Northern Kyūshū’s national parks showcase the region’s numerous active volcanoes, spectacular mountain and coastal landscapes, countless islands, and steaming hot springs.
1. Unzen-Amakusa National Park (Nagasaki, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima Prefectures)
Mount Fugen as seen from the second observation post at Nita Pass. (Courtesy Kyūshū Tourism Promotion Organization)
Unzen National Park was established in 1934 as one of Japan’s first national reserves. In 1956, the Amakusa region in Kumamoto Prefecture was added to form the Unzen-Amakusa National Park. Visitors can enjoy a range of stirring landscapes, including Mount Unzen with its steaming hot spring resorts, the rugged coastline of the Shimabara Peninsula, and picturesque Amakusa and other islands in the Yatsushiro Sea.
Mount Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsula is surrounded by a cluster of more than 20 volcanic peaks. In the early 1990s, one of these, Fugen-dake, rumbled to life, triggering deadly pyroclastic flows and pushing out a giant lava dome that created what is now the highest peak, the 1,483-meter Heisei Shinzan. Setting at the top of the peninsula, the mountain offers ample opportunity to admire the surrounding rugged landscape and the deep blue sea…