Travel through Kyushu in search of delicious foods!

The Kyushu region, which is located in the southwestern part of the Japanese archipelago, consists of seven prefectures (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima) and their islands. Each of these seven prefectures has many local food ingredients and its own unique dishes.

Fukuoka Prefecture: The home of pork bone ramen noodles

Fukuoka Prefecture produces famous brand name strawberries such as “Amaou” and “Hakata Toyonoka”. There is also an abundance of seafood products here as it faces bodies of water such as the Genkai Sea and Suonada Sea.

There are many well-known dishes from Kyushu, but “pork bone ramen noodles” are particularly famous. Its soup with broth made by boiling pork bone is very rich and now popular among many people even abroad. It is said to have originated at a stall in front of JR Kurume Station in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Kurume ramen noodles
The soup in Kurume ramen noodles is rich but also light at the same time.

Dishes made with beef and pork offal such as “horumon” and “motsu” are popular in Kyushu. “Motsunabe” is made by boiling intestines (motsu) together with vegetables such as cabbage. It originated as a local Fukuoka dish but has spread all throughout Japan.

A serving of the popular Motsunabe in Fukuoka Prefecture with broth derived from intestines and plenty of vegetables.

Saga Prefecture: Blessings from the sea and brand-name beef

Seafood products caught in the Ariake Sea in Saga Prefecture are called “Maeumimon” by the locals. There are many types of products such as turban shell and other shellfish such as clams, gazami (crab) and mantis shrimp, shiba shrimp, and fish such as sea bass and gizzard shad. A dish that is particularly popular with tourists is “Hamayaki”, which is fresh seafood such as turban shell and oysters char-grilled in their shells.

Hamayaki with char-grilled foods such as turban shell is particularly popular with tourists.

It is said that there are over 200 brands of beef in Japan. “Saga-gyu” (Saga beef) of Saga Prefecture is one of them. It is a type of Japanese black beef and is known for its tender texture and fine marbled fat.

Saga-gyu Steak
Steak is a recommended way of enjoying quality Saga-gyu

Nagasaki Prefecture: Course meals with a deep history and the flavors enjoyed by the common people

Nagasaki Prefecture, which has historically served as the gateway to foreign lands, offers many unique local dishes. “Shippoku” dishes are served on large plates as course meals. They are a fusion of Japanese, Chinese, and Western foods and known to be served on round tables for multiple guests to enjoy. On the round tables of Shippoku dishes are assorted sashimi, bean dishes, sweets such as bean jelly, Tonpo-ni (boiled pork), Hashito (shrimp toast), tempura, and more. There are also boiled vegetables, soups, watery sweets, and so on.

Shippoku dishes
Shippoku dishes include everything from appetizers and main dishes to desserts.

“Chanpon”, which is a famous Nagasaki dish, is another meal that is popular with tourists. It also looks extravagant with its special thick noodles and plenty of toppings such as vegetables and seafood. Its popularity also lies in its healthfulness, as its plentiful vegetables can be enjoyed deliciously.

Chanpon noodles
Chanpon noodles are relatively thick and go well with the vegetables

Oita Prefecture: Favorite Oita chicken dishes

Oita Prefecture is blessed with fresh ingredients such as the “Seki aji” and “Seki saba” brands of mackerel that can be caught in the Bungo Channel, as well as the “Kabosu” citrus fruit. One of the more popular local dishes among the people of Oita Prefecture is chicken tempura, which is known as “Toriten”. Bite-sized pieces of chicken are flavored, battered with wheat flour mixed with water, and deep-fried. It is enjoyed dipped in sauce such as Ponzu sauce (made with soy sauce and citrus juice).

Restaurant “Touyouken” in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, is said to be the birthplace of Toriten and even attracts many tourists. However, Toriten is a dish that can now be found in every restaurant in Oita Prefecture.

Toriten is a simple dish but brings out all the delicious flavors of chicken

Kumamoto Prefecture: A land full of historic local dishes

Kumamoto Prefecture, which is located in the center of Kyushu, has an abundance of nature with the dairy lands of the Aso region, many blessings from the waters of Amakusa, and more.

“Karashi-renkon” (lotus root with mustard) is a local dish of Kumamoto Prefecture. It was originally made as health food for the lord of the Kumamoto Domain in the 17th century and said to have been kept a secret behind the castle gates. It is a dish where the holes of a lotus root are filled with a mustard and miso paste made with ingredients such as miso, powdered mustard, and honey. The lotus root is then covered with a batter made with wheat flour and turmeric, and deep-fried in oil. It used to be a local dish that was served at homes on special occasions such as during the New Year’s holidays, but now there are shops that specialize in it and the dish is also known as a standard gift to take back from trips to Kumamoto.

The flavor of the mustard stands out in the bright yellow lotus root with mustard.
The flavor of the mustard stands out in the bright yellow lotus root with mustard.

“Takamori-dengaku”, which is a local dish from Takamori Town in Kumamoto Prefecture’s Aso District, is said to have been enjoyed since the Kamakura Period (around 1,185 to 1,333). Skewered ingredients are basted with miso and char-grilled. It is popular for the aroma of the miso and flavor of the slowly cooked ingredients. It is a traditional dish that lets you enjoy seasonal ingredients.

Takamori-dengaku, which lets you enjoy blessings from the mountains such as seasonal vegetables and freshwater fish

Miyazaki Prefecture: The local “Jidokko” chicken here is the representative chicken of Japan

Miyazaki Prefecture is a land with a prosperous farming and poultry raising industry. Famous vegetables and fruits here include the “Hyuga Kabocha”, which is a Japanese species of pumpkin that has been around since ancient times, and the “Hyuganatsu”, which is a citrus fruit that is indigenous to Miyazaki. The “Miyazaki Jidokko” is a famous brand of chicken. Jidokko is a native chicken that has been cultivated in such as Mt. Kirishima in Japan for ages. It was once a rare bird with a low production rate, but has been modified as an original bird species since 1985. It is now produced in larger numbers, shipped all throughout Japan, and has become a popular specialty of Miyazaki Prefecture. A recommended way of enjoying it is char-grilled as this brings out the delicious flavors of the meat.

Miyazaki Jidokko
Miyazaki Jidokko has a pleasant texture and is known to produce fine flavors as it is chewed

“Chicken-nanban” (Nanban-style chicken) is another local dish of Miyazaki Prefecture. It is battered chicken that is deep-fried in oil, flavored with sweet vinegar sauce, and served with tartar sauce. The combination of the juicy chicken that has a refreshing sweet and sour flavor with the rich tartar sauce makes it not only go well with rice, but as a snack to enjoy with beer as well.

Chicken-nanban is a popular dish that is enjoyed by both children and adults alike

Kagoshima Prefecture: A local dish made with Kurobuta pork, which is a specialty of the prefecture

Kagoshima Prefecture is a land that has had a prosperous livestock industry for ages. “Kagoshima Kurobuta” pork is one of the representative brands of Kagoshima pork. “Kurobuta-tonkotsu” (Kurobuta pork with bone) is a local dish of Kagoshima Prefecture that uses Kurobuta pork meat. The pork meat with bone is boiled for several hours with ingredients such as daikon radish, konnyaku, brown sugar, Kagoshima miso, and shochu. Boiling it for a long period of time removes the odor and gives it a rich flavor. It used to be served as a dish at banquets, and that is why it is now popular as a side dish for alcoholic beverages.

The pork that has been boiled for a long time is tender and has a deep flavor (C)Kagoshima Prefecture
The pork that has been boiled for a long time is tender and has a deep flavor (C)Kagoshima Prefecture

“Satsuma-age” fish cake is another famous local dish of Kumamoto Prefecture. Satsuma-age fish cake is a dish where ground fish meat is deep-fried in oil. “Kamaboko” is another Japanese dish made with ground fish, but it is said that Satsuma-age fish cake was introduced to Satsuma (today’s western Kagoshima Prefecture) through Ryukyu (today’s Okinawa) from China. There are various types of Satsuma-age fish cake such as those where ground fish is mixed with vegetables such as beans.

 Satsuma-age fish cake
There are various types of Satsuma-age fish cake such as those where ground fish is mixed with beans

Pay a visit to Kyushu, where you can enjoy various types of foods

The Kyushu region offers many kinds of local dishes as it has various forms of traditional culture as well as an abundance of agricultural and marine products. See the various kinds of foods that Kyushu has to offer.