I was recently commissioned to join one of Japan’s leading travel companies along with one of the country’s biggest publishers in helping to make a complete travel guide to Kyushu.
Kyushu, which is Japan’s third biggest island has a total of seven prefectures spread over 14,000 square miles – with an abundance of attractions including excellent local cuisine, historic treasures, bustling cities, rugged mountains and an array of natural beauty. My job was to photograph all of the above – this involved meeting lots of interesting people, visiting some extraordinary places and learning a lot about about the history and culture of the region. We visited each and every prefecture over the course of nine days.
The material gathered will be used to promote Kyushu to inbound tourists with a specific focus on European and American visitors.
Here are a few highlights from the trip, starting in the northern-most prefecture of Fukuoka, gradually heading south, and finishing in Kagoshima.
With thanks to my team for the duration of this trip, with whom I has a lot of fun – Kota, Lisa, Nori and Shu.
In Fukuoka we were entertained by a troupe of masterful swordsmen, some of the most skillful in the country, at the Tachibana Residence in the town of Yanagawa. We also visited the old market towns and rugged scenery of Kita-Kyushu. Fukuoka now ranks highly on my list of places I want to revisit in Japan.
This was my first time visiting Saga prefecture and it left a lasting impression on me, it was by far my favourite stop on this assignment. We explored ceramic workshops in the town of Arita, famous for its porcelain and ceramic-ware. We then went on to the rustic and quaint town of Kashima, home of the world famous sake brewery Nabeshima.
In Nagasaki we covered all of the usual tourist stops including the site of the atomic bomb dropping, the Peace Museum and the home of Thomas Glover. We also explored the rugged coastline to the west of the prefecture, had an excellent night view over the city of Sasebo and sampled some exquisite local cuisine including sashimi.
Oita Prefecture is perhaps most famous for its vast amount of natural hot springs, which are some of the hottest in the world. We started in Beppu at the hot springs, before heading to a string of picturesque towns that retain a feeling of Japan in times-gone-by, particularly the castle town of Kitsukijokamachi, with its cobbled streets lined on both sides with old townhouses and merchant storehouses.
In Miyazaki we visited the town of Takachiho where we saw the impressive gorge that the area is known for, that was followed by a traditional Japanese play performed in a local shrine.
Our stop in Kumamoto was far too short, which was a shame because I felt there is a lot more to discover there. We spent most of our time exploring the snow covered Mt. Aso, an active volcano that sits at 1592 meters above sea level, before checking out Kumamoto Castle. The castle is still undergoing extensive repair work after two large quakes shook the region in 2016 leaving gaping holes in parts of the structure.
In Kagoshima, the southern-most prefecture in Kyushu we experienced the local glass making art known as Satsuma-Kiriko, and also visited the Senganen Japanese Garden and Stately Home.
All in all this was an excellent trip with great company, I look forward to seeing how my images are used. My passion for Kyushu has been reignited and I am keen to get back down there before too long to delve a little deeper into some of the places we visited.