Kyushu is a volcanic island in the south of Japan with some pretty epic coastlines, incredible waterfalls and several towns that are renowned for their volcanic hot spring activity. Kyushu is a great region for those who enjoy adventure, like to delve into the culture and get a little bit off the beaten path. I spent three weeks exploring the island of Kyushu by car and in this blog post, I’m going to share with you my favorite Kyushu photos from my adventure.
Throughout this Kyushu photo gallery, I will write a small explanation above each image to give you some background on where I was, how the image came about or any interesting points regarding the location.
All of these shots were captured on my DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone, Sony a7Riii with a 24-105mm f4 and 16-35mm f4. For a detailed description of all the photo gear I use, what backpack I carry it in and my favorite accessories, I’ve written this comprehensive guide to what I use and why: MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK
50 AWESOME PHOTOS OF KYUSHU, JAPAN
Our first day in Kyushu started with a hike around the back of Mt. Aso. Turns out it’s highly illegal, highly dangerous and probably shouldn’t have done that had I known how quickly a volcano can destroy everything in its vicinity. Live and learn but we survived just fine, nothing erupted and we had an epic adventure.
This is Mt. Aso erupting but it’s in a pretty normal state. When it really erupts it is going wild.
When the official trail to Mt. Aso is closed, things get a little crazy
Shooting down on Mt. Aso and in the next frame you can see the photograph I took from here.
This is the best shot I have of the entire volcanic crater at Mt. Aso as it was blowing pretty hard.
This is probably the other nice shot I have of the entire volcano. This one was shot on the drone. We were hiking up on those ridges to the left.
Pema wondering why she was dragged out to the edge of a volcano.
One of the most epic adventures of the year so far for sure as the backdrop was everchanging and always threatening.
Looking out over the volcano as the sun started to set. Not another person in sight.
This was definitely the shot of the day, which I captured on my 100-400mm lens. It’s a heavy thing to lug around but it’s shots like this that make it worth it.
I snapped a few other shots from this same spot on the 100-400 as the volcano plumed in the background.
This is the winding road to Mt. Aso. I didn’t expect snow in this region but it actually snows alot in the winter here in Kyushu.
This is Gorogo Taki Waterfall, famous for the rainbow that appears at its base. A little gem in the inner mountains of Kyushu.
This gorge near the waterfall above reminded me a lot of canyon treks in Cebu, Philippines.
Another epic little waterfall that we lucked out on as the golden light was hitting perfectly just as we arrived in the late afternoon. Sometimes you get lucky and other days it rains on you nonstop. Take ’em while you can.
This is a 10th century stone buddha found out in the jungle in Oita, Kyushu. it involves a little hike but it felt a bit like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider to find such a relic covered in trees, roots and vines.
The golden light while hiking up Mount Neko, a series of ridges I spotted days earlier while up on Mt. Aso nearby.
Everything is quite dead here during the winter, which makes me wish I had visited in the summer, spring or even fall for the autumn colors.
Another shot of the golden light shooting over the peak of Mount Neko. I was freezing cold at this point if you can’t tell.
Pema pushing on up to the summit of Mount Neko. How’s the color coordination?
These next three shots are from one of the most touristy and popular waterfalls on Kyushu Island. However, it is probably the most picturesque and beautiful waterfall so it makes sense that tourists flock here. I got lucky again with the golden light and tried to make the most of it.
Getting up high in the Kuju Mountains over a glacier lake.
Made it to the top of Mount Kuju and that is Mount Aso erupting in the background.
And finally, there was this beautiful trail to the waterfall you see below.
Onbara Falls, probably my favorite waterfall in Oita. Tucked in away around the corner we almost missed it thinking the falls on the left were the actual main attraction, but thankfully, we had the adventurous spirit and found it hidden around the bend.
I loved this view from Mount Taharayam overlooking the rolling hills in Oita prefecture.
At the top of the windy Mount Kaimon, I threw the drone up to capture the coast and the top of the hill in one shot.
How scenic was my parking spot for the Mount Kaimon hike?
The trail on the Mount Kaimon hike was probably my favorite throughout the three weeks, which was due to how green and tropical it looked!
To be honest, I wasn’t stoked with this shot I got from atop Mount Kaimon but it was just so damn huge it was hard to capture even after flying 2-kilometers away in the wind. I think it would have been better to drive away and fly it up from further away to truly capture the scenery. However, I did my best and still came out with this shot.
Golden hour in the Kuju mountains was just incredible. Look at the colors on the ridge and then that last bit of light hitting the mountain in the background. This is why getting back to the car in the dark is always worth it!
I struggled a bit with the lighting in the middle of the day but I wanted to get a nice, wide landscape shot of these mountain ranges as they truly are stunning. It didn’t turn out perfectly lighting wise but it still sums up the scene well.
It was super harsh lighting but probably the best view I had of the active Sakurajima volcano throughout my trip. I quickly pulled into the Susuhara viewpoint on my way to a waterfall to snap this on my 24-105mm with a bit of foreground in play.
Keya No Oto was an epic little coastal hike we came across while based in Fukuoka. We didn’t know what to expect but it was one of the most photogenic spots in Kyushu.
As enticing as this hot spring looks it as actually referred to as a ‘Hell’ due to the fiery temperature that would basically burn you alive.
This is the largest suspension bridge in Japan both in length and in height over the gorge. The security didn’t love our drones, to be honest, but a bit of hide-and-seek and I managed to come away with these two shots that I thought were not bad considering the lighting and the rush of the situation.
On the edge of the Mount Aso crater (caldera), there are lots of viewpoints. With it being winter the grass was all dead, which didn’t help for photography and nor did visiting at 1 pm but we made the most of the beautiful scene to capture these shots.
The Kamoshikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is hidden in the forests near Takamori, which is a little town in the Aso region of Kumamoto. It’s a very spiritual spot with lots of different spots to make prayers, receive good luck and perform a ritual.
These are a few more of the waterfall snaps I shot on my last gloomy day down south in Japan. To be honest, I almost prefer no light when I’m shooting waterfalls so things don’t get blown out. It obviously depends on the location but a canyon with harsh lighting is a nightmare.
The next set of photos is from the lake viewpoint in Kirishima looking back out over Mount Karakuni on the other side of the lakes. It was just before sunset and I was all alone up here feeling pretty free and wild in this volatile environment.
Up on top of Mount Karakuni, I had a view of the ‘Ring of Fire’, which is an active volcano. You can’t hike on it cause it really blew it’s lid just recently but you can fly your drone out there (probably, maybe) and I ended up with some ripper shots in perfect conditions. These were the luckiest conditions with blue skies but atmospheric clouds.
I’d carried the 100-400mm with me on most treks in Kyushu so being able to play around with it and shoot birds and animals whenever I encountered them was the reward for the heavy load.
It seems unfair for these photos to be at the bottom of the blog post, but it was one of the last spots I visited. This set of photos is from Takachiho Gorge, the most popular spot in Kyushu with a beautiful gorge that has a stunning waterfall inside. I was super stoked to get great conditions here and I was really happy with the photos I managed to create at this spot.
That’s about it! I hope you enjoyed this gallery of my favorite Kyushu photos from my 3-week adventure around this incredible island in the south of Japan.