Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands.Its alternate ancient names include Kyūkoku,Chinzei,"West of the Pacified Area"), and Tsukushi-no-Shima, "Island of Tsukushi"). The historical regional name is Saikaidō, lit. West Sea Circuit) referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands.In the 8th century Taihō Code reforms, Dazaifu was established as a special administrative term for the region.
The island is mountainous, and Japan's most active volcano, Mt Aso at 1,591 metres (5,220 ft), is on Kyushu. 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 name Kyūshū comes from the nine ancient provinces of Saikaidō situated on the island: Chikuzen, Chikugo, Hizen, Higo, Buzen, Bungo, Hyūga, Osumi, and Satsuma.