The guides and drivers were very knowledgable about the areas and took care of us well
A couple from San Francisco

Exploring Japanese Culture, Kyushu-style

Kyushu is Japan’s third-largest island and the farthest southwest of them all. With its fascinating historical architecture, unique Asian- and European-influenced cuisine, and cultural curiosities unique to this particular region of Japan, Kyushu is an interesting destination for those looking for to cover a range of interests. Its must-see sights include the history-enriched city of Nagasaki, stunning volcanic mountains of Aso and Unzen, and historical buildings, castles included.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Japanese cuisine is some of the best in the world and you’ll get to try all sorts of local dishes on this trip, including the famed ramen noodles
  • Visit the somber Nagasaki bomb site memorial
  • Visit a real Japanese castle on a hill - Kyushu’s scenery is stunning, home to two large volcanic mountains
  • Get a taste of the Netherlands at the iconic Huis Ten Bosch Dutch-themed amusement park
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Begin by touching down in Fukuoka, a city situated on the northern shore of the island Kyushu. Settle into your hotel-- we recommend either With the Style Fukuoka or The Luigans Spa & Resort-- and then spend today exploring the largest modern city on the island. First up, visit Canal City, a large shopping and entertainment complex. There’s great shops, cafes and restaurants inside, and it’s the perfect place to start your shopping. Don’t forget to visit Nakasu, the red light district and party area. For a culture kick, stop by the Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, spanning more than 3,000 acres. This shrine was built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane, a poet who is worshipped as the god of learning and academic achievements. In the evening, grab a taste of local Fukuoka cuisine - make sure you try the Mizutaki chicken hot pot or the Tonkotsu ramen noodles in pork bone broth.

Day 2

This morning you will first pay a visit to several small towns in Saga Prefecture that are famous for their pottery. Karatsu, Arita and Imari towns have been creating high quality, impressive pottery and porcelain for many years with ancient techniques brought to the island from Korea. These towns have fabulous pottery on display at various studios, galleries and the homes of historically important pottery makers. Next, head to the city of Nagasaki, known to much of the world as the target of an atomic bomb attack by the United States, an event which killed more than 70,000 residents within seconds. Stay overnight at a hotel in central Nagasaki, or at Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park of the Netherlands. Here you’ll see many buildings created in Dutch style, including hotels, villas and restaurants, plus iconic landmarks such as windmills. There’s also theme park rides and a large park filled with flowers.

Day 3

Wake up early for a busy morning exploring Nagasaki with your local guide. First, visit the Peace Memorial Park, a somber reminder of the more than 70,000 people killed by the events in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Then you’ll move onto Nagasaki’s Chinatown, Japan’s oldest, established in the 17th century. Chinatown is best known for its restaurants and distinctive Chinese flair not seen in other parts of Japan. Stunning European houses and an old Catholic wooden church are located on the hill overlooking the port. For lunch, it’s a local meal of Chanpon, which is ramen noodles with stirfry, or Shippoku, original Chinese-influenced cuisine. After lunch, take a scenic train trip and a ferry ride to Kumamoto. Here you’ll see a view of beautiful volcanic Mt Unzen. Spend a night at a deluxe hotel in the center of the city-- we recommend Hotel Nikko Kumamoto.

Day 4
Yufuin or Kurokawa

Wake up in Kumamoto and take a trip to Kumamoto Castle, a large castle situated high up on a hill. It’s an impressive sight and well worth a visit. After that, visit a traditional Japanese garden, surrounded by pine trees and a lovely, tranquil pond. After a busy morning of exploration, head to relax in either Yufuin or Kurokawa, two areas known for their hot springs.On the way to the hot springs resort, experience a scenic drive around the area of Mount Aso. This is the largest active volcano in Japan and is located in the Aso Kuju National Park. Spend the night at Tamanoyu and enjoy a delicious full-course Japanese dinner.

Day 5

Emerge from a restful sleep before heading to Fukuoka Airport to catch your international flight. Reflect upon what a fabulous time you’ve had exploring this amazing part of Japan. Safe travels to your next onward destination!


Suggested Accommodations

The Luigans Spa & Resort, With the Style Fukuoka

The Luigans Spa & Resort

Overlooking Hakata Bay, on the coast of Shikanoshima Island, and nestled into Uminonakamichi Seaside Park,  guests of The Luigans Spa & Resort are treated to lush, verdant green surroundings, with expansive ocean views. The design concept of this hotel incorporates bold, vivid colors, a homage to famous architect, Luis Barragan. Rooms are simple and modern, with comfortable linens, and modern features like large, flat-screen TVs. There is an indoor spa, as well as yoga on the beach and tennis courts for guests’ use. Dining options here are plentiful, from the lounge on the water, two Japanese restaurants, a poolside barbeque restaurant, and a cafe-bar area providing ideal spots for guests to enjoy a meal and drink with friends or colleagues. With the ocean breeze constantly rolling in, guests looking for a beach resort atmosphere will find this hotel a great option. 


With the Style Fukuoka

This chic hotel has styled itself as a modern urban oasis, with luxurious, contemporary touches like a lit-up pool, complete with leafy centerpiece. The hotel’s 16 luxurious rooms are furnished with colorful, sleek pieces, and soft, plush linens, while all drinks, champagne included, are complimentary. The best part? Check out isn’t until 2pm the next day. A lounge is provided for the exclusive use of guests, as are restaurants, banquet halls, and even a stand-alone chapel for wedding ceremonies. Art and music is a major component of this hotel, intended to heighten guests’ emotions, thus creating a unique, inspiring environment throughout the entire abode. Guests may choose to dine at either the main restaurant, which serves up hearty Italian favorites, or the teppanyaki restaurant, where guests can pull up a seat to the bar that allows a front-row view of the chef preparing the dishes. This hotel is ideally-located, a short walk from the JR Hakata Station, and a short drive from the airport, while also being convenient for reaching Fukuoka’s must-see sights.

Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort , Hansuiryo, Hotel Europe, Taishoya

Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort

This grand, stylish, award-winning hotel is a Nagasaki centerpiece. Clean, crisp decor takes modernity to the next level, alongside the hotel’s playful light displays. Room choices come in the form of the Garden Suite, Ocean Suite, Tower Suite, and Japanese Suite, all of which feature LCD TVs, iPod docks, and balconies with exquisite views of the harbor. Guests may choose to dine at any of the hotel’s three restaurants, from the French restaurant, Forest, to the Japanese Teppanyaki and kaiseki restaurant, Akizuki, and finally the sushi restaurant, Tenku. Those looking for activities will be pleased with the hotel’s open-air pool, which is especially picturesque at night as it enjoys stunning views of the waterfront, the chic club lounge, and the hotel’s own private bathroom with adjoining sauna. The airport is less than an hour away by car, and there is a JR station a short drive from the hotel. 



Though far from Nagasaki’s city center, Hansuiryo enjoys lush natural surroundings from its location  tucked away in the countryside. This means guests trade convenience for a feeling of being away from the tourist crowds, secluded in the midst of Unzen National Park. What’s more, there is a feeling of expansive space here, with only 14 villas built over an expanse of 65,600-square-feet. Villas have been built in the sukiya teahouse architectural style of simple elegance, surrounded by a lush, delicately-manicured Japanese garden. The restaurant serves up scrumptious Kyoto cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients. Guests may take a dip in the on-site onsen said to be over a millenium old, and highly anti-bacterial. 


Hotel Europe

This stunning seven-story hotel is located within Nagasaki’s Huis Ten Bosch theme park. The elegant structure is meant to conjure memories of a 19th century Dutch mansion. Inside, there are over 300 rooms to choose from, styled to classic European standards, with views of either the town or the ocean. Luxurious touches that come standard with the rooms include a bidet toilet and roasted Hoji tea. Some rooms come equipped with a kitchenette. Six restaurants and lounges are available for guests’ dining pleasure, serving up European and Asian delicacies. The hotel also has its own spa, which features in-room treatments for guests who desire a body wrap, a facial, or the like. This is a classy, well-appointed hotel for guests who wish to spend some time at Huis Ten Bosch.



Designed by famed architect Junzo Yoshimura, on his quest for the ultimate comfort hotel, this traditional Japanese ryokan is large and historic. The rooms have been designed in keeping with very traditional Japanese styles - simple, clean, walls with tatami mat floors, and floor seating. We recommend the Hanare rooms. The hotel is engulfed by lush, natural surroundings, with handmade water structures alongside verdant gardens. Guests will enjoy the hotel’s sauna and spa tub. The on-site Japanese bar has free-flow alcohol option for non-stop glasses of cold beer, sake, or whatever is preferred, to accompany dinner. Located in Saga Prefecture, the hotel is a 45-minute drive from Nagasaki’s city center. 

Hotel Nikko Kumamoto

Hotel Nikko Kumamoto

This modern Kumamoto hotel is situated in the center of the city and is the best available in the area. There are 191 rooms to choose from, and six restaurants as well, giving this hotel a leg-up on choice. Rooms are simple-yet-comfortable, and the restaurants serve up French, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine, with a bakery, tea and cocktail lounge, and brasserie on-site as well. Ideally-located in Kumamoto’s city center, with the city’s famed castle within walking distance, as well as its business district, guests will find this to be a convenient place to stay. Also convenient is free WiFi throughout the hotel, and a front desk that stays open 24 hours. Finally, the hotel boasts the largest event room in the city, making it ideal for those organizing a get-together with a large group.

Hotel Kamenoi Bessou, Sanso Murata, Tamanoyu

Hotel Kamenoi Bessou

One of Yufuin’s top three ryokans, Hotel Kamenoi Bessou has both Western and Japanese-style rooms available amongst its 21 rooms. The rooms are on the smaller side, but what they lack in space, they make up for in comfort. Breakfast and dinner are inclusive of the room rate, and guests who book the Western-style rooms will have their meals served in the hotel’s Western restaurant, Keika-Enn, which provides an inviting dining environment under the shade of tall cedars. Yunotake-Ann is the hotel’s other restaurant, serving up kaiseki cuisine and Japanese nabe - guests may dine in the restaurant’s outdoor gardens in the warmer months. There is also a cafe on-site where guests can enjoy a cup of tea or specialty coffee. Also on the property is a large communal hot spring bath, which guests may soak in and enjoy its healing waters. The hotel is located an hour’s drive from the airport, and just a quick jaunt from Yufuin Station. 


Sanso Murata

This modern hotel is one of Yufuin’s top three ryokans. Guests will enjoy its effortless melding of Western touches with traditional and contemporary Japanese sensitivities. Both rooms and villas are available here, with spacious interiors, WiFi, comfortable furnishings, and modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs. Guests will love the room’s private hot spring bath. There are two restaurants on-site, which serve up traditional Japanese dishes (soba noodles are a specialty here). There are a few souvenir shops on the property, where guests can purchase unique gifts for friends and family back home. Also for guests’ enjoyment and cultural enlightenment are art galleries for guests to peruse and appreciate. The hotel is ideally-located just eight minutes from Yufuin Station.



Tamanoyu is one of Japan’s most well-known hotels. Once a sanatorium for Zen priests, a  refurbishment updated the hotel, while preserving its traditional elements. The hotel sits on a wide expanse of land, with 17 guest houses sprinkled throughout, in a serene, peaceful, natural setting. Rooms feature a Japanese-style living room, Western-style bedroom, and their own private spa bathing room. Included in the room rate is breakfast and dinner, and guests can enjoy their meals at Budouya, or Tea Room & Nicol’s Bar - which serve up delicious dishes. Conveniently, the hotel is only a 15-minute walk or three-minute car ride away from JR Yufuin Station. The friendly staff are renowned for their excellent English, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. 

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A frequent visitor to Japan, our General Manager Victoria Hilley loves the local food as well as petting the cute deer in Nara.
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