Top 6 things we enjoyed doing in Kyushu!
We just came back from a trip to Japan’s third largest island! During our 12-day, self-guided tour around the northern areas of Kyushu, we’ve set foot in over 13 cities, rode on a mini cruise, visited local markets, soaked in hot springs, sat in a designer train and ate lots of delicious Japanese food. Take a look at what we thought were the best part of our trip to Northern Kyushu:
Drink at a Standing Sake Bar in Hakata
We discovered this tiny standing sake bar
in the B1 level of Amu Plaza Hakata, adjoined to Hakata Station. If our eyes weren’t caught by the sake bottles displayed along the area that’s facing the mall’s walkway, we would’ve never seen this bar. The bar offers 9 different sake from Kyushu that rotates every month and only has room for about 5-6 people. If it’s not busy in the dining area adjacent to the bar, they would allow you to drink sake there as well but it’s not as authentic in our opinion. This is a great place to try sake from different regions of Kyushu and we often see locals hang out here after work.
Eat Sushi at Karato Market’s Sushi Battle
Every weekend (Friday – Sunday), the Karato Fish Market holds a special event call the “Sushi Battle” where fish vendors will sell sushi, chirashi don and other seafood delicacies. Get a takeout container and a pair of tongs from one of the vendor’s staff and pick your own sushi bento from their wide selection of fresh sushi. Sold by the piece, sushi prices range from ¥100 to ¥600. Since fugu, or puffer fish, is a specialty in this area, you can find fugu sushi, sashimi, deep-fried puffer fish and even puffer fish sake here! We ate a fabulous seafood breakfast here.
Cruise Among the Islands in Sasebo
Kujukushima is a group of islands located about 25 minutes from the Sasebo Station. Kujuku means “99” so in English it’s called the “99 Islands” but there are actually more than 200 islands in the area. At the Pearl Sea Resort, you can take a ride in one of two ships that circle amongst the islands in a 50 minutes cruise. We enjoyed learning about the islands, their history and the important role they play for shellfish farming.
Eat a 5-Course Meal Served in Arita Porcelain
Arita was one of the first sites in Japan to produce porcelain called Arita-ware. There’s a special cuisine served in the area called Arita-Yaki Gozen. It’s a 5-course meal served in Arita-ware. The meal featured one local ingredient that is prepared in 5 different ways: grilled, boiled, steamed, vinegared/pickled and fried. We ate Arita-Yaki Gozen at Gallery Arita for a reasonable price of only ¥1,300!
Ride the A-Train to Misumi
We love riding the designer trains that’s available from JR Kyushu Railway. This time we rode the A-Train, which has a Southern European design. Enjoy a highball at the bar, buy special onboard only items and get a free collectable stamp card while taking a ride to visit Misumi West Port, a designated world heritage site.
Navigate the Yanagawa Canals on a Riverboat
The canals in Yanagawa were initially constructed for irrigation but now they are tourist attractions for Japanese and foreign travellers. There are several companies that operate riverboats called “donkobune” and offers tours around the canals. The boatman not only operates the boat, he also provides information on local history, points out interesting sights and sings traditional folk songs! The area is very tranquil and even though we don’t understand Japanese, Yanagawa is a perfect place for us city dwellers to step back, slow down and take in the moment.
We’ll be doing a thorough write-up for each of these location/activities soon so stay tuned!