Region - northern Kyushu
Lose yourself in the old-world atmosphere of historic towns where time-honoured traditions continue
Explore on foot or cycle the colourful countryside with its mosaic of fields, orchards, gardens, tea plantations, temples and villages
Experience life of a bygone era by staying in traditional houses in historic towns and the countryside
Discover a dazzling range of craft traditions including indigo-dyeing, ceramics, bamboo and woodcraft, handcrafted paper and classic dolls, and observe the artisans at work
Enjoy one of the most diverse food traditions in Japan, from popular dishes such as yakitori and noodles, to gourmet dinner courses of creative fusion cuisine or premium Wagyu beef
Connect with nature on easy to moderate-grade hikes ranging from quiet meditative walks through ancient forests to exhilarating panoramic traverses of volcanic ranges
Enjoy a head start to spring as apricot and camellia trees blossom at a time when most of Japan continues to freeze
Northern Kyushu, including the prefectures of Fukuoka, Oita, Saga and Nagasaki, has a cosmopolitan culture that reflects its location as Japan’s gateway to the Asian mainland and the world. A hub of human activity since prehistory, northern Kyushu was where the Yayoi culture arrived from Asia over 2000 years ago, bringing irrigated rice cultivation that is fundamental to the Japanese diet as we know today. The traditional culture has evolved with influences particularly from Korea, China and Europe, which are apparent in the cuisine, crafts, architecture and festivals of the region. As a result, northern Kyushu is a treasure-trove of traditional crafts and culinary experiences, with diversity that is hard to match. The friendly, welcoming and easy-going nature of northern Kyushu locals no doubt reflect the successive waves of different peoples and cultures arriving over the millennia. Northern Kyushu’s tradition of embracing new ideas have also made the region a ‘hotspot’ for innovation in recent times, whether in creative modern cuisine, green technology or medical research.
The natural environment of northern Kyushu is just as diverse as its traditions. Coasts with sandy beaches and deeply indented coves, gently rising mountains clothed in dense forests, densely cultivated valleys nourished by fast-flowing rivers, and villages and terraced fields clinging to hillsides all contribute to the ‘classic’ northern Kyushu landscape. The southern areas of the region are at the edge of central Kyushu’s volcanic belt, a wonderland of fuming vents, vast footslopes and innumerable onsens. Easy to moderate-grade hiking opportunities abound in northern Kyushu, where you can take in a wide variety of scenery—from the expansive vistas across grasslands and colourful displays of wild azaleas in volcanic terrain, to the ancient weathered stone steps through dense forests of a sacred mountain where the melancholic calls of the wild Japanese deer echo. The mild climate of northern Kyushu makes it an all-year destination. Here, you can enjoy a head start to Japan’s celebrated spring blossom season as early as February, when the apricot and camellia groves are in full bloom and the grass starts to put forth green shoots.
Northern Kyushu is home to a number of popular international tourist destinations, including Fukuoka City, Dazaifu, Nagasaki, Beppu and Yufuin. However, much of the region still remains truly ‘off the beaten track’. With so many places of cultural interest and natural beauty, you will never be short of places where you can create your own unique travel experience in northern Kyushu. We invite you to discover the wonders of northern Kyushu, away from the tourist crowds.
The valley of Chikugo River, the longest river of Kyūshū, is a particularly fascinating area of northern Kyushu. The region supports one of the most diverse food, craft and horticultural traditions in Japan, including noodle making, soy sauce and sake brewing, tea growing, azalea and Camellia breeding, indigo-dyeing and kasuri textiles, bamboo and woodcraft, ceramics, handcrafted paper, Buddhist altars and classic Japanese dolls, to name a few. In addition are more recent traditions that include premium-quality fruit growing, wine and fruit vinegar making, artisan bread making and patisserie. The long list of regional culinary experiences on offer range from the popular yakitori, udon, and ramen noodles, traditional country cuisine and northern Kyushu-style hotpots, to gourmet courses of Kaiseki and Japanese-European fusion cuisines or a premium Wagyu hotplate prepared right before your eyes. The region’s long history is apparent in the pockets of old townscapes and numerous ancient archaeological sites scattered throughout the countryside. The gentle terrain is perfect for discovering the delights of Chikugo Valley through country walks and easy cycling. Explore the nooks and crannies of historic towns and villages, observing craft and food artisans in their workshops, visiting historic houses to immerse in their old-world atmosphere, or taking time out at a charming teahouse to enjoy the local green tea served the classical way. Stay in lovingly restored, traditional houses to experience local life, and mingle with the friendly townsfolk at a popular down-to-earth eatery. Take in the ever-changing rural scenery, from orchards and vineyards loaded with luscious fruit, colourful patchwork-like nursery fields, groves of flowering apricot and camellia trees, peaceful country temples and shrines, to mysterious ancient burial mounds.