My love for Japan is well documented; it’s a timeless country that captures your heart, soul and imagination; a place where ancient traditions come together with futuristic technology and modern culture.
Tokyo is a tourist favorite, but did you know that Japan has a whopping 6,852 islands?!
Most travelers stick to the main island, and take in the classics like Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. But it’s so easy to travel between islands in Japan, that it’s well worth mixing up your itinerary to explore further out.
One island it would be a shame to miss is Kyushu. This is Japan’s third largest island, though sitting in a sub tropical climate on the southwest end, Kyushu remains a hidden gem.
You might picture ancient temples, neon lights, and dizzying skyscrapers when you think of Tokyo, but Kyushu allows you to discover a side of the country you don’t expect; one of Jurassic looking volcanoes, ultra lush forests, tropical coastlines, and bubbling hot springs.
So, after you’ve experienced everything Tokyo has to offer, let Kyushu show you a different side of Japan. Check out these 6 short videos for a virtual trip to both Tokyo and Kyushu Island.
Visiting Tokyo? Make Sure You Don’t Miss Out on Kyushu!
From Sumo Wrestling to Hot Springs
From Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo, to Hot Springs in the Oita Prefecture of Kyushu, there is much culture to take in when you combine a trip to both Tokyo and Kyushu.
Click to play the video!
Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo
Kokonoe-beya in Sumida, Tokyo, has more tournament victories than any other sumo stable, and if you’re a members of the official fan club you can arrange to see a morning training session up close.
Sumo training is grueling and requires discipline and dedication. It includes serious sparring, at close to tournament-level intensity, and is an incredible experience to watch behind the scenes.
Hot Springs in Oita
Located in Oita Prefecture, Beppu is one of the most famous hot spring towns in Japan. Takegawara Onsen, with its luxurious gabled roof, is a symbol of the town, and is one of the few places where you can try a steamed sand bath.
Feel the energy of the Earth in the steam, mud and waters of Beppu’s seven “hells.” A local specialty is “hell-steamed” dishes cooked with the naturally-occurring, hot-spring steam.
There are also outdoor baths, like Suginoi Palace’s Tanayu, where you can enjoy the view as you bathe. The townscape is perhaps most breathtaking at night.
From Kawaii to Wakaran Mixed Culture
From Kawaii Culture (the culture of cuteness) in Tokyo, to Wakaran Mixed Culture in the trading port of Nagasaki, culture vultures are in for a treat when combining a trip to both Tokyo and Kyushu.
Click to play video.
Tokyo Kawaii Culture
Kawaii in Japanese means cute, or adorable, and this has become its own culture. The ‘culture of cuteness’ refers to everything from items, to humans; examples could be cute handwriting, or Hello Kitty; basically anything that is charming, vulnerable, shy and childlike.
To fully immerse yourself in this culture, Tokyo is the place to be. Enjoy flamboyant sweets along Harajuku’s vibrant Takeshita Street. Stop by the cute and spooky Kawaii Monster Cafe, home of the spectacular Sweets Go Round.
Eat and snap these colorful and crazy concoctions, served by the iconic Monster Girls. Say hi to café mascot Choppy and take a selfie with the Monster Girls before you go. (As of November 2018, Choppy only performs on Wednesday nights.) At night, the café becomes a wild and raucous show restaurant.
Wakaran Mixed Culture in Nagasaki
Wakaran culture is a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and Western cultures. Nagasaki is a major trading port, being the closest port in Japan to the Asian mainland. As such, foreign trade has seen a unique melting pot of cultures emerge.
Tour the beautiful Glover House, the oldest wooden Western-style building in Japan. At Ryotei Kagetsu, enjoy Nagasaki’s unique Shippoku Ryori, a hybrid cuisine with Japanese, Chinese and Western elements.
Each October, the city hosts the Nagasaki Kunchi festival. As a symbol of Wakaran culture, it is a nationally-recognized folk festival, and the various city districts each prepare their own unique dashi float and dance through the streets in a colorful and vibrant mass celebration.
From Edo Kiriko Glassware to Imari Ware
From showrooms in Tokyo that display exquisitely-cut Edo kiriko glass, to visiting the Arita and Imari porcelain galleries in Saga on Kyushu, there are great opportunities for the art connoisseur looking to combing Tokyo and Kyushu.
Click to play video.
Tokyo: Edo kiriko Glassware
Edo kiriko is a style of cutting glass using delicate patterns, originating from Tokyo. You can visit the Edo Kiriko Cooperative Association showroom to see exquisitely-cut glassware, or observe the intricate production methods at the Tajima Glass workshop.
The most difficult and distinctive part of the process is the pattern-cutting. Some workshops actually offer hands-on lessons where you can try creating your very own Edo kiriko glassware.
Saga: Arita/Imari Ware
Saga is a small prefecture on Kyushu that has become famous for it’s pottery, especially in the town of Arita.
One of the best things to do is a visit to the Arita and Imari porcelain galleries in Arita Porcelain Park where you can enjoy elegant works of Arita porcelain in a majestic setting.
While in Saga you should also take in the history and atmosphere of Imari’s old neighborhoods. Designed to resemble a beautiful piece of porcelain, cross the ornate bridge to see artisans hard at work at the Shingama Arita porcelain workshop.
If you’re hoping for a hand on experience, many workshops allow you to try shaping and decorating your own piece of Arita porcelain. Or if you’re simply after souvenirs, stop by the Arita Porcelain Lab for some shopping.
All of the Above in One Video!
Nature, Adventure, Culture & Food!
One Last Video … Even Though You’re Already Convinced!
Visit Kyushuantokyo.org for more information about combining both Tokyo and Kyushu in your trip to Japan. Whether you’re interested in culture, adventure, nature, or food, their website has fantastic itineraries and advice for planning your trip.
Japan Airlines connects Tokyo and Kyushu with a short two hour direct flight (1 hour 50 if we’re being exact!). So it really is only a step away. Flights tend to leave early in the morning, meaning you can land before 10am and make the most out of your day.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore an off the beaten path part of Japan that still remains relatively untouristy despite the country’s popularity on the world stage. After you’ve experienced everything Tokyo has to offer, let Kyushu show you a side of Japan you haven’t seen before.
And don’t forget to organize travel insurance quotes for your trip.
This post was sponsored by Kyushu X Tokyo.
OUR FAVORITE GUIDES TO JAPAN: CLICK PHOTO TO LOOK INSIDE↓