Travel Kyushu in 7 days with a Japan Rail Pass

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Tags: flowersfukuokagourmetkagoshimakyushumuseumsnagasakioitaonsenshrinesthemeparkstransportation

One of the largest islands in Japan, Kyushu is made up of 7 prefectures. Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Oita and Saga; whereas in the south are Kagoshima and Miyazaki.

Kyushu is also known as the heart of cultural Japan, mostly because much of the Japanese culture and heritage are still retained to this day. Surprisingly, there are some foreign attractions worth checking out too. In this article, I will show you how you can travel Kyushu in 7 days by using a cost-saving method, which is the JR Pass.

JR Kyushu Rail Pass

JR Passes for the Kyushu region are only offered for a 3-day and 5-day package. There are 3 types of rail passes available, which are;

  1. All Kyushu
    • 3-day: 15,000 yen
    • 5-day: 18,000 yen
  2. Northern Kyushu
    • 3-day: 8,500 yen
    • 5-day: 10,000 yen
  3. Southern Kyushu
    • 3-day: 7,000 yen

For my one week travel, I used one All Kyushu 5-day pass. This JR Pass covers the cost of travel on local trains, express trains, and specific shinkansen or bullet train routes. To save time, I travel mostly using the express train and shinkansen whenever it is possible.

Click here to purchase JR Pass.

Travel Itinerary

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
AM Fukuoka Airport Huis Ten Bosch > Nagasaki Nagasaki > Kumamoto Kumamoto > Kagoshima Kagoshima > Oita  Oita Oita > Fukuoka Airport
PM Fukuoka > Huis Ten Bosch Nagasaki Kumamoto Kagoshima Oita  Oita

Day 1

Before I started my travel, I activated my 5-day All Kyushu JR Pass at Hakata’s JR Kyushu Ticket Office, which opens at 7 AM.

Getting to Hakata Station:
Fukuoka Airport > Hakata Station (Kuko Line)

  • Travel duration: 5 mins.

After that, I head off to Fukuoka Tower right to get a bird’s eye view of the city. One of the best things about JR Pass is that you are entitled to discounts at certain places of attractions and restaurants, and at Fukuoka Tower, I got a 20% discount on the entry ticket. Fukuoka Tower is also the highest seaside tower in Japan, so I was enthralled by the city view I see from the observation deck.

Fukuoka Tower
Address: 2-3-26 Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka-city
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 9:30 PM (last entry)
Fukuoka Tower Entry Fee (for foreigners): 512 yen (after discount)

Getting to Fukuoka Tower:
From JR Hakata Station > Hakata Bus Terminal > Nishitetsu Bus #302 > Fukuoka Tower (Minamiguchi)

  • Travel duration: 25 mins.

Fukuoka Tower.
Image credit: Martin Lopatka on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

After spending an hour there, I decided to explore the nearby area by foot. There is a Momochihama Beach and Fukuoka City Museum just a stone throw away,  so I walked there. By the time I was done with visiting the museum, it is already about 3 PM.

Momochihama Beach
Address: 2-4 Momochihama Sawara-kuFukuoka 814-0001, Fukuoka Prefecture
Opening Hours: always opened

Fukuoka City Museum
Address: 3-1-1, Momochihama, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka
Opening Hours: 9.30 AM – 5.00 PM (last entry), closed on Mondays
Fee: 200 yen

Momochihama Beach.
Image credit: Hiromichi Torihara on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Fukuoka City Museum.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

I boarded the bus again at the Fukuoka Tower to go back to Hakata Station and begin my journey to Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki. Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch theme park filled with Dutch architecture buildings and attractions. I spent the rest of my day there looking at colourful flowers, exploring the park and enjoyed the night illumination.  There are many attractions here and some of the popular ones include going on a gondola tour, visiting the owl forest, and there is even a replica of the Netherland’s Palace here!

I am lucky to get myself a train seat in the non-reserved section when I come to Huis Ten Bosch. If you are travelling here during peak periods (e.g. the Tulip Festival from mid-February – mid-April), I recommend you to reserve a seat in advance. I spent my night staying in a lodging nearby to ease my travel tomorrow.

Do take note JR Pass holders are entitled to a 5% discount for a 1-day pass entry to Huis Ten Bosch, so it was pretty worth it.

Huis Ten Bosch
Address: 1-1 Huis Ten Bosch-cho, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture 859-3292
Opening Hours: 9.30 AM – 5.30 PM
1-Day Entry Fee: 6,650 yen (after discount)
2-Day Entry Fee: 12,400 yen
3-Day Entry Fee: 16,100 yen

Getting to Huis Ten Bosch:
JR Hakata Station > JR Limited Express Huis Ten Bosch

  • Travel duration: 2 hours
  • Refer to the train schedule here

Tulips in full bloom.
Image credit: Martin Lewison on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A sitting area in the middle of a tulip field.
Image credit: ハウステンボス / HUIS TEN BOSCH on Facebook

Gondola tour.
Image credit: SPQR Photography on Facebook.

Inside the owl forest.
Image credit: ハウステンボス / HUIS TEN BOSCH on Facebook

Night illumination.
Image credit: Martin Lewison on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Day 2

I started my second day by travelling to Nagasaki Peace Park in central Nagasaki. This park is dedicated to the victims perished during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki back in World War II. From Huis Ten Bosch Station, I travelled to Urakami Station and switched to tram because the tram’s station is closer to the park. Trams are useful transportations here but the cost of the transport is not covered by my JR Pass.

Nagasaki Peace Park
Address: Matsuyamamachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 852-8118, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours

Getting to central Nagasaki:
JR Huis Ten Bosch Station > JR Urakami Station (Omura Line) > Urakamiekimae Station (take Nagasaki Denki No. 1) > Matsuyamamachi Station

  • Travel duration: 1 hour 30 mins.

Trams are a common local transportation in Nagasaki.
Image credit: Rashaad Jorden on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Nagasaki Peace Park’s iconic statue.
Image credit: David Stanley on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Later on, I went to Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown to check out Chinese delicacies and also to have lunch. I walked to this place and it is lined with many shops and restaurants. After that, I walked around to explore the areas nearby such as the famous Megane Bridge, Dutch slope, Glover Garden, and I stumble upon the famous Castella cake!

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
Address: 10-13 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0842, Japan
Opening Hours: 10 AM – 9 PM

Getting to Chinatown:
JR Urakami Station > JR Nagasaki Station

  • Travel duration: 10 mins.

Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown.
Image credit: Alexis Lê-Quôc on Facebook

Megane Bridge in Nagasaki is well known because of the unique reflection of the bridge on the river. With the right weather and lighting, the bridge and its reflection in the water will look like a pair of spectacles.

Megane Bridge
Address: Uonomachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0874, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Fee: Free

Megane Bridge.
Image credit: hkflc on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Nagasaki is a place that was heavily influenced by foreign influence in the past and hence there are a number of western buildings and culture that could be observed from this city. When I went to Dutch Slope, I noticed that this is a district with foreign houses.

Dutch Slope
Address: Higashiyamatemachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0911, Japan
Opening Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM
Fee: Free

Dutch Slope.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Glover Garden is basically mansions of former foreign residents. These mansions are converted into open-air museums opened to the public and the interiors are preserved to this day.

Glover Garden
Address: 8-1 Minami-Yamatemachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8 AM – 7.30 PM (24 April to 9 Oct.), 8 AM – 8 PM (23 Oct. to 21 Dec), 8 AM – 9 PM (22 Dec to 25 Dec), 8 AM – 8 PM (26 Dec to 27 Dec.), 8 AM – 6 PM (all other periods)
Fee: 610 yen

Glover Garden.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Castella, a famous sponge cake from Nagasaki.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Day 3

I took the Hakata’s limited express train to the Tosu Station and then board the shinkansen to Kumamoto.

Getting to Kumamoto:
JR Nagasaki Station > JR Tosu Station (Kamome Line) > JR Kumamoto (Kyushu Shinkansen)

  • Travel duration: 2 hours 5 mins.

By the time I reached Kumamoto Station, it was just before lunchtime, so I grabbed a quick lunch and began exploring Kumamoto. As a result of Kumamoto earthquake, many buildings and areas are damaged or undergoing repairs, including the famed Kumamoto Castle.

There is this interesting Contemporary Art Museum in Kumamoto that caught my attention. There are pretty cool art exhibits, for example, an illusion like this swimming pool that you could breathe underneath. Besides that, there is also a miniature of Kumamoto city which is loved by the young and the old.

Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto
Address: 2-3 Kamitori-cho, Chuou-ku, Kumamoto city, 860-0845 Japan
Opening Hours: 10 AM –  8 PM
Closed: Tuesdays
Fee: 1000 yen

Getting Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto:
Kumamoto Station > Torichosuji Station (Kumamoto Shiden A Line)

  • Travel duration 20 mins.

Note: Access to this museum is not available with the JR train line. From Kumamoto Station, take the Kumamoto Shiden A Line (non-JR line) to Torichosuji Station.

An illusion trick of a fake swimming pool.
Image credit: nhayashida on Flickr / / CC BY 2.0

There was still half a day left to explore, so I went to Sakuranobaba Josaien to explore the local specialities and snacks. Located just nearby Kumamoto Castle, this is a place to shop for souvenirs. I passed by the Kumamoto Castle, which was closed for repair until further notice. Although I did not visit the castle, I caught a glimpse of the building while I was on my way to Sakuranobaba.

When I was at Sakuranobaba Josaisen, it reminded me of the row of shops outside the Kaminarimon in Tokyo – a place to buy snacks and window shop. Although I could not visit Kumamoto Castle, my time was well spent here.

Sakuranobaba Josaien
Address: 1-1-1 Ninomaru, Chuo, Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture 860-0008, Japan
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 10 PM

Getting to Sakuranobaba Josaien:
8-minute walk from Torichosuji Station

Sakuranobaba Josaien.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

After that, I went to Greenland – Kyushu’s largest amusement park. There are about 80 attractions so it’s not easy to get bored! Roller coaster and observation wheel are of course available here, but I would say one of the highlights is the Dinosaur Coaster, which is one of the longest roller coasters in Japan. If you find it confusing how to get the bus, I recommend you to ask someone nearby. I spent my time here until the park closed.

The general 1-Day entrance fee is 1,600 yen, but do take note that some rides in the park require you to pay extra fees. I do advise you to inquire before you take the rides.

Address: Midorigaoka, Arao-shi, Kumamoto
Opening Hours: 9.30 AM – 5.30 PM
Fee: 1,600 yen (adults), 800 yen (children & senior citizen age 60 and older)

Getting to Greenland:
Torichosuji Station > Kumamoto Station > Arao Station (Kagoshima Line) > Arao bus (Arao Line)

  • Travel duration: 2 hours

Some of the attractions at Greenland.
Image credit: Jeremy Thompson on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Day 4

Today, I made a long trip to Kagoshima with the shinkansen. The cost is covered by my JR Pass so it was pretty worth it. Since I was expected to reach my destination in the afternoon, I bought a bento for lunch on the shinkansen.

Getting to Kagoshima:
JR Kumamoto Station (Kyushu Shinkansen) > JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station (Kyushu Shinkansen)

  • Travel duration: 1 hour

I reached the Kagoshima-Chuo Station at about lunchtime and the first location I went to was the exciting Kagoshima Water Front Park nearby the station. Nearby the park, there is the Kagoshima City Aquarium, which I took the opportunity to visit. This prefecture also has trams lines like Nagasaki which are very convenient, but the cost of trams tickets are not included in the JR Pass.

Kagoshima Water Front Park
Address: 5-4 Honkoshinmachi, Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0814, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours

Getting to Kagoshima Water Front Park (from tram station):
7 mins. walk away from Asahidori Station

A view of Sakirajima from the Water Front.
Image credit: Le Japon de Mélanie et Julien on Facebook

Kagoshima City Aquarium
Address: 3-1 Honkoshinmachi, Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0814, Japan
Opening Hours: 9.30 – 6 PM
Fee: 1,500 yen

Getting to Kagoshima City Aquarium:
6 mins. walk away from Kagoshima Water Front Park

Kagoshima Aquarium.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

After 2 hours there, I went to the scenic UNESCO Heritage Site Senganen Garden for sightseeing and then stopped over at the Museum of Meiji Restoration. Do take note that JR Pass holders are eligible for a 50 yen entrance discount for Senganen Garden.

Senganen Garden is truly beautiful with a spectacular view of Sakurajima in sight. The garden is also very well-kept and maintained, making it seems like a tranquillity. Besides that, there is a bit to explore in this area, as there are outdoor landmarks like an ancient canon, a cat shrine and even Lord Shimadzu’s residence.

Senganen Garden
Address: 9700-1 Yoshinocho, Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0871, Japan
Opening Hours: 8.30 AM – 5.30 PM
Entry Fee to Senganen Garden:

  • 950 yen (after discount)
  • 1250 yen (after discount) + The House

Getting to Senganen Garden:
Board the Kagoshima City View bus from JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station and alight at Senganen-mae bus stop

  • Travel duration: 30 mins.

A view of Sakurajima from Senganen Garden.
Image credit: Beautiful Places on Facebook

At the Museum of Meiji Restoration, you could watch a drama performed by robot models of Kagoshima dignitaries. The drama describes the end of Edo period to the Meiji Restoration. I spent some time admiring a ship model and even learnt about the olden-day Kagoshima at the learning zone.

Museum of Meiji Restoration
Address: 23-1 Kajiyacho, Kagoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0846, Japan
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
Fee: 300 yen

Getting to Museum of Meiji Restoration:
11 mins. walk from JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station

Museum of Meiji Restoration.
Image credit: David Stanley on Flickr /CC BY 2.0

Day 5

Since it’s the last day I could use my 5-day All Kyushu Pass, I made sure to buy some souvenirs here at Tenmonkan-dori before going to Oita in the late afternoon. I spent about one hour here with my luggage. At about 11:30 AM, I board the shinkansen from Kagoshima-Chuo Station to go to Oita.

Getting to Tenmonkan Dori:
Kagoshimachuoekimae Station > Tenmonkan-dori Station

  • Travel duration: 10 mins.

Image Credit: ศูนย์ข้อมูลการท่องเที่ยวโอกินาว่า ประเทศญี่ปุ่น on Facebook

Getting to Oita:
JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station > JR Hakata (Kyushu Shinkansen) > JR Kokura Station (Tokai-Sanyo Shinkansen) > JR Oita (Sonic-Nichirin Line)

  • Travel duration: 2 hours 40 mins.

I didn’t get to allocate a sand bath when I was at Kagoshima, so I decided to go for this onsen at Beppu after I arrived at Oita Station. I went to the Municipal Beppu Kaihin Suna-yu to soak in the warm sand. Their free services only include providing a basin, body soap, rinsing with shampoo and hairdryer. After a nice onsen bath, I washed up and then walked out to look for onsen food in the area. There are few of such restaurants close by, so I went to one of it and had a nice filling meal. After that, I went back to my lodgings and had a blissful sleep.

Municipal Beppu Kaihin Suna-yu
Address: Shoningahama, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Fee: 1,030 yen

Getting to Municipal Beppu Kaihin Suna-yu:
JR Oita Station > JR Beppudaigaku Station (Nippou Line)

Sand onsen at Beppu Kaihin Suna-yu.
Image credit: Vivis Chear on Facebook

Cooking an onsen egg.
Image credit: melanie_ko on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Day 6

I started the day with some monkey business – visiting Takasakiyama Monkey Park. It is located at the base of Mt. Takasaki and only accessible by bus. There are about 1,500 Japanese macaques here, and they are allowed to roam freely in the park. There are rules on signboard for visitors to follow, and one of them includes not feeding the monkeys. Other than that, you could observe the monkeys up close and is perfect to snap pictures.

Takasakiyama Monkey Park
Address: 3098-1 Kanzaki, Oita, Ōita Prefecture 870-0802, Japan
Opening Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Fee: 510 yen

Getting to Takasakiyama Monkey Park (by bus):
Beppu Eki Mae Stop (from Beppu Station) > Takasakiyama Shizen Dobutsuen Mae Stop

To get to the park, board the Oita Kotsu Bus at Beppu Eki Mae Stop, which is in front of Beppu Station.

Monkeys at Takasakiyama Monkey Park.
Image credit: Andres on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

After spending about 2 hours there, I went to Beppu Ropeway. The ropeway goes to the top of Tsurumi Mountain, which offers a good view of Beppu and the sea. It is a popular spot for hanami, autumn leaves, and lush green nature in summer. Since I have not taken a ropeway up a mountain during this trip, it is something different and refreshing for me.

Beppu Ropeway
Address: Oaza Minami Tateishi AzaSamuhara 10-7
Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
Round Trip Fee: 1,600 yen
Half Trip Fee: 1,000 yen

Getting to Beppu Ropeway (by bus):
Beppu Station West Exit #3 > Beppu Ropeway

  • Travel duration: 25 mins.

The bus that I took thepa Bus #36 that heads to Yufuin, which was also my next destination.

Ropeway station.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

A view of Oita City from the top.
Image credit: Aoo Chutie on Facebook

Yufuin is popular as a little onsen town located at the foot of Mt. Fuyu, but I am going there to pay a visit to the Yufuin Cheese Factory. The cheese produced here was homemade, delicious and affordable, making me feel satisfied.

Yufuin Cheese Factory
Address: 1101-6 Yufuincho KawakamiYufu 879-5102, Oita Prefecture
Opening Hours: 11 AM – 5 PM

Getting to Yufuin Cheese Factory (by bus):
Beppu Ropeway > Yufuin Bus Station

From Beppu Ropeway, I hop on the Bus #36 again and head to the Yufuin Bus Station. From there, the Yufuin Cheese Factory is 10 minutes’ walk away.

Cheese from the factory.
Image credit: Nagatomo Shuichi on Facebook

Not far from the cheese factory is a Yufuin Floral Village. From the name of the location it sounds like a flower garden but after I went inside, it was more of a fairytale land. The place has little quaint souvenir shops, food stalls, and not to mention an owl cafe! I would say the highlight here is definitely the British-looking design of the village that you could take time to admire.

Yufuin Floral Village
Address: 1503-3 Yufuincho Kawakami, Yufu, Ōita Prefecture 879-5102, Japan
Opening Hours: 9.30 AM – 5.30 PM
Fee: Free

Getting to Yufuin Floral Village:
2 mins. walk from Yufuin Cheese Factory

Image credit: RachelH_ on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

I walked around in Yufuin Town briefly, then decided to go back to Oita Station. This time, travel was much easier as I could board the train at Yufuin Station.

Little alleyway lined with little shops.
Image credit: RachelH_ on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Day 7

On the last day, my flight was at 3 PM so I started my journey to Fukuoka Airport by 10 AM. There is no direct train route to go back to the airport with my JR Pass, so I had to board an early shinkansen from Oita Station to Hakata Station (with one transit in between), and then take the train (Kuko Line) to the airport. After my check-in, I still had some spare time so I visited some duty-free shops to see what is worth buying.

Getting to Fukuoka Airport:
Oita Station > Kokura Station (Tokai-Sanyo Shinkansen) > Hakata Station (Kyushu Shinkansen) > Airport (Kuko Line)

  • Travel duration: 2 hours 30 mins.

Fukuoka Airport.
Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

This was how I spent my 7 days in Kyushu, and then overall, it was a nice vacation. Kyushu may not be a location that many people would want to visit, but it is definitely worth exploring. The gem of this place has got to be the nature and experiencing a different side of Japan. If you would like to visit this place in the future, my advice to you is – be ready to get adventurous!

A fun-loving group of editorial team on the mission to introduce Japanese culture and lifestyle to the masses.

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