47 Prefectures: Kyushu

The Kyushu area, popular with tourists visiting Japan. Fukuoka, famous for its ramen and motsunabe, Kumamoto, which became instantly famous with Kumamon, Oita and Saga, famous for their hot springs, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, etc., with their stunning sea views and gourmet food, each prefecture is unique and full of highlights! This time, we will introduce the characteristics and differences in the personality of each prefecture in Kyushu! Knowing this will make your trip even more interesting!

Reviewing the location and tourist information of each prefecture in the Kyushu area

Kyushu Illustration Map

"Kyushu Region" refers to the southwesternmost of the four major islands of the Japanese archipelago, comprising the seven prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima.

Each prefecture has its own airport, and it takes about 2 to 2.5 hours from Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Kagoshima Airport, so it is convenient to use airplanes for departures and arrivals from Tokyo. However, there are airports without flights from the Kansai region and other areas, and airports with so few flights serviced. In such cases, you need to access Fukuoka Airport or JR Hakata Station, the gateway to Kyushu, and transfer to airplanes, Shinkansen, limited express trains, and highway buses from there.

If you want to travel around Kyushu, it is convenient to use the Kyushu Shinkansen, which connects Hakata Station and Kagoshima-Chuo Station. You can access Shin-Tosu Station in Saga Prefecture and Kumamoto Station from JR Hakata Station in a short time, and from 2022, the West Kyushu Route has been opened, making it easier to access Takeo Onsen in Saga Prefecture and Nagasaki Station, the terminal station in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Popular among tourists visiting Japan! What are the characteristics and tourist attractions of each prefecture in the Kyushu area?

Kyushu Fukuoka and Kagoshima
(Photo on the left) © K.P.V.B

The characteristics and representative spots of the Kyushu area, which has a strong personality and many attractions for each prefecture, are as follows.

Fukuoka Prefecture

The area around Hakata Station, Tenjin-Nakasu, the largest downtown area in Kyushu, and Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine are famous. Local dishes such as Motsunabe and Mizutaki, and street food such as Tonkotsu Ramen are also known as "Hakata Gourmet".

Saga Prefecture

Saga Prefecture Karatsu and Ureshino Onsen

Enjoy historical sites, pottery, and hot springs. Especially famous are the hot spring resorts such as Ureshino Onsen and Takeo Onsen, and the pottery made in places like Arita Town, Karatsu City, and Imari City.

Nagasaki Prefecture

A city with a unique culture due to its active trade with foreign countries, historical sites as a Christian city, and remnants of war history such as the Atomic Bomb Dome and Nagasaki Peace Park. There are also many gourmet foods influenced by foreign countries, such as Castella.

Kumamoto Prefecture

A city with the world-renowned Aso Caldera and the castle town atmosphere centered around Kumamoto Castle. Kumamoto Gourmet is also highly regarded, and it is famous for its production of agricultural products such as "Basashi" (horse sashimi) made with horse meat, which boasts the highest domestic production volume, as well as watermelons, tomatoes, and mandarins.

Oita Prefecture

Beppu, famous for its hell-hot-spring tour (地獄めぐり / Jigokumeguri), and Yufuin, rich in nature, are among the hot spring areas scattered throughout the prefecture, where you can experience the unique hot spring culture of Japan. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy the great outdoors, such as the Kokonoe "Yume" Suspension Bridge, which boasts the highest height for a pedestrian-only bridge in Japan.

Miyazaki Prefecture

Miyazaki Aoshima Mango

Known for its beautiful coastline and warm climate. Famous spots include the Nichinan Coast, which is designated as a national park, Aoshima, which is also a stage of mythology, and Takachiho, a land of Japanese mythology. The local cuisine is also exquisite, featuring local chicken, Miyazaki beef, and fruits such as mangoes and citrus fruits.

Kagoshima Prefecture

Sakurajima, an active volcano, is the symbol of the prefecture. In recent years, island trips to visit the World Natural Heritage sites of Yakushima and Amami Oshima, as well as Kirishima and Tanegashima, have become very popular! The local cuisine is also abundant, with Kagoshima black pork and Kagoshima black beef, and the production of sweet potato shochu using the local sweet potatoes is also thriving.

Why is it called "Kyushu" when there are only seven prefectures? The origin of the name comes from the old names of the lands

The regional name "Kyushu" means "nine provinces," composed of the kanji '九' for "nine" and '州' which represents a habitable area or administrative district. However, there are only seven prefectures in Kyushu today.

In fact, it was called "Kyushu" because there were nine domains during the Ritsuryo system era (from the late 7th century to around 1870). At that time, there were nine domains: Chikuzen, Chikugo, Buzen, Bungo, Hizen, Higo, Hyuga, Osumi, and Satsuma. Currently, parts of Chikuzen, Chikugo, and Buzen have been consolidated into Fukuoka Prefecture, and the areas of Satsuma and Osumi have become Kagoshima Prefecture. Despite these changes, the name "Kyushu" is still used.

Experience the unique features of each prefecture through ramen and livestock products. Enjoy delicious food and learn about Kyushu culture!

Fukuoka Hakata Ramen
©Fukuoka Prefecture Tourism Federation

When you think of Kyushu, you think of gourmet food! Here, we introduce Tonkotsu Ramen and livestock products that are produced in large quantities in each prefecture. Let's enjoy eating and learn about the traditions and culture unique to each prefecture!

Does Tonkotsu Ramen reflect the characteristics of each prefecture? Introducing the characteristics of ramen that actually differ by area

Hakata Ramen

©Fukuoka Prefecture Tourism Association

Many people may associate Tonkotsu Ramen with Hakata Ramen from Fukuoka, but in fact, there are local Tonkotsu Ramen dishes in various parts of Kyushu.

Kurume Ramen

Particularly famous is Kurume Ramen from Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, the birthplace of Tonkotsu Ramen.

Kurume Ramen, like Hakata Ramen, uses a cloudy Tonkotsu soup and very thin straight noodles, but it is characterized by a richer flavor, a stronger smell, and thicker noodles.

Kumamoto Ramen

Kumamoto Ramen Tonkotsu
©Kumamoto Prefecture Tourist Federation

Kumamoto Ramen is attractive not only for its pork bone broth, but also for its soup cooked with chicken bones and vegetables. In addition, it is characterized by a punchy taste due to the addition of fragrant fried garlic chips and 'ma-yu' garlic oil (oil fried with garlic).

Kagoshima Ramen

Kagoshima Ramen Tonkotsu
(Photo on the left) © K.P.V.B (Photo on the right) ©Kagoshima City

If you like light soup, Kagoshima Ramen is recommended! Like Kumamoto Ramen, the soup is made from pork bones, chicken bones, vegetables, etc., but it has a lighter taste. In addition, besides char siu, toppings often include a lot of vegetables such as green onions, bean sprouts, cabbage, and a separate plate of pickled radish, a local specialty, is often served.

Kyushu is full of branded beef, chicken, and pork⁉ It's not just seafood!

Kagoshima Black Beef and Kagoshima Black Pork
©Kagoshima City

Although Kyushu is strongly associated with abundant seafood, it is actually known as Japan's largest livestock supply base, and is also known for its delicious varieties of meat.

According to the 2022 agricultural output by prefecture, Kagoshima ranks first nationwide in beef and pork, and second in chicken. Miyazaki Prefecture ranks first in chicken and third in beef. In addition, there are branded beef, pork, and chicken in Fukuoka and Kumamoto prefectures, and there are many local dishes.

For example, the famous branded breeds in Kagoshima Prefecture are Kagoshima Black Beef and Kagoshima Black Pork. In particular, Kagoshima Black Beef won first place for the second consecutive time at the 2022 Wagyu Olympics, making it the best Wagyu in Japan!

Miyazaki Chicken Nanban

Also, Miyazaki Prefecture, famous for its Chicken Nanban, charcoal-grilled chicken, and chicken sashimi, has several brand-name chickens, each with different production areas, flavors, and recommended cooking methods. We recommend trying a variety of them.

In addition, there are many other regional specialties, such as Hakata Jidori, a brand-name chicken from Fukuoka famous for its Mizutaki, Rindou Pork named after the prefectural flower "Rindou" of Kumamoto Prefecture, and Saga Beef, which is raised with high-quality water and nature in Saga.

※A local dish served with tartar sauce on wide fried chicken

Are they masculine and highly alcohol tolerance⁉ A thorough explanation of the characteristics of "Kyushu Men"

Kagoshima Saigo Takamori Statue
© K.P.V.B

When Japanese people engage in casual conversation, phrases such as "Kyushu Danji" and "Hakata Bijin", which represent people from Kyushu and Fukuoka, are often used. In this article, we will explain the term "Kyushu Danji", which is particularly popular in drinking parties and local talks!

What is the image of the "Kyushu Danji" that Japanese people often talk about?

The term "Kyushu Danji" is used to describe men from Kyushu.

This is said to be because Saigo Takamori, who played an active role in the "Meiji Restoration (1868)" that brought about the birth of a new government and had a significant impact on the modernization of Japan, was from Kagoshima Prefecture, and therefore, the image of men from Kyushu being "strong and reliable" and "heavy drinkers" is strong.

The "Kyushu Danji" as generally imagined by Japanese people

  1. They enjoy drinking and love festivals and events
  2. They are emotionally deep and considerate
  3. They are impatient and short-tempered
  4. They are dynamic and have leadership skills
  5. They are show-offs and spend money lavishly

Fried fish cake Shochu

The number one is derived from the fact that shochu production and consumption are thriving. In Kyushu, local shochu is made in all prefectures, and consumption in Kagoshima and Miyazaki is among the highest in the country. Shochu often has an alcohol content of 20 to 30 degrees, which is high among the liquors made in Japan, and it is said that the image of "drinking a lot of shochu = being highly alcohol tolerance" has been established.

Also, Kyushu is famous for festivals such as Hakata Gion Yamakasa, Nagasaki Kunchi, and Karatsu Kunchi. It's truly the embodiment of a love for festivals, boldness, and bravery! However, there are also negative points such as extravagant spending for show-offs who love events, impatience, and short temper. Starting with Fukuoka Prefecture, which has a high volume of traffic, Kyushu is often in the news for poor driving manners among drivers.

Introducing the common traits of each prefecture in Kyushu!

The locals in Kyushu are very unique!

Fukuoka: A city where transferees cry⁉ Fukuoka City, a city too comfortable to want to transfer

Fukuoka Prefecture Udon
Hakata Udon ©Fukuoka Prefecture Tourism Association

Fukuoka City is known for its popularity not only among tourists but also among migrants due to its easy access from the airport to the city, abundant gourmet food, and good living environment. Japanese businessmen sometimes have to relocate to regional areas due to company circumstances, and Fukuoka is popular among these transferees. There is even a saying that "employees who are transferred from Tokyo to Fukuoka cry twice". This means that they cry once when they receive the transfer order because they don't want to leave Tokyo, and they cry again when they have to return because they don't want to leave Fukuoka. This is an expression that means Fukuoka is a comfortable and attractive city to live in.

For those who want to know more about Fukuoka Prefecture, click here

Saga Prefecture: Arita ware, Imari ware, Karatsu ware! Most of the tableware at home is made in the prefecture⁉

Saga Arita ware

Saga Prefecture is the birthplace of Arita-yaki porcelain, a world-renowned Japanese porcelain. In addition, Karatsu-yaki from Karatsu City is also famous.

As a result, most of the tableware in households is produced in the prefecture. Even in ramen shops and school lunches, it is said that plates and bowls made in the prefecture are used. There are also rumors that recycle shops in the prefecture are stocked with famous brands of porcelain & ceramics such as Arita-yaki, Imari-yaki, and Karatsu-yaki!

For those who want to know more about Saga Prefecture, click here

Nagasaki Prefecture: Large plate udon is a staple dish for Obon and New Year's

Nagasaki Plate Udon

Sara Udon is a noodle dish from Nagasaki, known nationwide in Japan.

It's a staple menu item in school lunches, and it's often served as a large dish during family gatherings for Obon or New Year's. It's a tradition in Nagasaki to order Sara Udon in a large dish from the local Chinese restaurant and serve it to guests, everyone gathering around the table where the large dish is placed.

For those who want to know more about Nagasaki Prefecture, click here

Kumamoto Prefecture: The tap water tastes better than the bottled mineral water sold in stores!

Kumamoto Groundwater

Kumamoto Prefecture, known for one of the world's largest volcanoes, Mount Aso. Thanks to this, spring water from the mountains flows throughout the prefecture, and the tap water in Kumamoto City is 100% groundwater.

It is a government-designated city with a population of over 700,000, and it is the only place in Japan where all tap water is supplied by groundwater. The residents are so proud that they say, "In Kumamoto, natural mineral water comes out of the tap."

For those who want to know more about Kumamoto Prefecture, click here

Oita Prefecture: A well-known hot spring prefecture. There are even people who enjoy hot springs every day in their homes with their own hot springs!

Oita Beppu

When it comes to Oita Prefecture, it's a well-known hot spring prefecture. In fact, hot springs are found in almost all (16 cities and towns) within the prefecture, making it the top hot spring destination in Japan in terms of both "number of sources" and "discharge volume".

In Beppu and Yufuin, there are footbaths, hot spring inns, and hot spring tour spots all over the town, but many locals enjoy daily hot springs at home by purchasing residences with hot springs, or at communal hot springs scattered throughout the town, commonly known as "Jimosen", for a cheap fee of 100 to 300 yen!

If you want to know more about Oita Prefecture, click here

Miyazaki Prefecture: A pro baseball traning campsite where you couldn't watch the WBC⁉ "Dogenka sento ikan" TV station situation

Miyazaki Baseball Watching

Miyazaki Prefecture is popular as a training camp site for professional baseball, but there are only two private broadcasters other than public broadcasting, so residents often cannot watch crucial games.

The training camp site for the Japanese national team "Samurai Japan" for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which determines the world's best baseball team and was held in March 2023, was also in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. However, the Japan vs Italy game, where Japan won decisively and advanced to the semi-finals, and the final game were not broadcasted within Miyazaki.

Baseball

Many people in Miyazaki Prefecture found out that Japan had won the final match through other people's Twitter (currently X)! Will there ever come a day when the people of Miyazaki can watch all of Samurai Japan's games?

If you want to know more about Miyazaki Prefecture, click here

Kagoshima Prefecture: Actually a kingdom of Somen! Unique Nagashi Somen too!

Kagoshima Nagashi Somen
© K.P.V.B

People from Kagoshima Prefecture actually love somen noodles. They eat them all year round, not only in the summer, but also in miso soup and a stir-fry dish called "yu-somen". It is said that if you're unsure what to give as a gift to someone from Kagoshima, you can't go wrong with somen noodles.

※A dish made by stir-frying boiled somen noodles with pork, vegetables, and soup stock.

The way they do nagashi somen (flowing somen noodles) is unique, using a rotating device. Because they use a circular somen noodle flow device, everyone can eat together as if they're surrounding the dining table, which seems fun♪

If you want to know more about Kagoshima Prefecture, click here

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