Return to Wonder – Japan Endless Discovery
I like to take a lot of photos when I travel – but even I was surprised by how many photos I took when I visited Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.
Kyushu is Japan’s third-largest island and its subtropical climate, awe-inspiring landscapes, and rich history have made it a popular choice for both domestic and international tourists wanting to experience a different side to Japan from the bustling city streets of places like Tokyo or Osaka.
From hot springs onsens and active volcanoes, to charming pottery towns and picturesue islands, there’s a lot to explore in Kyushu – and even more to photograph.
If you’re looking for somewhere to visit that won’t just leave your camera roll full of pool-side cocktails and selfies, Kyushu is definitely somewhere you should consider.
Here are some of our best recommendations for things to photograph while you’re there.
Mount Myoken is one of eight mountains that are collectively called Mount Unzen. Unzen was the first designated national park in the whole of Japan.
You can ride the Unzen Ropeway in a cable car to the top of Mount Myoken, where you can take in the breathtaking views that surround you. But pausing on the road up to the ropeway gives you the chance to take a great snap of the mountain itself.
Unzen Onsen is a popular hot spring resort, located just over an hour’s drive from Nagasaki City.
At Unzen’s Jigoku – or ‘Hells’ – area hot springs gush out from the ground, and it’s almost impossible not to take in the smell of sulphur in the air. The steam rising up from the hot springs makes for an excellent photo opportunity.
Kyushu has a long and detailed history with religion, and there are lots of significant sites all over the island that have their own story.
Oura Church, for example, is a Catholic church in Nagasaki City that was built by a French missionary in the 1800s. It’s considered the oldest standing Christian church in Japan, and its position atop a hill makes it a really interesting building to photograph.
The Japanese word “kujuku” translates to “99” in English, but in actual fact there are 208 islands that make up the Kujuku Islands.
One of the best ways to take in the beautiful islands – and to photograph them – is by getting yourself onto one of the area’s cruises, which take you along the water that meanders between the islands.
If photographing nature – and flowers in particular – is something you want to do whilst in Kyushu, make sure that Mifuneyama Rakuen is on your itinerary.
The flower-laden site spreads out over 500,000 square meters. During spring everything from cherry blossoms, azaleas, and plum trees all bloom, and by autumn all the colours have turned completely different shades.
Mount Aso Nakadake Crater
Mount Aso is an active volcano that erupted as recently as 2021. How close you can get to the crater’s edge depends on the conditions of the day.
But when the conditions are right you can walk right up to the edge and see the smoke billowing out from the centre below, which looks impressive in any of the photos you take – and trust us, you’ll probably want to take a lot!
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
Tenmangu Shrines throughout Japan are dedicated to a spirit called Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician. It’s not uncommon for students to visit a Tenmangu Shrine for good luck before exams.
Dazaifu’s Tenmangu Shrine – along with Kyoto’s Kitano Tenmangu – is considered to be one of the most important Tenmangu Shrines in the whole of Japan. Not only is it surrounded by stunning nature, but the Shrine itself is absolutely magnificent.
Local Flora & Fauna
It’s not hard to find vast landscapes with awe-inspiring views in Kyushu, which will likely all see your camera never leave your hand. But some of Kyushu’s local flora and fauna might see you reaching for your macro lens.
Plants like the deciduous Shirodoudan or the impressive Spider Lily, or colourful birds like the blue-and-white flycatcher can all be found on Kyushu, and they’re just as fun to photograph as all of the surrounding landscapes.