Top 10 outdoor activities in Kyushu

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The Komazuke or "mound of rice", a famous mountain massif Aso (Kyushu).

Komazuke or 'mound of rice', a famous mountain in Aso (Kyushu).

Kurokawa onsen

The gorges of Takachiho, with their unusual rock formations.

Yunohana goya

Sakurajima, Kagoshima

Umi Jigoku, or "Hell of the Sea"

Umi Jigoku, or "Sea Hell", Beppu

An island of adventurers

Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan, offers a great playground for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The summits of the Aso caldera, seen from Kusasenri.

The summits of the Aso caldera, seen from Kusasenri.

1. Explore the biggest caldera in the world

The crater of Mount Aso and its 128 km in circumference constitute an excellent hiking area. The Naka-dake is the only one of the 5 volcanoes still active. Remember to find out about the weather conditions before setting off to explore its summit, which is often closed due to gas emissions. If the weather permits, you can walk along the southern part of the crater, from the cable car to the summit of Taka-dake, then reach the Sensui gorge (allow about 3 hours of ascent).

Please note: the crater has been temporarily closed since September 26, 2017. The site has not yet been reopened.

2. Spend the day at Kurokawa onsen

It is one of the most famous hot spring towns in Japan. The village of Kurokawa, located one hour by bus from Aso and two hours from Beppu, has around twenty rotemburo (outdoor baths), some with views of the river. You can spend the night in one of the many ryokan in the village, but if you don't have the time or the budget, a pass is available for 1,300 yen which gives you access to three baths of your choice.

Read: Beppu

A rotemburo (open-air bath) from the Kurokawa Onsen spa resort in Aso.

A rotemburo (open-air bath) from the Kurokawa Onsen spa resort in Aso.

Manai no Taki waterfall in Takachiho (Kyushu)

Manai no Taki waterfall in Takachiho, Kyushu

3. Visit Takachiho Gorge

Waterfalls, emerald green water, basalt cliffs... The spectacular landscape here is a result of a lava flow from Mount Aso which has formed basalt columns. You can discover the gorges on foot, from a path that overlooks Gokase river, or on board a boat that you can rent for half an hour (2,000 yen). Please note there is a maximum of three people per boat. The area is fantastic to see cherry blossoms, sakura, and azaleas in spring, and autumn leaves, koyo, during the fall. In summer, don't miss the nocturnal illuminations in the gorges.

4. Tour Beppu's Hells

A few kilometers from Beppu station, the districts of Kannawa and Kamegawa are home to thermal springs with an evocative name: jigoku (hell). You cannot actually bath in these springs, and for good reason, the water temperature often exceeds 100°C! But these extraordinary landscapes are well worth seeing, especially the turquoise waters of Umi Jigoku (sea hell), in which eggs are cooked (!), And the bright red pond of Chi-no-ike Jigoku ('pond of blood' hell) which owes its coloring to red clay. See also the bubbling mud pool of Oniishibozu Jigoku (monk's head hell) and the geyser of Tatsumaki Jigoku (tornado hell).

Beppu

Chi-no-ike jigoku, Beppu

Umi jigoku (sea hell) in Beppu

Umi jigoku (sea hell) in Beppu

View of the Myoban bridge

View of Myoban bridge

5. Go in search of the hidden baths of Myoban

25 minutes by bus from Beppu station, several isolated onsen are nestled in the hills, far from the tourist bustle of the spa resorts. Enjoy the blue water of the rotemburo of Tsuru-no-yu, the cascading baths of Hebi-no-yu , or the free mud bath of Nabeyama-no-yu. You can also admire many yunohana-goya, straw huts intended for the manufacture of sulfur-based bath salts.

6. Surfing in Miyazaki

Miyazaki province is famous for its surfing beaches. This is where you'll find the warmest waters and the best waves. Among the most famous spots: the small island of Aoshima, located 15 kilometers south of Miyazaki, the beach of Kisakihama (get off at Undokoen station, on the Nichinan train line) or that of Koigura, 5 kilometers from Cape Toi.

Read more : Beaches in Japan
 Surf and palms in Miyazaki province

Surf and palms in Miyazaki prefecture

The volcanic lakes of the Ebino plateau

The volcanic lakes of the Ebino plateau

7. Walk on the moon at Ebino plateau

Volcanic lakes, gigantic craters... The hikes from Ebino-kogen, located at 1,200 meters above sea level, are spectacular. After the ascent of Karakuni-dake (about 2 hours), a 5 hour walk will lead you to Takachiho-gawara and its gigantic crater. Shorter walks also allow you to discover a series of three volcanic lakes, such as Rokkannon Mi-ike.

8. Cycle on the volcanic peninsula of Sakurajima

Accessible by car and ferry from Kagoshima, the Sakurajima volcanic peninsula is a pleasant day trip. The still active volcano emits ash and smoke regularly, and climbing the volcano has been prohibited since 1955. But you can still see it from one of the observatories of Arimura and Yunohira. The latter, located at 373 meters above sea level, offers the closest point of view of the volcano. Cycling around the island takes around 4 hours. Bike hire costs 300 yen per hour.

View of Sakurajima from Yunohira viewpoint

View of Sakurajima from Yunohira viewpoint

Yakushima

9. Walk among the thousand-year-old trees of Yakushima

This Unesco World Heritage Island is a true paradise for hikers and nature lovers! Its forests, which inspired Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, include many sugi (cedars) dating back thousands of years. The Arakawa-tozanguchi trail leads to the famous Jomon Sugi, a cedar over 3,000 years old (allow 8 hours for a round trip). Note that shorter walks are marked in the forest of Yakusugi Land (accessible from 9:00 to 17:00 for 300 yen). Make sure you're properly equipped for the environment - Yakushima is one of the wettest places in Japan.

10. Dive and observe dolphins in Amakusa

The Amakusa islands, located less than a 2-hour drive from Kumamoto, offers paradisiacal landscapes, with turquoise sea and sandy beaches. A setting perfect for scuba diving and dolphin watching. Cruises are organized, in particular from the coast of Futae, on the island of Shimojima.

Read also: The 5 most beautiful aquariums in Japan

Cruises allow dolphin watching around the Amakusa islands

Cruises allow dolphin watching around Amakusa.

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