Fukuoka Day Trips

Dazaifu
Dazaifu © JoshBerglund19

Dazaifu

In the northern part of Kyushu Island in southwestern Japan lies the ruins of Dazaifu, a city that during the 1st century was the seat of government for the island and first line of defence against threat from East Asian nations. The walled city once stood in open fields, but now the ruins on the southern slopes of Mount Ono are surrounded by modern Dazaifu, and the valued historic site has been turned into a park. Apart from the interesting ruins, Dazaifu also boasts one of Japan's most important shrines: the Dazaifu Tenman-gū is dedicated to a great scholar named Sugawara Michizane, who died in the year 903 and subsequently became revered as a deity because of his wisdom. The shrine is now a place of pilgrimage for students from all over the country, especially when examination season comes around. The approach to the shrine is lined with teahouses specialising in a local rice cake delicacy, which is believed to keep illness at bay. The ancient Komyozenji Temple, situated close to the shrine, is also worth a visit, mainly for the stunning gardens, which are particularly beautiful in the autumn when the leaves turn a magnificent array of colours.

Mount Aso
Mount Aso © Furansowakun

Mount Aso

The composite volcano of Mount Aso lies almost in the centre of Kyushu Island. Among the largest in the world, it's also Japan's biggest active volcano. Mount Aso also boasts one of the world's largest caldera (volcanic depressions), which stretches about 11 miles (18km) from east to west and 15 miles (24km) from north to south. Inside the caldera are five volcanic peaks: Mount Neko, Mount Naka, Mount Eboshi, Mount Taka, and Mount Kishima. Mount Naka is still active and regularly emits smoke and ash. The rest of the landscape inside the caldera is beautifully green and grassy, with grazing cows and horses, as well as about 50,000 inhabitants in several towns and villages. In the city of Aso there is a museum dedicated to the volcano which is worth visiting for those interested in the region's remarkable geology. At the museum visitors can watch presentations about Aso in addition to viewing a live image from a camera positioned at the active crater site. There is a cableway up to the Mount Aso crater lake, called the Mount Aso Ropeway, which allows visitors to see the steaming turquoise water up close. But when the sulphur level rises too high the site is closed as the fumes can become toxic.

Nagasaki
Nagasaki © Tito & Eva Marie Balangue

Nagasaki

The beautifully situated port city of Nagasaki lies at the southern end of Kyushu Island, 95 miles (152km) southwest of Fukuoka. Nagasaki was open to the world for centuries between 1639 and 1859 while the rest of Japan was secluded from foreign contact by governmental decree. The exposure to foreign cultures has left the city with a sophisticated and liberal air that makes it popular for tourists, enhanced by the many attractions in the city itself and surrounding prefecture. Here you can enjoy Feudal castles, samurai houses, smoking volcanoes, hot spring baths, rugged offshore islands, and beautiful beaches. The most important site in the city is the Peace Park (Heiwa Koen), commemorating Nagasaki's darkest hour on 9 August 1945, when a nuclear bomb intended to be dropped on the Mitsubishi Shipyards exploded instead over the Urakami district, killing approximately 80,000 people. A black stone column marks the blast's epicentre, alongside the Atomic Bomb Museum. Nagasaki has many attractions for visitors and one of the most popular short excursions is a boat trip to the spooky Hashima Island, once a coal mining facility but now completely uninhabited and covered in ruins.