The southern island of Kyushu has a unique character and variety of attractions. A highly recommended way to experience Kyushu's rural side and see some of its best natural scenery and hot springs, is the Trans Kyushu Route between Kumamoto on the west coast and Beppu on the east coast.

The Kyushu Odan Bus ("Trans-Kyushu Bus") makes it relatively easy to do the journey by public transportation. Nevertheless, a rental car will provide the greatest degree of flexibility and comfort. For a large part of the journey, travelers can follow the attractive Yamanami Highway which runs through the rolling, grass-covered hills of Kyushu. While leisurely travelers could spend an entire week doing the journey, it is also possible to cross the island in a single day.

Prefectural capital with imposing castle
Kumamoto is one of the largest cities on Kyushu. Its main attraction is the Kumamoto Castle, which despite its reconstructed concrete keep, is one of the best and most complete feudal castles in Japan. The city also offers the unique Suizenji Garden.
50 kilometers
Mount Aso
Active volcano with a huge caldera
Mount Aso is an active volcano with one of the world's largest calderas. Tourists can approach the volcano's crater and look inside, although the area is occasionally closed due to high emissions of volcanic gases. Cows and horses can be seen grazing on the volcano's grassy slopes.
30 kilometers
Kurokawa Onsen
Atmospheric onsen town with large open-air baths
One of the most attractive hot spring towns in Japan, Kurokawa Onsen is nestled beside a river and has many ryokan whose baths, including many outstanding outdoor baths, are open to both overnight guests and day trippers. The town has gone to great lengths to keep its streets attractive and free of gaudy signs.
15 kilometers
Kuju Mountains
Volcanic mountains
The Kuju Mountains offer various hiking opportunities in a breathtaking volcanic landscape, including a half day hike to Nakadake peak, the highest point on the island of Kyushu. Shorter walks are possible in the wetlands around the Chojabaru Visitor Center.
35 kilometers
Yufuin Onsen
Trendy onsen town
Yufuin is a hot spring resort with a laid-back and intimate atmosphere, particularly when compared to neighboring Beppu. Yufuin has many small shops, art museums and cafes that make the town enjoyable to explore by foot. The twin peaks of Mount Yufu hover above the town and add to the secluded atmosphere.
25 kilometers
Resort city blessed with huge amounts of hot spring waters
With the largest output of hot spring water in the country, Beppu is a massive hot spring resort that offers travelers almost every type of bathing experience, including mud baths, steam baths and sand baths. While Beppu's city center is not the most appealing, some of its more outlying districts are quite attractive.

Getting there and around

By car

A rental car is the best way to travel the Trans Kyushu Route, affording travelers more flexibility and comfort than the public transportation options. The majority of the route follows the Yamanami Highway, an attractive road that travels through the mountains between Aso and Beppu. Total driving time from Kumamoto to Beppu is about four hours without stops.

By Kyushu Odan Bus

The Kyushu Odan Bus ("Trans Kyushu Bus") by Kyusanko operates between Kumamoto and Beppu, serving Kumamoto Airport, Aso, Kurokawa Onsen, the Kuju Mountains and Yufuin along the way.

By train

The JR Hohi Line connects Kumamoto and Beppu via Aso; however, note that the Hohi Line does not pass by Kurokawa, the Kuju Mountains and Yufuin.

How to get to Kumamoto
How to get to Beppu