When Europeans first visited Japan in the early 1500s it was the large island of Kyushu where they made landfall and began meeting both ordinary fishermen and farmers as well as the samurai and their lords. Kyushu was the gateway into Japan.
Yet Kyushu was more than just an entry point for Europeans. It was the stepping stone for prehistoric migrants to Japan who came from the Mongolian steppes and other parts of Asia. It was also the gateway for Chinese culture, tea, and rice cultivation.
A few years ago, Andrew Peter Thomson settled in Kyushu alone and began to explore. He found a host of things that elude the casual visitor - Christian samurai, Japan's first ancient rice field, its first tea bushes, yakuza gangsters, and where James Bond cleverly disguised himself as a Japanese fisherman.
These tales from Kyushu are mixed with Andrew's contemporary life with earthquakes, typhoons, and worries about the threat of North Korean missiles.
Bridge to The Gods: Tales from Kyushu is the best book by a 'foreigner' to come out of Japan in decades.
To understand this beautiful yet puzzling country you must understand Kyushu.