Japan’s southern islands, Chogoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu are home to rural regions where sustained Japanese culture defines the landscape than imperial palaces or shrines. With dazzling strips of coastline along the inland sea, creative outposts like Naoshima Island, and the powerful presence of WWII memorials at Hiroshima and Okinawa, the Japan southern islands add a new layer of depth and breadth to a vacation in Japan.

Naoshima Island, home to the Benesse Contemporary Art site has become a destination for art lovers from around the world. The island itself is your museum, with art installations dotting the landscape without ceremony or formality. Even on holidays, you can often find yourself alone with some of the more well-hidden pieces. The island’s museums house a breathtaking collection of the contemporary masters from Donald Judd to James Turrell. The buildings, primarily designed by celebrated architect Tadao Ando, become part of the landscape and the art, making it an immersive experience from the moment you step onto the island.

Once you’ve absorbed the abundance of creativity at Naoshima, the rugged beauty of Shikoku offers reflective space to wander, explore, and enjoy an authentic Japan where you can find solitude or cheerful company whenever you want it.

WWII enthusiasts will find plenty of lore, history and fascination on Chogoku, where you can visit Hiroshima and the memorials there, as well as Kyushu the cradle of Japanese civilization and military history. This is where the Yamato tribe first established the territory that would become modern Japan. It has been the entryway for Chinese and Korean culture, and the launching point for the Japanese empire. In spite of all of this history, it remains quiet and laid-back, even in its major cities.

The smaller island chains to the south include numerous natural and historically significant sites. Your Ker & Downey consultant can help you determine which of these remote jewels is the perfect fit to complete your vacation in Japan.