Travel secrets of Japan’s Kyushu island

Kyushi is the third largest island of Japan and offers an abundance of nature and unique world-class attractions. Andrew J. Wood, British-born veteran travel writer, author, and resident of Asia for the past 25 years, shares his travel secrets about Kagoshima as he takes readers through Kagoshima’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Sengan-en and Shoko Shuseikan

Located along the northern coast of downtown of Kagoshima, lies the UNESCO site Sengan-en Garden, a stunning Japanese landscaped garden. In July 2015, it was declared a World Cultural Heritage site together with Shoko Shuseikan, a machine factory museum. The backdrop to the grounds is Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima Bay.

The first thing to see when stepping into the compound is an 80-kg iron cannon. The first foundry was located here.

At the residence of Lord Shimadzu, visitors can experience a guided tour and enjoy Japanese tea and traditional confectionery.

Open daily from 0830-1730 year-round

Yakushima Island

Yakushima is a circular island approximately 60km southwest of Kyushu’s southern-most tip. Comprising virgin forests and a diverse range of eco-systems. It is referred to as the Galapagos of East Asia and due to its mountainous terrain “the Alps on the Ocean”, many of which are over 1000m high, including Mt Miyanoura-dake (1935 m above sea level), the highest in Kyushu. It’s a perfect choice if you love nature and plant life.

One-fifth of the island was declared a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

The change of temperatures at different altitudes and the abundance of water and rain provides a perfect micro-climate for plants from both subtropical and cold temperate zones. The most commonly seen animals are the Yaku monkey and Yaku deer amongst the 1,000-year old cedar trees. The monkeys and deer outnumber the human population by 2 to 1.

A must-do is hiking the Shiratani Unsuikyou Ravine covering 424 hectares of forest, 600-1300m above sea level. The forest is covered in ferns and mosses and full of cedar trees and laurels that inspired the animated film Princess Mononoke.

The island also boasts the tallest falls in South Kyushu with an 88 m drop, Ohko-no-taki waterfall, one of Japan’s top 100 falls.

The falls are located just 1 hour and 45minutess from Kagoshima Honko port, or 1 hour and 15 minutes from Ibusuki Port to Yakushima Miyanoura Port by high-speed ferry.

To travel around the island, there is an excellent inexpensive daily hop-on/off bus service which departs hourly during daylight hours.

THAI (TG) has daily flights to Fukuoka, Kyushu, from Bangkok with just 5 hours’ flying time.

Japan has visa exemption arrangements with 67 countries.

The author, Mr. Andrew J. Wood, is a professional hotelier, Skalleague, travel writer and Director of one of Thailand’s leading DMC/travel agents. He has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience and is a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh (Hospitality Studies).