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The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to Exploring the Kyushu Island, Japan



The island of Kyushu is a unique part of Japan, which is often overlooked by visitors. It is far away from the busy hotspots of Tokyo and Kyoto.

What if I tell you that Kyushu Island is only a short domestic flight away and easy to reach and explore?

Kyushu is a nature lover's paradise with its breathtaking scenery and unique landscape of trees, mountains and active volcanoes. The island offers a more relaxed experience of Japan and offers you a break from the hustle and bustle of the country's most popular cities.

What I like best about Kyushu Island is how easy and accessible the island is for visitors. This is the perfect place for a road trip in Japan.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your driver's license, take a rental car and explore the main attractions around Kyushu Island.

I have put together a fun route for exploring Kyushu, which can be completed within a week.

From the Onsens of Oita to the breathtaking hilly landscape of Yufuin and the volcanoes of Aso to the castles of Kumamoto to the exciting nightlife of Fukuoka, Kyushu offers everything.

Here is my ultimate guide to exploring Kyushu, Japan.

Transportation: Fly from Tokyo to Kyushu

Flying from Tokyo Haneda International Airport to Kyushu could not be easier. Once you arrive at the international terminal, you can change to the domestic terminal.

There are many domestic flights to Kyushu. With Japan Airlines or ANA (All Nippon Airways) you can fly to Oita, Kumamoto or Fukuoka, where the biggest and most popular airport of the three is located.

Tokyo Narita Airport also offers some options for a flight to Kyushu, for example with Jetstar to Fukuoka.

You can also take the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyushu Island. Depending on where you are in Japan, you can take the train from Tokyo or Shin-Osaka Station to Hakata Station (Fukuoka) using the Jōkō Tōkaidō Shinkansen or Sanyō Shinkansen lines.

The train can be a more expensive option for travelers compared to flying. The journey time from Tokyo to Hakata is about five hours by train.

Another alternative itinerary to reach the island of Kyushu is to take the ferry from Busan (South Korea) to Fukuoka (Japan).

How to rent a car in Kyushu, Japan

It is quite easy to rent a car on the island of Kyushu, Japan. Before you arrive in Japan, you must register early for an international driver's license in your home country.

I arrived at Oita Airport and used Toyota Rent a Car, an airport pick up service. After exploring Kyushu, I was able to park the rental car at the end of the trip in Fukuoka.

A tip would be to request an English navigation system in your rental car as both Japanese and English are available.

Driving in Japan is pretty easy and straightforward. Just keep track of the local speed limit. It is also recommended to make a small change to the parking and tolls, as the machines usually only use cash.

Recommended tour of the island of Kyushu

To complete my recommended route for a round trip, you will need a week to visit all the destinations listed in this guide.

If you wish, you can cancel sections for a long weekend, or take longer and spend more time in each destination, extending the trip by more than a week. The option depends on how you want to travel.

I recommended that you fly to Oita Airport to pick up your rental car and complete your trip to Fukuoka. If you want to change the route, you can fly to Fukuoka and end in Oita.

Another option is to start in Fukuoka and make a loop from Oita and drive back to Fukuoka (travel time 2 hours). Toyota Rent a Car has pick-up and drop-off points at both locations.

All route options are flexible and it depends on how you reach Kyushu Island. So you can customize and change my recommendations according to your travel plans.

3G / 4G global data and Wi-Fi in Kyushu, Japan

Around the island of Kyushu I found the 4G signal reliable and well connected. I recommend that you get some data while exploring Japan so you can keep in touch.

Google Translate can be helpful in conversations, and Google Maps can help with directions when the navigation system gets confusing. It is also helpful to contact local guesthouses if you are late on the route.

I would recommend taking along a Skyroam device that you can take with you on your trip as it offers good daily rates for multiple devices so you can stay connected in Japan.

Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 over the island of Kyushu

In 2019, Japan will host the Rugby World Cup, and many games will be played in stadiums on Kyushu Island. This is a wonderful excuse for a road trip.

The matches will be held in Oita at Oita Stadium, Fukuoka at Fukuoka Hakatamori Stadium and Kumamoto at Kumamoto Stadium.

The games will be as follows:

– Oita – Oita Stadium:

New Zealand vs Canada – 02.10.19 @ 19:15

Australia vs. Uruguay – 05/10/19 @ 14:15

Wales vs. Fiji – Wales vs. Fiji – 09/10/19 @ 18:45

Two of the quarter-finals will also take place in Oita.

– Fukuoka – Fukuoka Hakatamori Stadium:

Italy vs Canada – 26/09/19 @ 16:45

France vs. USA – 02.10.19 @ 16:45

Ireland vs. Samoa – 12.10.19 @ 19:45

– Kumamoto – Kumamoto Stadium:

France vs Tonga – 06/10/19 @ 16:45

Wales vs Uruguay – 13.10.19 @ 17:15

Fukuoka, Oita and Kumamoto City put together a series of activities for traveling fans, such as: B. Transportation to stadiums and fan zones to cheer on your team.

Matsuri in Kyushu

To celebrate the 2019 Rugby World Cup and promote the unique and diverse culture around Kyushu Island, a special event called Matsuri in Kyushu will be held for international visitors.

Matsuri in Kyushu, translated into Japanese in Kyushu Festival, will be held in Kumamoto city center from 28 to 29 September. It is close to the Rugby World Cup fan zone so everyone can join in the fun activities that will be shown during the two-day event.

The prefectures participating in the event are from the Kyushu area. Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima and Okinawa will all come together to introduce their international culture to international visitors. It's sure to be an entertaining event jam with many traditional Japanese activities to attend.

Practical Guides and Rules for Understanding Onsen Culture:

Bathing in an onsen is a popular and relaxing pastime in Japan. It is most popular in Oita, the home of onsen with geothermal activity from the volcanoes that heat up the hot springs. You will find many naturally heated onsen in the area, and indeed, Oita is not only the capital of Kyushu, but all of Japan with thousands of hot springs.

Bring your onsen towel as you have plenty of opportunities to relax around Kyushu.

What I wanted to do here is a few words Consulting for international visitors and first users of onsen As there are some points that you should consider before you get started.

– Take a shower before entering the onsen to make sure you are completely clean.

– You must be naked in the onsen, because clothing is considered dirty.

– Public attentions are usually divided into male and female areas. If you want to share an onsen, you can book a private one in selected guesthouses.

– Tattoos are not allowed. If you have tattoos, you can search tattoo friendly onsen, Tourism Oita has created a map to show the locations.

– Your towel must never touch the water. You can put your little onsen towel upside down while enjoying the onsen.

– Do not immerse your head under the onsen water.

– Avoid splashing water in the onsen area.

– Dry yourself before entering the dressing rooms.

– Remember to sit back, relax and enjoy your onsen experience in Kyushu.

You will soon learn that Japan is a culture built on respect, and rules are usually set up to make the experience enjoyable for all. Now you know the basic rules for an onsen experience and you should meet all the requirements.

The prefecture of Oita

In Oita Prefecture you can find popular places like Oita, Yufuin and Beppu, which you can explore. Here you will find numerous onsen options as well as beautiful landscapes, nature and an entertaining city life.


First, we visit the city of Oita, which is worth spending the night there.

Tenku Open-Air City Spa and JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Oita

When you arrive in the city of Oita, relax and enjoy your first onsen. Visit JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Oita, located near Oita Station.

Upon check-in, guests can enjoy the best view of the city on Oita from the relaxing Tenku Open-Air City Spa located on the hotel's roof. Perfect for relaxing, either at sunset, when the city lights come on, or in the morning as you watch the sunrise over the city. It really is the best and most relaxing place in Oita.

This natural carbonated hot spring has baths with panoramic views of the city and saunas.

Bar hopping and local food in the Oita area

The best nightlife and restaurants in Oita can be found north of the train station. Here you will find a wide variety of bars serving izakaya-style BBQ snacks or a variety of local dishes.

The area was made popular by salarymen, who enjoyed one or two delicious bowls before taking the last train home.

The local dishes that you should try include bugo beef, Seki mackerel and chicken tempura. You can rinse these delicious dishes with a glass of Shochu made in Kyushu. Enjoy the nightlife by sampling local dishes during your visit to the city of Oita.


Oita has as prefecture the most onsen and the largest amount of hot spring water in Japan. A good example of this can be found in the city of Beppu. The drive from Oita to Beppu is relatively easy as it is about a 25-minute drive.

Enjoy a relaxing foot bath

If you want to rest your feet, Beppu offers a wide selection of free self-service public spa baths that can be found throughout the city. Do not forget to pack your own towel to dry your feet when you're done. I would recommend the Beppu Kaihin Sunaba Onsen, which offers stunning sea views.

Near this place you will also find a sandy beach on the beach. It works by burying it under sand which is heated by rising steam. This is a very unique form of onsen that can be found in Beppu and around Kyushu.

Jigoku Hell's visitor Onsen

In Beppu there are also visitor onsen called Jigoku, which are translated into English as "hell". These hells are for viewing only. You can find seven of them around Beppu.

You can buy a Beppu Jigoku ticket at each entrance, which gives you access to all seven hells. Parking is also available free of charge at the locations.

Due to the fumol gas of about 100 degrees, these hells are not open for swimming and only visible to visitors from afar. Five of the hells are in the Kannawa district and two in the more remote Shibaseki district.

Umi Jigoku is the most beloved of the hells and also one of the most beautiful. Here you can see the big hot spring and the huge steam rising from the pond.

Jigoku visit is definitely worth it with hot steam pudding served in a row of cafes in the Hells.

In Chinoike Jigoku the pond water has a red blood color. It is one of the most photogenic locations of the seven. It is worth to visit and stop safely.

Jigokumushi Kobo steam cooking center

To be hungry? Why not go to an onsen restaurant? At the Jigokumushi Kobo steam-cooking center, you can buy a variety of ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, dumplings, eggs, pieces of meat or seafood cooked from the steam of hot steam.

You can rent a steam room to prepare your meal, and while you wait, you can use the foot baths under the dining table to relax. A delicious, unique and entertaining dining and cooking experience to try in Beppu.

Yufuin and Yufu mountains

Yufuin is famous for its breathtaking scenery and its views. A good idea is to park your rental car at Yufu Station and rent a bike for the day at the bike shop. Then, explore Mount Yufu, which offers a selection of beautiful foothills that offer a refreshing breath and breathtaking views. A great way to spend the day.

Near Yufu Station is the Yufuin no Take guest house. Here you can park your car and end the night for a busy day. You will have to wake up early and in the morning to get to Aso.

Mount Aso

Mount Aso is an active volcano and the active volcanic peaks of the mountain include Mount Nakadake, Komeduka, Kusasenri and the Daikanbo Crater.

This area is a spectacular area of ​​natural beauty and well worth the stop on your journey. The best and safest place to take a good look over the edge into the Nakadake Crater is from the viewing area.

The toll road to the crater is also open if you want to use your own car. The crater is just a minute's walk from the parking lot.

The popular cable car, over which visitors could climb the crater, remains out of service.

Before visiting Mount Aso, check for live updates to the crater, as weather conditions can change the visitor's situation daily.

It is important to note that for health problems such as asthma, visiting the crater is not recommended.

Here's a selection of easy trails that take you to various vantage points on the volcanic craters of Mount Aso.

The trails are usually less crowded and a great way to explore the countryside. You may find that you have the whole place to yourself and it almost feels like you are on Mars as you walk around

Stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan

Otohime no Sato is a traditional Japanese ryokan, reachable by car from Mount Aso.

If this is your first visit to Japan, it is a must to spend a night in a traditional Japanese guest house called Ryokan.

Kyushu offers a wonderful selection of ryokans, especially those with private access to relaxing Onsens.

The best ones, who offer the most relaxing and peaceful atmosphere, are in the countryside surrounded by nature. Kyushu offers many of these types of ryokan in idyllic surroundings.

Traditionally, ryokans are run by the families of the guesthouses, and many ryokans can go back generations, some even to the Edo period.

Usually a one-night ryokan will incur an extra charge compared to a normal hotel stay, but the experience is well worth the price.

A ryokan is very interesting for visitors because of its unique Japanese cultural experience, as it differs from a normal overnight stay. Why not try it on your visit to Japan?

Your room will be a traditional Japanese room with a tatami mat and thin paper walls and doors. It is recommended to remove the shoes before entering and to keep luggage away from the sensitive tatami floor to avoid damage.

Usually, a guest has a yukata robe, pajamas, towels, sheets, sheets and pillows provided by the ryokan. These items can be saved when you enter the room for the first time. In this way, you can use the room before bedtime when the beds are ready for use.

Typically, your stay includes a dining experience and a breakfast service, which is usually included in the price.

The food is a wonderful experience to enjoy traditional cuisine and dishes from the guesthouse.

The special thing about staying at the Ryokan Otohime no Sato is the private onsen, which you can rent either in the evening or in the morning and you have all alone to relax and enjoy.

Be sure to book a ryokan for at least one night on your tour of Kyushu.


Kumamoto is another popular city on the Japanese island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan. There are many incredible sights, attractions and dishes for travelers visiting the city of Kumamoto, the largest city in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Hotel the gate Kumamoto

For an affordable stay in Kumamoto, be sure to visit Hotel the Gate Kumamoto. This brand new modern, cozy and clean hotel is located near JR Kumamoto Station and offers a comfortable stay. Here you can sleep well in Kumamoto for a good price.

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle dates back to the 17th century and is considered one of the three most important castles in Japan. The castle was severely damaged by the earthquake that hit most of Kumamoto City in 2016.

Work is underway to rebuild Kumamoto Castle in its old glory, and it will be some time before the construction is completed. Until then, many of the main areas are closed to access, but you can still walk around the castle's outer fortifications.

The city of Kumamoto is working to recapture and reopen the main Tenshu facade by 5 October 2019 for rugby visitors.

For the love of Kumamon

Kumamon was founded by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture and is a mascot known in Japan as its charm. Kumamon will be used to promote the island of Kyushu, and I'm sure you'll spot the cheerful bear mascot all over Kyushu Island on your trip. Be sure to look for him.

You can even visit Kumamon's official office in Kumamoto to say hello in person, and he also started a Youtube channel.

Kumamon has become increasingly popular over the years and has become a great success in promoting the island. You may want to buy Kumamon gifts to remember your time in Kumamoto.

Ajisen ramen for lunch

If you're looking for lunch in Kumamoto, you'll have to try the popular Ramen restaurant Ajisen Ramen. The restaurant is known for its heavy, roasted garlic, which takes over the thick broth. This food is sure to please, and you can get a good lunch here for a reasonable price.

Based on the Kurume Ramen concept, the extra garlic chips and the oil concept have earned many fans. Take a seat and enjoy a tasty bowl of Ajisen Ramen.

Suizenji Garden

Suizenji Jojuen Park is a traditional Japanese garden that surrounds a natural pond. Here you can enjoy and admire the peaceful natural landscape of the city. For the best view of the garden and the pond, enjoy a tea ceremony in the teahouse, where you can relax with incredible views.

The garden also houses a Suizenji Temple, built in 1632. The surrounding garden is part of the 53 stations of the Tokaido, an ancient route that led from Edo to Kyoto, and the hill is said to be a small mountain. Fuji

Kamitori and Shimotori shopping arcade

If you are looking for nightlife in Kumamoto, be sure to visit the Kamitori and Shimotori shopping arcades. Here you can dine and chat in the evening. These arcades offer a variety of options and are ideal for dining in the Izakaya style and for finding an excellent selection of craft beers.

My recommendation is Neginozu for Izakaya (chicken is a good choice) and Voyager for a good selection of Japanese craft beer. For those who feel more adventurous, you can also try a sushi train restaurant. It's a lot of fun and the food is delicious.


Fukuoka is the capital and largest city of Fukuoka prefecture. It is located on the north coast of the island of Kyushu. Fukuoka has been an important port city for centuries. The city is best known for its ancient temples, great beaches, modern shopping and exciting nightlife.

Fukuoka actually consists of two cities, which were merged in 1889, when Hakata and Fukuoka merged into a mega-city. Hakata is still a popular district in Fukuoka. There is a train station in Shinkansen, and the district is also a favorite place for lovers of ramen.

The following can be done during your visit to Fukuoka.

Accommodation: book and bed Fukuoka

Book and Bed is the perfect stay for book lovers in Fukuoka city center. Nestled between the bookshelves you can discover hidden cabin beds where guests can spend the night.

If you are not sleeping, you can read from an endless selection of books.

It's like a capsule hotel, but with a unique and interesting touch. This is a fun and alternative way to spend a night in Japan, and it's also the perfect place to settle in Fukuoka.

Yusentei Park

If you are looking for peace and quiet in Fukuoka and would like to escape the city for a moment, the Japanese Garden of Yusentei Park is just what you are looking for.

It is a quiet place and an excellent example of a Japanese-style garden that surrounds a lake. Stroll around here and see the large selection of koi carp that occupy the lake and the beautiful greenery.

You can also visit the tea house overlooking the lake and enjoy a tea ceremony.

Dazaifu Tenmangu

Dazaifu Tenmangu is a shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, known as the god of learning. The shrine grows around the exam time as the students flock to the site to pray for good results.

As you walk to the shrine, you will notice a selection of brass ox statues that act as symbols of happiness as you rub them. If you are looking for success in exams or academic achievements, this is the shrine for you.

The temple is located 250 meters from Dazaifu Railway Station. The street is lined with cozy traditional shops that sell local produce, such as handmade chopsticks or the delicious bean pate called Umegae Mochi. The perfect place to find Japanese gifts to take home with you.

If you want to spice up your photos in Dazaifu, you can rent a kimono or yukata for the evening, as the cozy town provides a perfect backdrop.

After passing through the shops, you will find a Torii gate that marks the entrance of the shrine. Up to the shrine you will pass a series of two arched bridges and islands representing past, present and future. They will then lead you to the walled courtyard of the shrine.

The area is also popular because it is surrounded by over 6,000 plum trees that give the surroundings a beautiful element of natural beauty.

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando Ramen Noodle

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando is a popular ramen chain that was first founded in Fukuoka, Kyushu. Their restaurants are available throughout Japan and around the world.

The location of Ichiran Dazaifu Sando is popular among students for its unique bowl shape, which represents fortune and fortune for exams. This bowl is only available in the Fukuoka restaurant.

Ichiran Dazaifu Sando is unique in comparison to other Ramen restaurants because its individual dining cabins allow you to focus on the tasty experience without distraction. It's worth trying it for international guests because there's no other place that likes it that way.

Kyushu National Museum

Kyushu National Museum is within walking distance of Dazaifu Tenmangu. Here you can admire the impressive architecture of the massive blue construction, which looks almost like a sports stadium.

Inside the showroom is a large entrance hall that leads you to four floors of Japanese history from prehistoric times to the Edo period.

Ohori Park

Before you finish your tour of Kyushu, take a morning stroll through Ohori Park in Fukuoka city center. Here you can explore the ancient site of the former Fukuoka Castle and see some ruins.

You can also visit the Maizuru Park, which offers a large selection of seasonal flower displays. Enjoy the relaxing urban oasis where you can experience the seasons of Fukuoka. Here you will also find a selection of cafes.

Yatai food stalls

Yatai food stalls must be the most exciting and lively place in Fukuoka to eat. Along the waterfront you will find numerous food stalls that serve a wide variety of Japanese dishes.

This is the place to go as the evening lights illuminate the sidewalk and eager and hungry food lovers wait their turn to grab an available stand for delicious fare.

It is best to arrive here without a game plan and plunge into the room that attracts your attention the most. There are just so many possibilities that you are looking for your own stand to create your own food adventure.

Thank you for reading my ultimate guide to the island of Kyushu, Japan

Kyushu has so much to offer visitors to Japan, and I'm glad you stumbled through this guide to get tips and advice for your future island trip.

I could only cover a small part of the island, but there are many ways to build your route.

I hope you have a wonderful time exploring the unique part of Japan on the island of Kyushu.

Travel tip shared by Dave for travel dudes.

33 ° 20 "56.436" N, 130 ° 50 "6.6984" E

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