6. Seasonal blooms
Flock to Fukuoka’s Nishi Park in spring for hanami season or wander through the light purple arch at Kumano Shrine in Mitsuhashimachi Nakayama, created by the 300-year-old giant wisteria of Nakayama. Come early November, Mifuneyama Rakuen (below) in the Saga prefecture is painted with the warm colours of autumn foliage that reflects off the garden’s mirror-like pond.
7. Spectacular night views
Nagasaki’s night views are definitely some of Kyushu’s best. The most memorable has got to be that enjoyed from the observation deck (below) at the summit of the 333m-high Mount Inasa, which you can ascend in a glass-panelled gondola – the ride takes all of five minutes. The twinkling panorama of Nagasaki’s city centre and harbour that greets you at the top is among the Three New Great Night Views of the World named by the Night View Summit in 2012. Go during the Minato Matsuri festival, held every July, and you can also feast your eyes on a brilliant fireworks display.
8. Coloured hot springs
Where there are active volcanoes, there will be hot springs (below). Unique to Kyushu are onsens that come in bold hues of red, yellow, blue, green, white, brown and black, due to the presence of various minerals such as sodium, magnesium sulfate, sulphur and chlorides. A dip in these is said to be beneficial for those with skin disorders, rheumatism and neuralgia.
Once homes and military defence structures owned by feudal lords, these grand fortresses remain standing today following a string of restorative efforts in the 1960s. They act as museums, housing countless artefacts, weaponry and more, and offer stunning views of the surroundings. Karatsu Castle in Saga, for instance, affords sweeping views of the Genkai-nada Sea, while Kokura Castle (below) in Fukuoka has an interactive zone where you can ride a daimyo kago (a traditional Japanese carriage).
PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES (SL HITOYOSHI TRAIN), KYUSHU TOURISM PROMOTION ORGANIZATION (HAKATA RAMEN), 123RF.COM (DONGURI NO MORI, MIFUNEYAMA RAKUEN, KOKURA CASTLE, HOT SPRING), ALAMY (CLICK PHOTOS; OGIMI VILLAGE, HAKATA GION YAMAKASA FESTIVAL, MOUNT INASA OBSERVATORY DECK)
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.