Kyushu-Okinawa Holiday Planning Guide
Enthusiastic shutterbugs and lovers of all things picturesque often choose to tour Kyushu-Okinawa on one of the island's epic train trips, leading through a landscape shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity. With mild winters, warm summers, and plenty of developed beaches, the region offers a wealth of marine sports and recreation. Those with relaxation on their mind take a vacation in Kyushu-Okinawa for a chance to explore some of Japan's finest onsens, in which pristine nature meets modern amenities for an unforgettable tourist experience.
Places to Visit in Kyushu-Okinawa
Cities in Kyushu-OkinawaNaha
: Head to Naha, the capital of Okinawa, for historic sites and modern shopping and dining options, set within a balmy tropical climate.Fukuoka
: The most populous city in the region, Fukuoka can fill your days with shopping, sightseeing, and excursions to volcanic peaks. Nagasaki
: This urban center has risen from its dramatic past to become a vibrant harbor city, packed with trendy places to eat and drink, landscaped parks, and sobering monuments promoting international peace.Ishigaki
: You can slow down the pace of your Kyushu-Okinawa vacation with a visit to Ishigaki, where golden sands and clear waters make for a perfect beach holiday with scuba diving, boat rides, and fresh seafood. Miyakojima
: Encompassing six islands linked by bridges, Miyakojima is a treasure trove of outdoor sites, from secluded pristine beaches and sugarcane fields, to vibrant communities rich in local culture.
Popular Kyushu-Okinawa Tourist AttractionsOkinawa Churaumi Aquarium
: Get close to the often-unseen underwater world at this aquarium, where three storeys filled hundreds of species wait to be explored.Shurijo Castle
: Learn about centuries of Japanese history at this World Heritage Site, which served as the headquarters of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Kumamoto Castle
: An iconic landmark, this castle preserves centuries of history, reconstructed across its traditional Japanese architecture and ornately decorated interiors.Kabira Bay
: A picture-perfect vista greets you at Kabira Bay, the perfect spot to snap some photos or take a boat ride to observe coral reefs.Huis Ten Bosch
: Marvel at the impressive ambition of Huis Ten Bosch, a gigantic theme park designed to recreate a trip to the Netherlands, filled with Dutch architecture, fairground rides, and windmills. Glover Garden
: With its koi ponds and impressive views of Nagasaki Harbor, Glover Garden represents the former residence of the 19th-century industrialist Andrew Glover.Dazaifu Temmangu Shrine
: No Kyushu-Okinawa tour would be complete without a trip to this traditional Japanese shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god of learning and elaborately decorated with detailed woodcarvings.Kokusaidori
: Haggle, eat, and drink your way along the buzzing lanes of this street, a lively center of retail and entertainment teeming with unique local sellers.Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
: Vital to understanding the city's World War II history, this museum provides its visitors with an opportunity to learn about the events before and after of the atomic bombing. Tenjin Underground City
: A staggeringly vast underground complex of shops and eateries, Tenjin Underground City provides a retail experience on a mammoth scale beneath the streets of Fukuoka.
Planning a Kyushu-Okinawa Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Kyushu-Okinawa with Kids
In an area of volcanic scenery and diverse natural and urban landscapes, a family holiday in Kyushu-Okinawa provides the perfect environment for those wishing to relax or venture into the great outdoors.
To escape the crowds, travel to Oita Prefecture
, offering hot springs, scenic walks, and cultural sites for you and the kids to explore.
Head farther south on Kyushu Island and discover Miyazaki Prefecture
, where you'll find seaside resorts, quiet coves, and beaches that enjoy some of the warmest weather in Japan.
Take a trip to the other side of the island to Nagasaki
for a lesson about the catastrophic events of World War II through the city's museums and monuments.
Alternatively, in Okinawa Prefecture
the kids can enjoy national parks and a glorious tropical coastline, as well as royal palaces and ancient relics in the capital Naha
Things to Do in Kyushu-Okinawa with Kids
With kid-friendly attractions scattered across the region, it's just a matter of picking a few to make your Kyushu-Okinawa holiday work for your family.
If you visit Oita Prefecture, you can unwind at the hot springs of Umijigoku
, or take the kids to African Safari
for an opportunity to see majestic wildlife up close.
When on the coast near Miyazaki, while away the hours searching for shellfish and crabs on the unusual rock formations at Onino Sentakuita
, before stopping at Nichinan Coast for some fantastic views and the opportunity to taste fresh local seafood.
If your Kyushu-Okinawa itinerary includes a stop at Nagasaki, take the kids to Nagasaki Peace Park
, where you can reflect on the city's history.
Alternatively, meet the penguins at Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
, where educational exhibits, kayaking, and close encounters with the wildlife provide entertainment for all ages. Kondoi Beach
and Sunayama Beach
remain family-friendly options, with good changing facilities and gentle waves ideal for various water sports.
While in Okinawa Prefecture, don't miss Okinawa World Bunka Okoku Gyokusendo
, a theme park and extensive underground cave network that will have the kids exploring for hours on end.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Kyushu-Okinawa
Discounts for children, along with rentable strollers at some of the larger attractions, are commonplace, making it easy for you to plan a day out.
Family restaurants remain a great place to dine when traveling with young children, with many chain outlets providing child seats and kid menus.
Street food vendors also provide an economical way of eating--go for non-spicy, meat-free options if any of your little ones are prone to a sensitive tummy.
When looking for accommodations for your holiday in Kyushu-Okinawa, you'll notice children under 12 are often allowed stay for free. For an authentic Japanese experience, consider staying at one of the ryokans, traditional open-plan accommodations.
Public restrooms usually provide changing tables, but you may want to remember to keep a pack of tissue (toilet) paper handy, as this often runs out in many facilities.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Kyushu-Okinawa
Cuisine of Kyushu-Okinawa
You'll find a rich and diverse food culture on your Kyushu-Okinawa vacation, with steaming ramen, fresh seafood, and perfectly combined sweet and sour flavors served up in every prefecture.
The best places to get your first taste of the region's full culinary spectrum remain city markets. Naha boasts some of the best, with both Makishi Public Market
and Shijo Hondori
offering fresh local produce, cooked in front of you.
Sashimi is easy to find in Naha, but for some of the least expensive and freshest fare, make a stop at Tomariiyumachi
, known especially for its delicious raw tuna.
You can also devote some time to Japan's largest fish markets, like Yobuko Morning Market
. Be sure to arrive early for a chance to snatch the freshest fish, oysters, sea snails, and other delicacies.
Fukuoka is known for its boiled chicken mizutaki soups, coupled with rice and relish, and the food court at Hakata Hankyu provides the perfect place to sample this and a range of other Japanese classics.
For something a little different on your Kyushu-Okinawa itinerary, stop at Bunmeido Sohonten to try some castella cakes, thought to have been brought to the region in the 16th century by Portuguese merchants.
Shopping in Kyushu-Okinawa
If you're looking to do some serious shopping, AMU PLAZA HAKATA
and AEONMALL OKINAWA RYCOM
offer multiple stores with national and international brands.
For a mammoth retail experience combined with an amusement park and restaurants facing Fukuoka's glittering port, stop at Marinoa City Fukuoka
, where outlet shopping and entertainment will keep the whole family occupied for hours.
Also in Fukuoka, Kawabatadori Shopping Street
holds the title as one of the city's oldest retail complexes, where you can pick up a few traditional fans that provide the perfect souvenir or gift to take home.
For more authentic handicrafts, stop at Yonekoyaki Craft Center
, where you'll be greeted by brightly colored traditional shisa figures, a decoration that resembles a cross between a dog and a lion.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Kyushu-Okinawa
Interesting Facts About Kyushu-Okinawa
● You'll find hundreds of castle ruins in the area, with Shurijo Castle
one of the most visited
● Shisa figures guard the entrances of many homes and businesses in Okinawa Prefecture
, thought to ward off evil spirits and keep in the good
● Nagasaki was the first port in Japan to receive trade from the West
● Kyushu is home to one of the world's largest active volcanoes, Mt.Aso
, which stands at 1,592 m (5,223 ft) above sea level
Holidays & Festivals in Kyushu-Okinawa
A hub of culture, Kyushu-Okinawa hosts dozens of festivals throughout the year, so be sure have a look at what's on while you're visiting.
Japan observes fifteen national holidays, the longest of which is the Golden Week. Starting on April 29, this holiday once celebrated the birthday of Emperor Showa, but now combines this with nature appreciation day (Greenery Day).
The Constitution Memorial Day is on May 3, and Children's Day on May 5. Be aware that if you intend to travel during this period, attractions and transport can get very busy.
If you time your Kyushu-Okinawa holiday for August, you'll be able to see the 10,000 Eisa Dance Parade, which bursts onto the central streets of Naha
you can attend the Kira Kira Light Festival, featuring hundreds of thousands of lights illuminating the city streets between mid November and December.
Also in December, the Blindfolded Female Sumo Wrestling in Fukuoka
offers a distinct and unusual experience well worth a visit.
Useful Kyushu-Okinawa Travel Tips
Climate of Kyushu-Okinawa
Kyushu-Okinawa experiences a largely subtropical climate, with milder winters (December through February) than the north, with temperatures between 2 C (35 F) and 14 C (57 F).
The balmy wet summers (June through August) range in temperatures between 24 C (75 F) and 33 C (91 F). In the summer, places like Fukuoka and Kagoshima suffer from heavy rainfall, which usually falls between May and June.
Spring (March through May) and autumn are often considered the best seasons not only for holidays in Kyushu-Okinawa, but also for visiting Japan in general.
Spring offers a somewhat drier climate along with the beauty of Japan's famous cherry blossoms, while autumn benefits from slightly less humid days and cooler evenings.
Transportation in Kyushu-Okinawa
Kyushu-Okinawa is well served by trains, with rail easily being the fastest and most economical way to travel between cities.
The region is also known for some of Japan's most scenic railways, like the JR Hisatsu Line between Kumamoto and Kagoshima.
For a hassle-free Kyushu-Okinawa trip, consider purchasing a Kyushu rail pass, ideal for traveling across the north and south of the island. In most cities, you will find regular and reliable subway and bus lines, allowing easy access between attractions.