHU RAIL PASS (North / South / All Kyushu area). (Photo: Klook SG)

Kyushu SunQ Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up), from S$57.99

Kyushu SunQ Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up). (Photo: Klook SG)
Kyushu SunQ Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up). (Photo: Klook SG)

There are many things to do in Kyushu that cater to a wide range of interests. Here are some popular activities and attractions you can explore on the island.

FUKUOKA

One of the most prominent cities in Kyushu is Fukuoka, which serves as the region's economic and cultural hub. Fukuoka offers a vibrant city atmosphere with modern shopping districts, bustling nightlife, and several historical sites. It is also famous for its delicious street food, particularly its Hakata-style tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen—think Ikkousha, Ippudo, and Ichiran—and yatai (food stalls).

1. Explore the vibrant city of Fukuoka

Fukuoka is known for its bustling shopping districts, such as Tenjin and Canal City. Take a stroll along the beautiful Ohori Park, visit Fukuoka Castle ruins, and indulge in delicious street food at the yatai.

Nakasu River Cruise Ticket in Fukuoka, from S$9.69

Nakasu River Cruise Ticket in Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Nakasu River Cruise Ticket in Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

2. Take a ride down the Yanagawa river

Famous for its picturesque canals and known as the Venice of Kyushu, Yanagawa offers scenic boat rides through historic waterways lined with beautiful cherry blossoms. Yanagawa is also known for its delicious freshwater eel cuisine and well-preserved samurai residences, providing a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture.

Day Tour of Dazaifu & Yanagawa River Cruise from Fukuoka, S$193.20

Day Tour of Dazaifu & Yanagawa River Cruise from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Day Tour of Dazaifu & Yanagawa River Cruise from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

3. Enjoy a day of history, art, and culture at Kyushu National Museum

Showcasing the rich history and diverse heritage of Kyushu, the Kyushu National Museum exhibits a wide range of artefacts, including ancient artworks, archaeological finds, and cultural treasures. It serves as a hub for cultural exchange and exploration of Kyushu's fascinating past.

Kyushu National Museum Admission in Fukuoka, S$6.79

Kyushu National Museum Admission in Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Kyushu National Museum Admission in Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

KUMAMOTO

Another notable destination in Kyushu is Kumamoto, known for its impressive Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan's most famous and well-preserved castles. The city also offers beautiful gardens, hot springs, and scenic mountains, such as Mount Aso, an active volcano and one of the largest calderas in the world. This is also where you’ll find many prints and collectibles of Kumamon, the prefecture’s black bear mascot.

4. See Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle is one of Japan's most famous and impressive castles. However, the castle sustained extensive damage during an earthquake in April 2016. Repair and restoration have since been ongoing, and are scheduled to complete by 2052.

Kumamoto Castle, and Kurokawa Onsen Day Tour from Fukuoka, S$115.95

Kumamoto Castle, and Kurokawa Onsen Day Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Kumamoto Castle, and Kurokawa Onsen Day Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

5. Enjoy nature in Aso

Aso is home to Mount Aso, one of the world's largest volcanic calderas. You can explore the Aso-Kuju National Park, hike to the crater, and admire the panoramic views. Or visit Kusasenri, a vast grassland area dotted with grazing cows.

2D1N Oita and Kumamoto Prefecture Tour from Fukuoka, from S$316.85

2D1N Oita and Kumamoto Prefecture Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
2D1N Oita and Kumamoto Prefecture Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

NAGASAKI

Kyushu's natural beauty is also evident in places like Nagasaki, which has a dramatic coastline and picturesque landscapes. Nagasaki is historically significant as one of the first Japanese ports to open to foreign trade and played a major role in Japan's interactions with the Western world. It is also the second targeted location of the World War II atomic bombing.

6. Discover Nagasaki's History

Visit Nagasaki to explore its historical significance as one of the first ports to open to foreign trade. Explore the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Museum and the Glover Garden, which showcases Western-style mansions from the Meiji era.

Peace Statue at Nagasaki Peace Park. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Peace Statue at Nagasaki Peace Park. (Photo: Gettyimages)

7. Take your kids to a zoological and botanical garden

Kujukushima Botanical Garden Mori Kirara is a scenic botanical garden nestled in Sasebo, Nagasaki. Surrounded by the breathtaking Kujukushima Islands, the garden boasts a diverse collection of plant species, including tropical plants, orchids, and a beautiful rose garden. It is also home to over 300 animals like penguins, red pandas and elephants.

Kujukushima Botanical Garden Mori Kirara Ticket in Kyushu, S$7.05 (was S$8.05)

Kujukushima Botanical Garden Mori Kirara Ticket in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)
Kujukushima Botanical Garden Mori Kirara Ticket in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)

OITA

The island is blessed with hot springs, or onsen, which are popular throughout Kyushu. Beppu in Oita Prefecture is particularly renowned for its numerous hot springs and unique "Hells of Beppu," a collection of colourful and bubbling hot springs that attract visitors from all over the world.

8. Relax in Beppu Onsen

Experience the therapeutic hot springs of Beppu. Visit the "Hells of Beppu," a collection of unique and colourful hot springs, and immerse yourself in the rejuvenating waters of the various onsen in the area.

Dazaifu Shrine, Yufuin, and Beppu Day Trip in Kyushu, S$95.65

Dazaifu Shrine, Yufuin, and Beppu Day Trip in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)
Dazaifu Shrine, Yufuin, and Beppu Day Trip in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)

Kyushu Beppu & Yufuin 1 Day Bus Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up), from S$9.69

Kyushu Beppu & Yufuin 1 Day Bus Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up). (Photo: Klook SG)
Kyushu Beppu & Yufuin 1 Day Bus Pass (FUK Airport Pick Up). (Photo: Klook SG)

Beppu Tower Admission Ticket, S$7.75

Beppu Tower Admission Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Beppu Tower Admission Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)

9. Experience Yufuin

Visit the charming town of Yufuin, known for its picturesque hot spring resorts, traditional ryokans, and beautiful scenery. Stroll along the streets lined with boutiques, cafes, and art galleries, and take a relaxing bath in one of the town's many onsens.

Yufuin & Kurokawa Onsen Village One Day Tour from Fukuoka, S$95.65

Yufuin & Kurokawa Onsen Village One Day Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)
Yufuin & Kurokawa Onsen Village One Day Tour from Fukuoka. (Photo: Klook SG)

10. Enjoy a fun-filled day at a theme park and an aquarium

Inspired by the beloved characters of Sanrio, including Hello Kitty and My Melody, the Sanrio Harmonyland offers a whimsical and colourful experience. Visitors can enjoy various rides, shows, and parades, and meet their favourite Sanrio characters in this enchanting world of cuteness.

Sanrio Harmonyland Ticket, S$27.05

Sanrio Harmonyland Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)
Sanrio Harmonyland Ticket. (Photo: Klook SG)

Umitamago Aquarium is a captivating marine park that offers a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world. With a focus on education and conservation, Umitamago showcases a diverse range of marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and even penguins. Visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits, entertaining shows, and a unique underwater tunnel experience.

Umitamago Aquarium Ticket in Oita, S$23.69 (was S$25.15)

Umitamago Aquarium Ticket in Oita. (Photo: Klook SG)
Umitamago Aquarium Ticket in Oita. (Photo: Klook SG)

MIYAZAKI

Known for its stunning natural landscapes, Miyazaki offers pristine beaches, lush green mountains, and picturesque coastal cliffs. It is also famous for its connection to anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who drew inspiration from the region for his movies.

11. Discover Miyazaki's beaches

Enjoy the pristine beaches of Miyazaki, such as Aoshima Beach and Kizaki Beach. Miyazaki is also famous for its surfing spots, including Kisakihama Beach, where you can catch some waves.

Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture. (Photo: Gettyimages)
Aoshima, Miyazaki Prefecture. (Photo: Gettyimages)

KAGOSHIMA

Kagoshima is a captivating prefecture known for its diverse natural wonders. From the majestic presence of Sakurajima, an active volcano, to the picturesque coastline and hot springs, Kagoshima offers a unique blend of volcanic landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality.

12. Visit the iconic Sakurajima volcano

Take a ferry to the island and witness Sakurajima’s volcanic activity up close. Don't miss a visit to Sengan-en, a beautiful Japanese garden with views of the volcano.

Sengan-en Special Tour in Kagoshima, Kyushu, S$48.30

Sengan-en Special Tour in Kagoshima, Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)
Sengan-en Special Tour in Kagoshima, Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)

13. Explore Yakushima Island

Take a trip to Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its ancient cedar forests and beautiful hiking trails. You can hike to Jomon Sugi, a famous 7,000-year-old cedar tree, and enjoy the island's pristine nature.

Yakushima 1 day Shiratani Unsuikyo Walking with English Speaking Guide, S$222.19

Yakushima 1 day Shiratani Unsuikyo Walking with English Speaking Guide. (Photo: Klook SG)
Yakushima 1 day Shiratani Unsuikyo Walking with English Speaking Guide. (Photo: Klook SG)

14. Visit one of the largest aquariums in Kyushu

Kagoshima City Aquarium is an impressive marine facility that showcases the diverse marine ecosystems of the region. Visitors can marvel at a variety of marine species, including dolphins, sharks, tropical fish, and sea turtles. The aquarium also offers engaging shows, interactive exhibits, and educational programs for all ages.

Kagoshima City Aquarium Ticket in Kyushu, S$14.49

Kagoshima City Aquarium Ticket in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)
Kagoshima City Aquarium Ticket in Kyushu. (Photo: Klook SG)

15. Taste Kyushu cuisine

Indulge in the delicious local cuisine of Kyushu, which includes mouthwatering dishes such as Hakata ramen in Fukuoka, Kumamoto's famous horse meat sashimi, Nagasaki champon noodles inspired by Chinese cuisine, and Kagoshima's black pork.

If you ever go to Fukuoka, be sure to try Shin Shin's ramen! (Photo: Lim Yian Lu)
If you ever go to Fukuoka, be sure to try Shin Shin's ramen! (Photo: Lim Yian Lu)

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