Recently I attended an event in London about Kyushu (九州), Japan’s third largest island. It was a great opportunity to learn more about a part of Japan I haven’t yet visited, and I found it very inspiring. Kyushu has so much to offer – from delicious food to traditional towns, hot springs to nature. It was great to meet representatives from the various parts of the island, and everyone I encountered was really friendly.
In true Japanese style I was lucky enough to receive some gifts, or ‘omiyage’ (souvenirs), from Kyushu to bring home with me. The first is a cute ‘geta‘ (下駄) shaped charm. Geta are traditional Japanese wooden clogs. They are made all over Japan, but I guess Kyushu must produce a lot of them too. this charm is from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県).
There were a lot of different kinds of sake from all over Kyushu available to taste on the night. The ones I tried were delicious! I’m not much of a sake drinker really, but in case I decide to take it up I now have my very own sake cup:
One of my favourite gifts was this beautiful decoration called a Yanagawa-mari. Yanagawa (柳川市) is a city in Fukuoka Prefecture (福岡県), and these decorations are traditional products of this area. The decorations are used for New Year and also the Doll’s Festival on 3rd March (Hinamatsuri / 雛祭り). The different colours in the ball are said to represent the parents’ wish for their child.
Finally, here’s my favourite gift which I won in a business card raffle…
This beautiful glass is from Saga Prefecture (佐賀県), and is made by a company called Hizen Vidro (肥前びーどろ). The company has been making glass since 1852, and is well-known for its glass blowing techniques. Glasses such as this are made without the use of any moulds and with very few tools. Usually a metal pipe is used for glass blowing, but this particular company uses a glass pipe called a ‘tomozao’ instead.
This glass is so beautiful, and looks different each time the light catches it. I’m very lucky to have this precious souvenir from Kyushu in my house.
So, if you go to Kyushu, be sure to leave a little extra space in your suitcase for all the lovely souvenirs you’re going to want to buy!