Travel Guide Asia Japan Kyushu

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Introduction

Kyūshū is Japan's third largest main island and the most southern. It is also one of the 8 main regions in Japan and this region also covers the Ryukyu Islands, including the main island, Okinawa.

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Geography

The island is mountainous, and Japan's most active volcano, Mt Aso at 1,591 metres, is on Kyushu. There are many other signs of tectonic activity, including numerous areas of hot springs. The most famous of these are in Beppu, on the east shore, and around Mt. Aso, in central Kyushu. The island is separated from Honshu by the Kanmon Straits. The name Kyūshū comes from the nine ancient provinces of Saikaidō situated on the island: Chikuzen, Chikugo, Hizen, Higo, Buzen, Bungo, Hyūga, Osumi, and Satsuma.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

Yakushima

View from a bridge in Yakushima (Yakushima Japan)

View from a bridge in Yakushima (Yakushima Japan)

© All Rights Reserved kevinjamesquinn

Yakushima is one of the Ōsumi Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture. Yakushima's unique remnant of warm/temperate ancient forest has been a natural World Heritage Site since 1993. In the Wilderness core area (12.19 square kilometres ) of the World Heritage Site, no record of past tree cutting can be traced. Yakushima is located approximately 61.3 kilometres south of the southern tip of Osumi Peninsula in southern Kyushu, or 135 kilometres south of Kagoshima. The Vincennes Strait (Yakushima Kaikyō) separates it from the nearby island of Tanegashima, which is home to the Japanese Space Centre.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full.

Other Events and Festivals

  • O-Bon (Festival of the Dead) - Usually held in August, this festival is observed nationwide in Japan. Buddhist tradition dictates this is the day the dead return to earth to visit their relatives. Lanterns are hung outside homes and offerings to the spirits are made. In the evening, people float the lanterns on the river to help guide the deceased back to their resting place.
  • Hanami and Cherry Blossom Festivals - A tradition all over Japan, Hanami literally means viewing flowers. Picnic under the beautiful flowing trees in any public park during this special season. Usually lasting for only two weeks in March, the sakura (cherry blossom) schedule changes a bit every year, so it’s hard to nail down exactly when to come.

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Weather

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Getting There

By Plane

1. Fukuoka Airport (FUK) is the main gateway. Destinations include most major Japanese cities and international destinations like Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Busan, Seoul, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Guam, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.
2. Nagasaki Airport (NGS) serves Nagoya, Okinawa, Osaka, Tokyo and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
3. Naha Airport (OKA) is the main gateway to Okinawa. Destinations include all of the major Japanese cities and international destinations include Seoul Incheon International Airport, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Hong Kong International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

To/from Naha Airport

  • Rail: The Okinawa Monorail carries passengers from the airport station to the centre of Naha, and to the terminal at Shuri Station, which is closest to Shuri Castle.
  • Bus: Bus service is available to many parts of Okinawa Island.
  • Car: taxis and rental cars are widely available, and there are many parking places available, both for short-term as well as long-term parking.

By Train

The San'yo Shinkansen line runs from Osaka to Fukuoka and many trains continue along the Kyushu Shinkansen line to Kagoshima. All Shinkensen trains stop at Kokura Station in Kitakyushu and Hakata Station in Fukuoka; a trip by train all the way from Tokyo takes about 5 hours by Nozomi and costs ¥23,150. There are no Hikari trains that go the full distance from Tokyo to Hakata, so With the JR Pass, you'll need to change trains. You can also go from Osaka to Hakata with the JR West San'yo Pass.

The Kyushu Shinkansen crosses the west side of the island to Kagoshima in the south. Many trains to Kagoshima start in Osaka, and the full course takes about 3.75 hours by Mizuho and ¥22,210. The JR pass is not accepted on Mizuho trains, but they are accepted on Sakura trains which make the journey in 4 hours. A journey from Tokyo (with a change in Osaka) takes a little over 6.5 hours and costs about ¥30,500, add an hour with the JR Pass for a Hikari to Sakura connection in Shin-Osaka or Okayama.

The Hakata to Kagoshima run takes about 1.5 hours. There are also good Limited Express trains servicing most anywhere of interest on the island, so you can take train from Hakata to just about anywhere else of interest on the island in about an hour in a half. The exception being Miyazaki which is about four hours from Hakata.

By Bus

Willer Express is a company which provides daily night time bus services from Nagoya, Tokyo, and Osaka to Kyushu. They offer an online booking services in Japanese, English & Korean.

By Boat

South Korea
Mirajet has high speed ferries between Busan and Fukuoka, taking only 3 hours. JR Beetle, a Japanese based company, offers the same service.The Camellia-line ferry service is much slower (15 hours) but almost twice as cheap.

Taiwan
The weekly ferries between Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Ishigaki and Miyako in the Okinawa Prefecture have been suspended since 2008. The trip took about 18 hours and boats left Taiwan on Mondays and Okinawa on Thursdays or Fridays. There is talk of new ferries between Japan (either Okinawa or 'mainland' Japan) and Taiwan, but up until now (October 2009) there is no ferry.

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Getting Around

By Train

The train is the transport mode of choice on Kyushu. The Kyushu Shinkansen zips across from Fukuoka (Hakata) via Kumamoto to Kagoshima in 1:20, and there is fairly rapid limit express network to get anywhere else. There are also some scenic local train lines such as the JR Hisatsu Line (肥薩線) from Kumamoto via Yatsushiro to Hayato (near Kagoshima) is considered one of the most scenic in Japan, and there are comfortable, sightseeing oriented, trains on these lines, and there are some runs with unique roll stock, most notably the Aso Boy from Kumamoto to Mt. Aso and the Steam Locomotive Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi, along the Hisatsu Line.

The Kyushu Rail Pass, available only to visitors on tourist visas, offers unlimited travel on JR Kyushu's lines, including the Kyushu Shinkansen but not the San'yo Shinkansen to Hakata. Keep in mind, that the limited express trains throughout Kyushu are fairly reasonably priced, so the 3 day pass is probably not going to save money unless you're using taking the Shinkansen or spending a lot of time on the train.

The prices of the pass are as follows: Northern Kyushu Area 3-day pass ¥7,200 5-day pass ¥9,260

All Kyushu Area 3-day pass ¥14,400 5-day pass ¥17,490.

By Bus

Buses serve those parts of Kyushu outside the railway network, but schedules tend to be very limited. There is also a highway bus system paralleling the train network, for which reservations can be done on a portal website. They also offer SUNQ 3-4 day unlimited travel passes: 4-day All Kyushu Pass ¥14,000; 3-day All Kyushu Pass ¥10,000; 3-day Northern Kyushu Pass ¥8,000.

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Language

Kyushu is home to dialects of Japanese that are almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard Japanese -so much so that it was utilised during World War 2 for preventing interception by the Allies of Japanese communications. Even native speakers of Japanese from Honshu often have problems understanding the conversations of locals. However, most people are able to speak standard Japanese and especially in the cities younger people may also have a decent command of English.

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Eat

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Drink

Kyushu is the home of shōchū (焼酎), the fiery Japanese distilled liquor. It's typically around 25%, but some varieties can be much stronger. It can be distilled from nearly anything including rice, barley, brown sugar and buckwheat, but Kyushu is best known for potato shōchū (芋焼酎 imojōchū), particularly that from the ancient province of Satsuma (modern-day Kagoshima).

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Sleep

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This is version 15. Last edited at 8:07 on Aug 17, 17 by Utrecht. 24 articles link to this page.

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