in October/November, we (my husband and I) will do our second trip to Japan and spend two weeks on Kyushu. I now assembled a first itinerary and would be happy to receive feedback/comments on how doable this is or whether we miss out on anything highly recommended. I also have a few particular questions; it would be great if anyone could comment on those.
As a general notice, we are not the fastest travelers and want to relax on this trip (onsen!); on the other hand, there are more than enough things that we would love to see to fill a month or more of travel ... We need to find a balance here. As I see it at the moment, we will surely come back to Kyushu to visit the east coast ;-)
Day 1: Arrival at Kagoshima airport around noon. Transfer to Kagoshima, and maybe visit Sengan-en if we feel like it after the long flight. Hotel in Kagoshima.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Kagoshima. In particular, Sakurajima and (if not happened on day 1) Sengan-en. If we still have time left, possibly the aquarium. Hotel in Kagoshima.
Day 3: Take the morning ferry to Yakushima, spend the afternoon in Yakusugi Land. Minshuku in Miyanoura.
Day 4: Spend the morning in Shiratani Unsuikyo. Take the afternoon ferry back to Kagoshima. Stay in one of the onsen hotels in Kagoshima (e.g. Shiroyama Kanko Hotel).
Day 5: Take the Shinkansen to Kumamoto, then pick up a rental car and drive to Aso. Visit Mt. Aso and spend the night at an onsen ryokan in Aso.
Day 6: Drive from Aso to Takachiho, spend the day there (the gorge, Amano Iwato Shrine, if time permits Amano Yasukawara Shrine). In the evening, drive back to Kumamoto and return the car. Hotel in Kumamoto.
Day 7: Visit Suizenji garden and possibly take a look at Kumamoto castle from the outside. In the afternoon, take the ferry and bus to get to Unzen onsen. Spend the night in an onsen ryokan there.
Day 8: Take a look around Unzen. In the afternoon, continue to Nagasaki. Hotel in Nagasaki.
Day 9/10: Spend two days in Nagasaki. We are currently planning to visit the peace park and atomic bomb museum, Dejima, Mount Inasa, Gunkanjima and maybe one of the temples.
Day 11: Take a train to Takeo onsen. Visit the Saga Science and Space Museum. Stay in an onsen ryokan.
Day 12: Take a train to Hizen-kashima and visit Yutoku Inari Shrine. In the afternoon, proceed to Fukuoka, do some shopping and check out the food stalls. Hotel in Fukuoka.
Day 13: This would be Nov 3rd. Visit either Yanagawa and enjoy the Hakushu festival in the evening OR visit Karatsu and enjoy the Karatsu Kunchi. Either way, return to Fukuoka in the (possibly late) evening.
Day 14/15: There are various day trips from Fukuoka which we are generally interested in, e.g. Kokura (castle and toilet museum), Dazaifu, Nanzo-in, Yoshinogari Historical Park etc. We will probably decide rather spontaneously which of those we visit on these last two days.
Day 16: Leave from Fukuoka Airport early in the morning.
Now some questions:
- Is it feasible to have roughly half a day for Shiratani Unsuikyo and Yakusugi Land each? We are not the greatest hikers, but would like to spend a few hours on an easy walk.
- Is there anything to note about the routes we want to drive by car (Kumamoto -> Aso, Aso -> Takachiho, Takachiho -> Kumamoto)? It is the first time that I will drive in left-hand traffic, so I'm a bit nervous about it ;-)
- Is it worth it to have a look at Kumamoto castle from the outside? How much time would you spend there?
- Do I understand correctly that there are no English tours around Gunkanjima? I speak a few bits of Japanese, but my husband does not. Would you still recommend landing on the island (as I understand, there are also tours that only tour around the island, giving you opportunity to view it from the boat)?
- What about the Saga Science Museum: I read that it is mostly targeted towards kids, but that adults can still enjoy it. It is also supposed to have a lot of hands-on things to do, so it should be interesting without too much Japanese language skills?
- About the festivals: I would personally prefer the Karatsu Kunchi as a (correct me if I'm wrong) typical Shrine festival (as opposed to the Yanagawa thing, anyways). However, as far as I've heard, it is heavily crowded. Is it still worth a visit? Do you get to see anything with the crowds? How problematic is public transport with the amount of people? On the other hand, has anyone been to the Yanagawa Hakushu festival and can comment on that?
It would be awesome to get some help and feedback :-)