Hiraodai Karst Plateau

Hiraodai Karst Plateau (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Designated as a national natural monument, a prefectural natural park and a national park, the vast Hiraodai Karst Plateau in Kitakyushu offers a unique landscape to explore. The rugged terrain features crystalline limestone formations jutting out of the earth, creating a scene straight out of an Emily Brontë novel. Ranging from 300 to 700 meters above sea level and dotted with limestone caves throughout, these uncultivated moors offer the perfect location to live out your Wuthering Heights fantasies. 

Takeo City Library

Takeo City Library (Saga Prefecture)

Designed by Tadao Ando, Takeo City Library is much more than a place to borrow books. Completed in 2013, it’s a regional cultural hub with a historical museum, a Tsutaya Books bookstore, a Starbucks and even a pancake café. Take some time to admire the interior and reflect on you travels, or research your next destination. If you’re feeling peckish, food and drink purchased inside the library can be consumed in designated areas. 

Glover Garden

Glover Garden (Nagasaki Prefecture)

Glover Garden is a serene open-air museum on the hills of Nagasaki City that overlooks Nagasaki Port. Named for Thomas Glover, one of the several industrious merchants that settled here when the Edo Shogunate officially opened the doors to limited international trade in 1858, the garden boasts three former residences — including one belonging to Glover — that fuse Western aesthetics with Japanese architectural craftsmanship. Stroll the garden’s gentle stone-paved slopes with their colorful floral embellishments as your mind transports you back to early Meiji-era Japan.

Kuju Flower Park

Kuju Flower Park (Oita Prefecture)

Oita Prefecture’s western city of Taketa hosts a floral wonderland that is a comfortable middle ground between Glover Garden’s manicured estate and Hiraodai Karst Plateau’s wild acreage. Complete with greenhouses, restaurants and souvenir shops, this casual park boasts the modern conveniences needed by a modern traveler, as well as seemingly endless colorful carpets of bright blossoms in almost every season.

Kusasenri Geosite

Kusasenri Geosite (Kumamoto Prefecture)

You’ll find the Kusasenri geosite inside of the Aso caldera, boasting an extraordinary almost 800,000-square-meter grassland surrounded by volcanic mountains. The geosite is situated within an inactive crater, these days providing sustenance to grazing cows and horses and prime views of the distant Mount Nakadake and its occasional smoke spewing. Kusasenri-ga-hama — which features further craters within craters — and its pond are well worth a brisk stroll to see. For the more adventurous souls, there are many more activities to do at Kusasenri.

Nichinan Phoenix Road

Nichinan Phoenix Road (Miyazaki Prefecture)

You’ll need a car for this one, but is there anything that exudes more main character energy than a road trip along the coast? Down in southern Miyazaki Prefecture, the Nichinan Phoenix Road — also known as National Route 220 — stretches about 120 kilometers and hugs the Nichinan Coast, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Lined with phoenix palm trees, this tropical road is made for cruising along to a summer hits playlist in any season. 


Inno-Jofuta (Kagoshima Prefecture)

Down south in the Amami archipelago, Tokunoshima’s volcanic landscape is as changeable as island weather. From the smooth rock formations of Mushiroze in the north to the dense mountainous center, each area has new terrain to explore. If you’re looking for somewhere to sit and contemplate life while staring out at the waves crashing against the shore, head to Inno-Jofuta, where spectacle-shaped limestone formations serve as a dramatic backdrop to your meditations. 

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