Where I Live (pt 1)
According to Paul Hunt’s Hiking in Japan, in early human development in the Middle East, the term Asia came from the word for East (Asu) and the term for Europe came the word for West (Eleb). Indeed the Japanese name for Japan is Nippon or Nihon, meaning “origin of the sun” or “land of the rising sun”. Marco Polo was the first Westerner to learn of the land, from the Chinese, who called it Jihpan or Jihpangu.
I live on Kyushu, the southern most of the four main islands in Japan that claim 97% of Japan’s total area. Total population of Kyushu is 15 million over 35,640 km² (versus my home state of Iowa which is 3 million people over 145,743 km²). It is also the 37th largest island in the world.
Today it is divided into seven prefectures (Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Oita, and Saga, plus the islands of Okinawa to the south). Main cities include Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima.
The people of Kyushu are reputedly hard drinkers and outstandingly friendly- a visit to a local bar may provide examples of both.
–Lonely Planet Japan (2005)
Kyushu is considered the birth place of Japanese civilization as it contains the oldest archaeological remains in the country.
The climate is subtropical and the terrain is forested mountains, but there are some nice beaches. The mountains here are home to Japan’s most active volcano, Mt. Aso. The abundance of volcanic activity mean natural hot springs (onsen) are plentiful.
More in part 2 about my prefecture (Oita) and town (Hiji)!