Great Walks has just returned from a week-long hiking and cultural tour of Kyushu, southern Japan.
When most people think of Japan images of bustling Tokyo, Mount Fuji and maybe winter snowboarding trips come to mind.
But Kyushu offers a different type of Japanese experience. Firstly it's off the tourist map. In the week we were there we saw 3 or 4 other western tourists - and this was in the middle of the Rugby World Cup!
The majority of western tourists go to the more well known islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.
Kyushu is mountainous and home to Japan's most active volcano, Mt Aso (1,591m). There are many other signs of tectonic activity, including numerous areas of hot springs.
The most famous of these are in Beppu, on the east shore, and around Mt. Aso, in central Kyushu. The island is separated from Honshu by the Kanmon Straits.
And its the thermal qualities of the island that make it a stand-out. There are many towns, like NZ's Roturua, that feature bubbly mud pools and these natural hot spring waters.
The pools that house the hot springs are called onsens and a visit to an onsen is a highlight of any trip to Kyushu.
But be prepared for a bit of nudity.
Onsens are separated into mens and womens and you're expected to go into the soothing hot baths in your birthday suits so there isn't much room for our Australian modesty over there.
But once you're in the waters enjoying the hot springs everything else is forgotten.
Another Kyushu highlight is the many walking trails that takes you through a huge variety of Kyushu's varied topography.
And as these photos attests there's plenty to experience on foot - as well as the many culinary and cultural highlights.
For more info on Kyushu click here.