The name Kyushu is a descendant of its ancient name, Kyukoku which means nine states. Kyushu is the southernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. It is also the third largest island. Its position in the archipelago and its numerous natural ports are what have shaped the history and culture of Kyushu. Therefore the biggest cities of Kyushu its port cities. These include

The city of Fukuoka from sea.
  • Fukuoka - The largest city of Kyushu and the main transport hub.
  • Karatsu - Home to some of Kyushu's most famous pottery and seas
  • Kitakyushu - Kyushu's main port town.
  • Nagasaki - Japan's first port open to the west. Also the birthplace of the Mitsubishi company.


Kyushu's prime position as an industrial port as well as its rich industrial resources made it a point of contention throughout Japan's history. Some of Japan's most powerful clans such as the Taira clan came to power and derived their strength from Kyushu's riches.

The famous painting of the divine winds which destroyed the mongol fleet.

In 1274 when the Mongols looked further eastward they aimed to mount their attack on Japan from Kyushu. However both times they attacked and began to invade, typhoons struck their fleet. This earned the typhoons the name Kamikaze or "Divine Winds".

A schematic of the island of Dejima

One reason Kyushu became such an important port was that in the 17th century when almost all foreigners were expelled, only the Dutch and Chinese were allowed to continue to trade with the Japanese. The Dutch living in Japan were expelled to the artificial island of Dejima which resides in Nagasaki bay. This island was a eclectic mix of European and Japanese culture, it has since entered the pop culture as the setting of the book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell.

Nagasaki before and after the 1945 bombing.

During World War 2 Kyushu drove the naval power of Japan with massive ship yard and steelworks in Nagasaki and Fukuoka. This made it a prime target for American forces as they approached Japan. Therefore on August 9 1945, American planes carrying the atomic bomb Fat Man on seeing the Yawata steelworks obscured by clouds, proceeded to bomb Nagasaki which was their secondary target.


Kyushu despite its relatively small size has an impressively powerful economy. Its 435 billion dollar economy is 10% of Japan's GDP, and comparable to the Nederland's. It accounts for 20% of Japan's agricultural output, 25% of semiconductor production, and 10% of automobile production. It also leads shipbuilding production, and contains two space-launch facilities and Yaskawa Electric one of the worlds leading industrial robotics manufacturer.

Nagasaki Mitsubishi shipyards

Mitsubishi also was founded in the Kyushu port town of Nagasaki. Mitsubishi was and is a massive conglomerate making products varying from aerospace components, air conditioners, air crafts, automotive components, forklift trucks, hydraulic equipment, machine tools, missiles, power generation equipment, ships, and space launch vehicles. It began as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1891. It soon became the largest private firm in Japan, and contributed heavily to production for the Imperial Navy.




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