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Kyushu, located in Japan’s southwestern corner, is a land of myths and stories. Inhabited over 10,000 years ago, it was the Japanese first port of contact to the rest of Asia and later on with the western world, resulting in a fascinating mix of multicultural cities with a brilliant mix of old and new. On the geological front, it is peppered with a splattering of active volcanic peaks making the region the undisputed onsen capital of the country. Peer your eyes westward and you will find lush outcrops lining up along a near-tropical coastline where big waves and pristine beaches await the keenest surfers and beach bums alike. And then there’s the culture cauldron brewing up centuries national treasures such as Jomon ruins, Shinto temples and samurai legacies. Lastly, who can forget that Kyushu witnessed one of the greatest tragedies that the world ever witnessed and how it rose from the ashes to exemplify the sheer vitality of the land it possesses.

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Warm up

Regarded as the hot spring capital of Japan, travellers to Kyushu should not pass up the opportunity to dip their weary bodies whenever they come across an onsen (and it is hard not to), but there are even more ways than one to enjoy the benefits of its natural volcanic steam. Turn the heat up this round without getting wet with a unique-to-the-region hot sand bath in which you just have to turn up at the hot sand beach, proceed to lay down into a pit, get “buried” under the hot scorching sand, and wake up from your ritual finding yourself rejuvenated as you would after an onsen bath. And if you are an intrepid discoverer, a campfire experience in Amani Oshima Island, the second-largest remote island in the whole of Japan famous for its primeval forest, awaits to warm your body and soul in the charming cold of the Christmas season.

Savouring Kyushu

If you are a foodie at heart, eating your way around Kyushu is sure going to be a satisfying affair. One of the region’s best prized local produce is the famed Kurobuta pork, which is commonly known outside Japan as the black pig. Savour this immensely tender and juicy pork like no other in a scrumptious shabu shabu meal and taste for yourself why it is regarded as one of the world’s haute ingredients of the highest pedigree and quality. After digging into the best quality pork you may have ever tasted, it is time to salivate after another high-end protein also unique to the region, the Saga beef. While Kobe beef, its more famous cousin, may be held in greater regards by many gourmands the world over but in-the-know Japanese also swear by this consistently sweet, rich and marbled breed of an equal prestige.

Soak and Sleep

When in Kyushu, an unmissable highlight not to pass over in any circumstance must be the absolute pleasure of staying in an onsen hotel where one can relax amidst tranquil surrounds, soak in rejuvenating hot spring pools, rest and those tired bones and retire for the night blissfully knowing the fact that you may just have bathe in the water of one of the world’s best thermal spring region. And did we mention you also get to do all of the above in the comfort of your own private bath? If that is not one of the best ways to enjoying life to the fullest, we don’t know what is.