Fukuoka is the biggest city on Kyushu Island in Southern Japan. It is an important harbor and a hub for Japan travel. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), Fukuoka Castle was the largest castle in Kyushu. It was torn down, but its castle walls remain in Maizuru Park, a popular cherry blossom spot in the spring. Fukuoka is famous in Japan for its culinary culture and cuisine, its many food stalls (yatai) and Hakata Ramen - thin noodles in pork-based tonkotsu soup. Visit the Yanagibashi Rengo Ichiba (fish market) and the yatai in the Nakasu area to try Fukuokas’s best foods.
If you travel by Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Kyushu Island, you will first come to Fukuoka Prefecture. Its capital Fukuoka City is a former castle town and now the biggest city on Kyushu Island. Ohori Park is located on the old castle grounds. The Kyushu National Museum has an excellent collection showing Japanese art and history. It is located nearby in Dazaifu, the former governmental center of Kyushu. The Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the national headquarter for all Tenmangu shrines. Also in the Fukuoka area is Munakata Taisha, UNESCO World Heritage and one of the oldest shrines in Japan.
Hiroshima is one of the largest cities in Western Japan located on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. Every year, millions visit its two World Heritage sites, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Itsukushima Shrine. In 1945, Hiroshima was the target of the first atomic bomb and the Peace Memorial Park commemorates this. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island is famous for its Torii gate that looks like it floats on the water.
Niigata is one of the prefectures on Japan’s main island that are located along the Sea of Japan. Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata City, is known for its music festival and has a Taiko Centre where you can learn all about Japanese drumming. Explore Niigata’s coast or go hiking and skiing in the mountains - the region around Minamiuonuma is one of the world’s heaviest snowfall areas. And try the local cuisine. In Japan, Niigata Prefecture is known for its high-quality rice and sake. You can taste some of the leading local brands at the Ponshukan Sake Museum.