The Amami Islands (奄美群島) are a group of tropical islands in Kagoshima Prefecture about 300 km north of Okinawa and about 380 km south of Kyushu. Amami-Oshima (奄美大島) is the third largest (715 sq. km) of all offshore islands in Japan and is the most populous of the 8 inhabited islands in the group.
Beppu City (別府市) is the second largest city in Oita Prefecture. This tourism driven city is on the east coast of Kyushu and looks out from the centre of a wide bay onto the Seto Inland Sea. Oita City, Beppu's much larger and more serious companion, is on the south side of the same bay. The volcanic mountains behind the city to the west are the source of heat for the area's prodigious number of hot springs.
Fukuoaka City (福岡市), located on the northern end of Kyushu, is the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the centre of the largest metropolitan area to the west of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe trio. 2.5 million people (2005 census) live in the greater area.
The areas that merged to form the initial city agreed to call it Hakata City until a group of samurai burst into the meeting. At sword point, they told them they weren't accepting the name of a lower class merchant quarter and that they had better name it after the samurai quarter.
The former castle town of Kagoshima City (鹿児島市) is the cultural and economic heart of the southern end of the island of Kyushu. The stratovolcano, Sakurajima, is unmistakably the extraordinary local feature that draws tourists here. At its most active, you can look across the Kagoshima Bay to the east and see plumes of ash rising several times a day. The city is also famous for its rich food culture.
Kobe City (神戸市) in Hyogo Prefecture is the smallest city in the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe metropolis. Kobe City's place in modern history was established in 1868 when it was one of the first cities in Japan to be opened for foreign trade and residence. The heritage of this influx of foreign residents and trade is noticeable throughout the city. This is especially apparent in the Kitano and Nankinmachi (China Town) districts.