The final stops on our tour of Kyushu are Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki
The Seven Wonders of Kyushu: Part Three
This island has three World Cup venues, myriad attractions across its seven prefectures and a host of matsuri festival events. Take a tour of Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki…
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Fukuoka has excellent access to different forms of nature. The Itoshima Peninsula is 40 minutes from the city and offers great beaches and steep mountains. It’s terrific for hiking and cycling, and be sure to check out Futamigaura – two large rocks off the coast connected with a straw rope known as ‘Couple Rocks’ – and Shiraito Falls. You can also take a boat tour around Keya no Oto.
Try the craft beers of Suginoya and the sake of Shiraito, which is close to the Kominka restaurant. And Itaru restaurant at the Mataichi Salt Factory is well known too.
Yame is famous for its green tea production and the area is also known for its crafts, which you can learn about at the Yame Traditional Crafts Exhibition Centre.
Sky Tea House in Kasahata offers views of tea gardens and rice terraces as well as accommodation, while you can do a tea tasting at Konomien, a wholesaler with a 146-year history. Yame-Fukushima offers a stark contrast to the green tea fields with its white-walled old town – great for a stroll.
During the Hakata Old Town Light Up Walk (11-14 October), many shrines and temples are illuminated at night to give visitors a different perspective on the sights.
Those places that are lit up include the rock garden depicting the Genkai Sea at the Jotenji Temple and the main gate of the Tochoji Temple.
Learn more about the local ceramics at the Autumn Festival of Koishiwara Pottery. It’s held twice a year in the village of Toho, a 90-minute drive from Fukuoka, with the autumn event running from 12-14 October. There are 50 kilns in operation and you can save money on Koishiwara ceramics.
Munakata Taisha hosts the Autumn Grand Festival from 1-3 October. As well as hundreds of boats taking to the water as part of a shrine ritual to pray for a good catch, there are performances of mai dance and yabusame (archery on horseback) as well as myriad food stalls.
As downtown Fukuoka is in close proximity to local beaches like Momochihama, Shika Island, Itoshima and Fukutsu, you get incredible views of the sunset.
You’ll make friends quickly in the close confines of the food stalls in the Nakasu, Tenjin and Nagahama districts. It may be a tight squeeze but they’re the ideal place
to enjoy Fukuoka’s local delicacies, like yakitori, dumplings and ramen.
WORLD CUP MATCHES
Thu 26 Sep – Italy v Canada
Wed 2 Oct – France v USA
Sat 12 Oct – Ireland v Samoa
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The first steps on our tour of Kyushu…
Okawachiyama is an isolated village in the mountains outside Imari that is full of pottery workshops, while in the city of Kashima you’ll find the Yutoku Inari Shrine.
The vibrant red building is situated on a hillside up a walking trail lined with torii gates behind the main hall. The reward at the end of the ten-minute climb is views
over Kashima and the Ariake Sea.
There is a Japanese garden and small museum to explore on the site too.
From 31 October to 4 November the skies over Saga will be dotted with hot-air balloons as part of the Saga International Balloon Festival. There are often more
than 100 balloons participating, with entrants from all over the world.
The Karatsu Kunchi Festival (2-4 November) involves a three-day parade of huge floats known as hikiyama. They travel around Karatsu City.
The city of Taku will host the autumn Sekisai Festival on 27 October. The Chinese-style festival is held to worship Confucius and includes performances of gagaku (ancient dance and music).
Hirado used to be an important trade hub and the town’s castle has now been turned into an exhibition centre featuring historical documents and artefacts, including armour and weapons.
The observation deck at the top of the 50m-high castle keep offers fantastic views over Hirado while there are also walking trails and two shrines on the grounds.
Tea is an essential part of Japanese life and Higashisonogi, near Oura Bay, is renowned for producing green tea. Take a walking tour of a plantation, with the picturesque tea terraces as well as the bay, and learn about the making of green tea at the Green Tea Homestay.
Ten stages will be erected around Sasebo from 18-20 October for the Yosakoi Sasebo Festival, which attracts 250,000 people every year. It’s the largest festival of yosakoi dance, with teams from all over Japan performing, and on 19 October you can join in one of the events.
Nagasaki Kunchi (7-9 October) is a festival with nearly 400 years of history that celebrates the local deity worshipped at Suwa Shrine. There is an eclectic mix of performances with Japanese folk dances, Chinese-influenced dragon dances and even Dutch comedies.