Cultural Crossroads

Kyushu’s international character finds delightful expression in its cuisine, which has more exotic leanings than the fare in other parts of the country. It was in Kyushu that tempura was first served. Though many people think of tempura as a standard Japanese dish, it was in fact introduced by Europeans to the people of Kyushu in the seventeenth century.

The international nature of Kyushu’s cuisine is richly displayed in Nagasaki’s shippoku ryori
a fascinating fusion of Japanese and Chinese cuisines with some European influences thrown
in for good measure. The Kyushu city of Fukuoka is home to Hakata ramen, one of the most highly regarded kinds of ramen(a Japanese version of Chinese-style noodles) in the country.

Wonderful though it is, there is more to the culture of Kyushu than food. Kyushu also happens to be one of the world’s foremost ceramic centers, and the history of Japanese porcelain begins here. The area of Arita in Saga Prefecture has for centuries produced its perfectly exquisite
Kakiemon and Nabeshima ware. A number of foreign potters consider the techniques used in Kyushu for making ceramics to be the best anywhere and so choose to come here to refine
their craft.

For some people, though, the region’s modern contributions to culture are much more interesting than the traditional ones. Known as the “Empress of Pop” because of her enormous
influence and popularity in Japan and the rest of Asia is recording artist Ayumi Hamasaki, who was born and raised in Fukuoka and is one of the best-selling Japanese singers of all time.
In a different pop cultural vein, Kagoshima-born Takehiko Inoue is the creator of the sports-themed manga series Slam Dunk, which is one of the most successful-ever such series.