If you go all the way to Kyushu, you might as well go a little bit farther to the neighboring prefectures, instead of just limiting yourself to Fukuoka. Here are five recommended spots in Kyushu you can visit that will be worth your time.
Nanatsugama Caves in Karatsu are seven caves of differing sizes that were formed by erosion that was caused by the rough waves of the Genkai-Nada Sea. Designated as a natural monument of Japan, these caves form a scenic spot that best represents Saga. The deep-blue sea and the steep, precipitous cliffs, coupled with the waves that break as they splash against the cliffs are truly a thrilling sight! Above the Nanatsugama Caves, you can see the Genkai Quasi-National Park that features a promenade and a viewing deck. From the viewing deck, you can get a view of the waves beating the caves while creating huge sea sprays, as well as the islands floating beyond the Genkai-Nada Sea.
1. Nanatsugama Caves (Saga)
The Yayoi Period (5th century B.C. – 3rd century A.D.) was the era in Japan’s history when rice cultivation began and people shifted to permanent settlements. The Yoshinogari Ruins is the country’s biggest moated settlement where all relics and remains from the Yayoi Period were excavated, giving the Japanese people extremely valuable historic remains that help them understand the country’s ancient history. These ruins have been consolidated and arranged to create Yoshinogari Historical Park, which is open to the general public. Standing on a vast 58ha property, this park is filled with impressive sights, including historic ruins, reconstructed buildings called pit-houses, and exhibition facilities. You can even get a panoramic view of the Yoshinogari Ruins from the 12m-high watchtower, thereby giving you an actual sense of its massive scale.
2. Yoshinogari Historical Park (Saga)
Built in 725, Usa Jingu is the head shrine of about 44,000 shrines across Japan that are dedicated to Hachimangu (the God of War). It is a historical shrine that occupies the No.2 spot in terms of shrine ranking in the country, next to Ise Jingu. This shrine has become famous as a power spot of late, too, so it is constantly packed with worshipers. The Gankake Jizo (two stone statues for making wishes) that grants just one wish in your lifetime is very popular. However, you have to be careful not to be seen because they say that if somebody sees you while praying in front of the statue, then your wish will not be granted. Also, don’t forget to drop by the main shrine before you head to the Gankake Jizo!
The usual way to worship at a shrine is “two bows, two hand claps and a final bow,” but here at Usa Jingu, it is “two bows, four hand claps and then one final bow,” so be careful not to get it wrong.
3. Usa Jingu (Oita)
Said to be one of the few underwater limestone caves in the world, the Inazumi Underwater Limestone Cave is a famous healing spot in Kyushu that boasts of being the largest of its kind in Japan. This cave was formed 300 million years ago! It is said that it formed its current shape after being submerged in water after Mt. Aso erupted 300,000 years ago. Inside this cave, you will see a lot of underwater stalactites, corallites, bell holes and helictites, thereby creating a magical and fantastic scenery that you probably won’t find anywhere else. Enjoy the creative artworks of nature that were made in the passage of time over the last 300,000 years.
4. Inazumi Underwater Limestone Cave (Oita)
Official name: Nihon Nijuroku Seijunkyoshado (The Church of 26 Martyrs)
Oura Tenshudo (Oura Church), a Roman Catholic church that is located in Nagasaki, is the oldest of all Christian monuments that still exist in Japan today. It was built in 1865, and as its name suggests (the “junkyosha” part of its name means “martyr”), it is a church honoring the 26 Christian martyrs who were crucified in Nishizaka in 1597. This church, which became the first building adopting western architecture in Japan to be designated as a national treasure, is famous for its stained glasses that paint the inside of the church in beautiful colors. The stained glass in the high windows and the corridors are apparently the oldest of their kind in Japan. The stained glass featuring Christ on the cross measuring 1.5m wide and 3m tall that is framed at the high altar in front of the church was a gift from the Carmelite Order of France at the time the Oura Church was being built. However, it was destroyed during WWII and was restored after the war was over. There’s also a Jesuit Archives near the church, where you can learn about the history of Christianity in Japan.
Kyushu is a region that is full of attractive spots to visit. If you are already there anyway, then don’t stay in Fukuoka, but stretch your legs and go a little farther to see the beautiful sightseeing spots nearby.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.