Before last month, I would have to be one of the few against the many jet-setting, err, millennials who haven’t visited Japan. I had three planned Japan trips last year only to see none of them take flight. Two were with friends, and one for work. I ditched the ones for leisure since I had thought I was going anyway for a magazine I used to work with; the latter, of course, would not push through. Thus, the Japanese National Tourism Organization’s (JNTO) invitation to visit the Land of the Rising Sun for myself and some members of the press last June couldn’t have been better timed.
Japan has become a hot destination among tourists in the recent years, with The Financial Times reporting a record-high of 7.2 million just in the second quarter of 2017. In the report, the Japan Tourism Agency credited the weakness of yen and the growing number of visiting Asian neighbors as main factors. No surprise then that Japan just reached its 2020 target of 20m annual tourists five years early. This overachieving country’s new goal now is 40m.
Once too expensive and off the beaten track, Japan—thanks to its very welcoming government and people, as I would myself realize—is something I’d say is a little mainstream. Pardon the term, but I’m surely not the only one bumping into Japanese symbols for geotags on his Instagram feed more frequent than before. Yet while you and I already see a lot of posts featuring Japan’s more popular, cherry blossoms-adorned cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, the country still boasts of more places to visit. Its southwestern region of Kyushu, in particular, is a sight to behold with its rich history, picturesque townscapes, and Japanese-trademark shy yet friendly people. The Kyushu community breathes in subtropical climate while bathing in serene ambiance.
The rains came in when I went it there with JNTO last June, but not crazy and cold enough to hinder me from seeing the vast beauty that was. Click on the gallery to see what you'd also expect when aiming for a different kind of adventure in Japan!
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Photographs by the author | Special thanks to