Why is Kyushu called Kyushu?

First of all, lets start with the meaning of the kanji. The kanji "kyuu" ( 九 ) means "nine". And the kanji for "shu" ( 州 ) means "state". Literally "nine states".

But

Kyushu has 7 prefectures, or ken ( 県 ) in Japanese: (Okinawa isn't and never was a part of Kyushu).
  1. Fukuoka - ( 福岡 )
  2. Kagoshima - ( 鹿児島 )
  3. Kumamoto - ( 熊本 )
  4. Miyazaki - ( 宮崎 )
  5. Nagasaki - ( 長崎 )
  6. Oita - ( 大分 )
  7. Saga - ( 佐賀 )
So, why isn't the island named "Nanashu" you might wonder?! As Shikoku has 4 prefectures you know! ("shi" = 4, "koku" = country.)

That is because from way back in the 700's, and up to the Meiji Restoration, there were a total of 9 states, all with different names from their current prefectures.

  1. Bungo - the middle and southern part of present day Oita prefecture
  2. Buzen - the eastern part of Fukuoka prefecture and north part of Oita
  3. Chikuzen - the northern and western parts of Fukuoka
  4. Chikugo - the southern part of Fukuoka
  5. Higo - Kumamoto prefecture
  6. Hizen - all of Saga and Nagasaki (except Iki and Tsushima islands) prefectures
  7. Hyuuga - Miyazaki prefecture
  8. Oosumi - eastern part of Kagoshima prefecture
  9. Satsuma - western part of Kagoshima

After the Meiji Restoration, all of the names were changed and some of the boundaries were changed. But the name Kyushu stuck.

And now you know, Kyushu!!!

* Japanese fonts are used in this wu, so you might experience mojibake.

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