Find out more For suggested itineraries and practical information about travel in Southern Japan, please see page 34. www. audleytravel. com Interactive maps and features, further suggested itineraries, accommodation, climate information and articles written by our specialists. Discuss your plans with our Japan specialists 01993 838 210 ? Kurokawa Relax in the onsen waters of this charming town. Beach time Relax on Ishigaki or Miyako Island's sub- tropical beaches. Matsuyama Stop in at Matsuyama, home to one of Japan's oldest hot spring resorts. 3 5 4 Nagasaki Visit Nagasaki, with its World War II memorial and remnants of Dutch trading. Mount Aso Drive to the expansive caldera of Mount Aso, near Kumamoto. Temples Tick off some of Shikoku's 88 temple pilgrimages. 6 7 8 Southern Japan31 1 3 2 4 5 67 8 Yakushima Island The spectacular cedar trees and coastline of the UNESCO listed Yakushima make for great hiking oppotunities. Iya Valley For adventurous types there is white- water rafting or vine bridge walks in the Iya Valley. 2 1 Temple eaves, eastern Shikoku Ishigaki beach, Okinawa Awa Odori dancers, Tokushima Audley in Southern Japan As a trip to Japan's southern islands is all about escaping the urbanisation of the mainland, we always recommend taking the time to explore a bit more off the beaten track here and we can create a trip that includes time on a white- sand beach, forays into the Shikoku heartland to visit one of the lesser known temples on the Pilgrimage Route, or even white- water rafting through a spectacular Kyushu gorge. We have first- hand knowledge of this region and can advise you which Okinawan islands would best suit you and how to combine time here with some of the highlights of central or northern Japan. Accommodation As elsewhere in Japan we tend to pick accommodation options that will really enhance your experience of the country and although only a few have been mentioned here we can suggest a wide range of accommodation depending on your preferences. There are numerous ryokan in Kyushu and Shikoku that include local cuisine and hot spring bathing and the welcome here is always warm. In Okinawa there are certainly plenty of western style resort hotels with wide- ranging facilities on offer but we have searched a little further afield to find quaint guest lodges overlooking the coast - the perfect spot from which to watch a tropical sunset.
Mount Aso smouldering in the centre. To the north- east of the Aso- Kuju National Park, the hot spring resorts of Kurokawa and Yufuin offer a tranquil and relaxing break from sightseeing. OKONOYURYOKAN, KUROKAWA The Okunoyu ryokan is located in the famous Kurokawa valley and receives its copious supply of geothermal waters from the active volcano Kuju, on which it sits. The ryokan is set in lush grounds, adjacent to the Kurokawa River. Just off the main street in Kurokawa, this ryokan's surroundings make it one of the most attractive in the valley. Rooms are traditionally minimalist and the food is sumptuous ryokan cuisine. South Kyushu For those with an interest in Kyushu's turbulent history, the warm and friendly city of Kagoshima is a good place to visit. Birthplace of the famous rebel Saigo Takamori, the city played a key role in the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent Satsuma Rebellion. Kagoshima boasts many historical sites and one of the best gardens in Kyushu at Suizenji. In the middle of the bay, Sakurajima, one of the world's most active volcanoes, spews out smoke and ash with ominous frequency. Just an hour's drive from the city brings you to the heart of Kirishima National Park, where you can hike through the inspiring scenery before relaxing in one of the many onsen resorts that dot the area. Yakushima Island One- fifth of Yakushima island is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are as many as six mountain peaks over 1,800 metres high, including Miyanoura- dake, which at 1,935 metres above sea level is the highest mountain in Kyushu and what gives the island its alternative name of ' Alps of the Ocean' The island is said to have one of the world's highest precipitation rates, with the heaviest rainfall in spring and summer. The main draw is the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine forest, which is home to the abundant Yaku- sugi cedar trees which gave the island its UNESCO listing in 1994. Some of the cedars are said to date back more than 5,000 years and have been given individual names, such as the oldest cedar, the Jomon- sugi. North Kyushu Nagasaki is Kyushu's best- known city, made infamous on 9th August 1945 as the site of the second atomic bomb. The understated Peace Park and museum are a likely point of interest for every visitor, but Nagasaki's topography mercifully protected the city from being totally destroyed and today it is a vibrant, forward- looking place. The blend of western and Japanese architecture at the Glover Gardens and the foreign enclave of Dejima show what living conditions were like for those original Dutch residents, and the story of Nagasaki's secret Christians displays a darker side of Japan. Travelling across Ariake Bay to Kumamoto brings you to one of the country's finest castles, with its excellent museum and panoramic views. A short drive from here into Kyushu's wild interior is the vast and stunning spread of the world's largest caldera, with volcanic 32 Areial view of Kirishima National Park Nagasaki Peace Park Entrance to the Okunoyu Ryokan