The big draws in Japan – Tokyo and Kyoto – will give you a taste of this amazing country, but you can fully immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of Japan by exploring the Kyushu Region.

Japanese food is a huge draw for travellers to the region: sushi, sashimi and sake made with fresh natural ingredients are top of the list for visitors. But to really understand this simple, yet precisely delivered, cuisine you have to get out and sample what the regions have to offer.

The Kyushu region, in the south-west of Japan, is a sub-tropical paradise with volcanoes and hot springs. This is a region with incredible history and food, amazing food. Kyushu is celebrating its 150th year of Meiji Restoration, the revolution that restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in 1868.

Here’s 5 reasons we’re heading to Nagasaki in the Kyushu Region: 

 

1. NAGASAKI

This Japanese city has a dark past, its name synonymous with the dropping of the second atomic bomb in 1945. But there is much more to this vibrant metropolis than its sad place in history.

The region’s hidden Christian temples – linked to the Edo Period in the 1600s – have attracted the attention of UNESCO with plans to make these temples a World Heritage site. Persecuted during the 17th to 19th century Japanese Christians fled to Nagasaki to set up these secret worship sites, some of which still remain.

And we are not suggesting you ignore Nagasaki’s past, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of this world-changing event. You can also visit the

Nagasaki Peace Park which commemorates the atomic bombing of the city on August 9, 1945 during World War II.

 

2. DEJIMA

This quirky site is a manmade island just off Nagasaki. Dejima was first created to house Portuguese missionaries and then later became a Dutch trading post for two centuries – the Dutch being the ONLY Westerners allowed to remain in Japan during this time.

These days Dejima is not an island at all as the surrounding land has been reclaimed making the outmost part of the mainland. Many of the original structures remain and have been reconstructed to shine a light on this unusual part of the Japanese history.

 

3. UNZEN-ONSEN

This is a resort town that takes advantage of the area’s natural hot springs, a side effect of the island’s many volcanoes. This town has long been a draw for tourists with the first Westerners drawn to the area’s health-giving waters in the 1800s.

These hot springfields, or Jigoku (hells), are spooky to look at with sulphurous gas and milky water spewing from underground but in the public hot springs baths, you can try these highly acidic waters as travellers did hundreds of years ago.

 

4. GUNKANJIMA

Known as Battleship Island, this eerie tourist spot is an abandoned island lying 15 kilometres off the coast of Nagasaki. This island came to the attention of travellers in the 2000s due to the incredibly well-preserved nature of the historic buildings and now you can wander this ghost island’s concrete buildings and stroll the spooky sea wall. A real historical curiosity.

 

5. THE FOOD

The food in the region is amazing and a true fusion of various styles. Shippoku is a Japanese culinary style heavily influenced by Chinese food with several smaller dishes shared as a kind of Japanese tapas. While in the region you have to try champion that is a lardy, soupy noodle dish that is famous in Nagasaki. For dessert try castella, a regional cake that has been influenced by the Portuguese that used to live here.

 

DISCOVER MORE OF JAPAN WITH ANA

Beginning in June, ANA will highlight Kyushu as part of its “Tastes of JAPAN by ANA – Explore the regions -” campaign. ANA will serve meals and desserts made from local Kyushu ingredients in the cabins on certain routes and lounges from June-November 2018. ANA has 8 flights per day to Nagasaki with great connections in both directions via Tokyo when flying from Australia. Flying time from Tokyo to Nagasaki is approximately 2 hours.

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Have you ever been to Nagasaki?

Written by Paul Chai, KARRYON contributor

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