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One week in Kyushu 2019/12/5 19:09

Hi all

I am planning a 3 week Japan trip for this august/september. Ifd like to spend 7-8 days in Kyushu. I have a first sketch and some doubts. Something like this:

Day 1: Arrive Kagoshima by train from Kyoto. Afternoon visit.
Day 2: First jetfoil to Yakushima. Rent a car and start visiting.
Day 3: Yakushima full day
Day 4: Yakushima and last jetfoil to Kagoshima. Late arrival so no Kagoshima visit.
Day 5: Early train to Kumamoto. Instead of visiting Kumamoto, rent a car and head for Takachiho. Overnight there.
Day 6: Early morning visit in Takachiho. Go to Kurokawa onsen to spend a night visiting Aso on route (if it is open to visitors)
Day 7: Visit Yufuin
Day 8: Drive to a near train station. Return the car and train to Osaka

I have one extra night to place in my trip. Some options that I am considering.

1) Add one night in Nagasaki. First after Kyoto and then shift all one day. So it would be a afternoon visit in Nagasaki and then 3h to Kagoshima next morning.

2) Add one night in Yakushima giving 2 full days plus 2 half days. Is this too much? On the other hand Yakushima is one of the highlights and so expensive to get there that it could be nice. But maybe 2 nights is good enough

3) Add one night in Kagoshima. In the former plan I guess that I won't have time to visit Sakurajima (only a afternoon visit). Adding a night would allow this but I'm not sure if this is a good way to spend this day.

4) Add one night in Kumamoto after Yakushima/Kagoshima and before Tkachiho. This would allow me to spend more time in Kagoshima (maybe a early morning visit to volcano) and spend an afternoon in Kumamoto.

5) Don't touch anything and spend this night to break the Kumano Kodo to Tokyo transfer later on my trip.

What are your thoughts?

by calabiyau  

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 10:39

I spent quite some in Yakushima so wanted to comment on that part. If you are truly into hiking, I would definetly recommend you to add another day as it would allow you to go beyond the usual trails (jomon sugi, shiratani or yakusugi are the most known ones) and maybe do some peak hikes? You can also on the alternative take a lazy day enjoying the ocean side onsens and nice dining spots spread out around the island. I wrote some tips here https://bizarrejourneys.com/yakushima)

by Bizarre Journeys rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 16:10
As I like onsen, I would add the extra night in Kurokawa onsen so that I can do a full day of onsen hopping.

I wouldnft add Nagazaki as it is out of the way. So if anything I would add a night in one of the locations you are already.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 18:29
Just get a rental car from Kagoshima. No reason to get it from Kumamoto.
by Hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 20:17
I would add in Miyazaki! It's breathtaking driving up the coast from Kagoshima to Takachiho! You could rent the car in Kagoshima and see Mt. Sakurajima on the way too. Head up visiting the horses on the Toi Peninsula, visiting Udo Shrine and Aoshima, and end in Takachiho. From Takachiho, head up to Yufuin first, then back down to Kumamoto via the Yamanami Highway, like in this Japan Guide video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N3XzdpLdmA&t=758s

Kyushu is absolutely amazing though, so no matter what you choose you'll have an amazing time! I want to go back so badly!
by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 21:10
I wonft pick a place for your extra day but if it were me a big part of the decision would be how the calendar works out. I personally make it a point never to go to an onsen ryokan on a Saturday night. And I try to avoid super tourist magnets on Saturdays. So depending on where you put your extra day, it will shift where Saturday falls on your whole schedule. Just something to think about. None of the places on your list will likely be dreadful on a Saturday, but Kurokawa Onsen and Takachiho might be a lot more pleasant on weekdays (for example). Just something to think about. I never do up an itinerary without considering day of the week myself. Of course, every week has a Saturday, and you have to put it somewhere.

Nagasaki is really wonderful but probably not a good choice for just an afternoon after training it all the way from Kyoto. Save it for another time when you can spend a couple of nights there, maybe.

If it were me I might pick the day when you are moving from Kumano Kodo to Tokyo. My favorite ryokan in Japan is in Mie prefecture on the coast, an absolute gem of an area that is totally off the radar map as far as tourists go. Ise is also worth a stop. You really have to do your research if youfre going to go to Mie, but itfs worth it. Japan Guide has had a couple of nice gadvertorialh writeups on the area, one being on Shingu, and the other one on the Iseji area.
With just one night you couldnft do everything mentioned in those articles, of course, but you might see something that tickles your fancy.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/6 22:07
Another note on calendar: for sightseeing, Sunday can be every bit as bad as Saturday (or even worse) as far as crowds go. However, as far as accommodations go, it is a lot better. The problem with weekends is that you add a lot of Japanese people to the hordes of foreign tourists, and both days of the weekend have that issue. Japanese family outings very often take place on Sundays.

One pattern Ifm seeing that has gotten exponentially worse over the years is hotels jacking up their rates on Saturday night. It is not uncommon for them to charge even three times the weekday rate. At onsen ryokans, itfs never that much, but typically 25% or so more, plus there are fewer gdealsh available. Price is one reason I avoid ryokans on Saturdays. But also, they tend to be full, which often makes for a less enjoyable experience in the baths. And staff tends to be busier, even though they typically bring in extra help when they are full. But anyway, the ambience is much better on weekdays.

The biggest change Ifve seen with regard to the Saturday thing is business hotels. Years ago, they used to be much cheaper on Saturdays (no business customers), but now, the ones in popular areas try to squeeze every penny they can out of tourists. This can make it very hard to book a multiple night stay somewhere. The rate on Sunday through Friday might be around 12,000 yen per night, say, and then it goes up to 32,000 for Saturday, for some small twin room with a unit bath and really cheap toothbrushes (of course I bring my own). It makes it hard to book multiple-night stays without blowing your budget, and drives me crazy.

Anyway, when I plan an itinerary one of the first things I do is figure out where to be on weekends. Sometimes I end up caving and paying the huge upcharge so I can stay in the same hotel for a few days, but with careful planning I can often avoid that, and also do my sightseeing without the crowds.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/7 07:47
Thanks for your help!
I'll consider all these options!
by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/8 23:45
I just came back from Kyushu and Your itinerary seems similar to mine. Just to share what I did:

Day one: Arrived by air into Kagoshima. Explored area around hotel.
Day two: Jetfoil to Yakushima
Day three and four: Yakushima
Day five: Jetfoil back to Kagoshima and pick up rental car. Drove to Kirishima area.
Day six: Explored Ebino Kogen highlands then drove to Kumamoto. Night at Kumamoto.
Day seven: Drove to Takachiho Gorge. Night at hotel nearby
Day eight: Aso area
Day nine: Kuju mountains. Drove to Yufuin.
Day ten: From Yufuin to Fukuoka. Return rental car
Day eleven: Fukuoka

Not sure what your interests are but if you are into nature and hiking then yes you should consider adding a day more in Yakushima. Apart from hiking days, we spent a leisure day just driving around the island. Isso lighthouse was an unexpected discovery and highlight of my day.

Aso was still restricted to one km radius but still breathtaking to see it up close.

Yufuin was quite a disappointment to me though.

Thatfs all!
by Blanco P (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/9 19:41
Thanks Blanco P!

We have actually decided to add a third night in Yakushima. It seems to be a unique place and we don't want to be rushed there.

So our days are pretty similar, except that we plan to skip Kirishima/Kumamoto and Fukuoka days. Comparing with the rest of the itinerary, do you think it is a good trade?

Why did Yufuin dissapoint you? It is well regarded in general.

We could stay in Beppu as an alternative for that last night, but I'm afraid that it is too big for just one night. It seems quite a big city.

by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/9 20:08
I canft speak for Blanco P, but I was also a bit disappointed with Yufuin. Probably because I had read numerous accounts from people who really love the place, I guess I was just expecting more. Itfs a nice enough town in a pretty setting, but there was just nothing about Yufuin that grabbed me. On the other hand, I really enjoyed Beppu, and I have read numerous accounts from people who really hate Beppu. I would go back to Beppu myself, but I probably wouldnft go back to Yufuin. I really enjoyed the train ride on the Yufuin no mori, though.

Saying that Beppu is gtoo bigh for a one-night stay is sort of like saying Tokyo is too big for a one-week stay. If you do end up picking Beppu, focus on the onsen experience and find a nice ryokan (doesnft have to be an expensive one), and maybe visit some of the hells or something. I particularly liked Umi Jigoku and Chinoike Jigoku. There are a number of things you can do there, but you donft have to do all of them. And itfs easy enough to get around town by bus or taxi.

But based on the rest of your itinerary, probably youfre going to like Yufuin better than Beppu. If youfre looking for an experience that is quite different from the more bucolic places youfre going to, then Beppu might be good. It is a classic onsen town and quintessentially Japanese (just not what most foreigners perceive as being quintessentially Japanese). But if you want a rustic, peaceful, gclose to natureh feel, then stick to Yufuin, is what I would say.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/10 22:54
Thanks Kim for your elaborate answer!

I'll have to inform me better to decide where to overnight. One option if I confirm Yufuin would be leaving early to Beppu, and then we could visit one or two Beppu hell before returning the rental car and heading for Osaka.

By the way, what are your thoughts of Fukuoka? I'm asking because apart from that 3rd night in Yaushima, I might gain another extra day (thanks to Kumano Kodo in 3days/2 nights instead of 3 nights) and I'm considering to break the Kyoto-Kagoshima train with a day in Fukuoka.

Considering this 9-10 days itinerary, would it be a nice addition?

I really appreciate all your feedback, but I've decided to add places that are already on-route and avoid to add detours such as Nagasaki, or even Miyazaki. They seem pretty amazing places but I prefer to focus on this loop. This is the reason I'm considering now Fukuoka.

It could be like:

Day 0: Arrive Fukuoka. 3/4 day visit.
Day 1: Arrive Kagoshima (from Fukuoka then we'll have plenty of time to visit Sakurajima. From Kyoto not enough time probably)
Day 2: First jetfoil to Yakushima. Rent a car and start visiting.
Day 3: Yakushima full day
Day 4: Yakushima full day
Day 5: Yakushima and jetfoil to Kagoshima.
Day 6: Early train to Kumamoto, rent a car from JR station and head for Takachiho. I prefer to rent a car in Kumamoto instead of Kagoshima because I'll have my JR pass active and then I can save 170km of driving. Overnight around Takachiho.
Day 7: Early morning visit in Takachiho. Go to Kurokawa onsen to spend a night visiting Aso on route (if it is open to visitors)
Day 8: Visit/relay Yufuin/Beppu
Day 9: Early drive to Beppu. Visit one or two hell. Return the car and train to Osaka around midday.

Thanks for all your help!

by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/10 23:30
Kyoto to Kagoshima is kind of long, so it isnft a bad idea to break it up with a stop in Fukuoka. However, youfll have to get other advice on what to do there. I have spent a total of 6 or 7 nights there on multiple trips, but to be honest I used it as a base for day trips and never really discovered anything unique or particularly appealing in Fukuoka itself. Had some very good evening meals in local izakayas there (I did not find the offerings of the famous yatais to be very appealing). On the other hand, I love Kagoshima. If you are thinking of adding an extra night (Ifm not sure what you mean by Day 0), possibly you could spend two nights there. That would give you more opportunities to see Sakurajima (I mean literally to see it; a lot of the time it is hidden by clouds and you donft get to revel in its awesome presence). I like the vibe of Kagoshima city itself more than that of Fukuoka, but I have to admit that I never really tried to get to know Fukuoka. From Kagoshima, I took enjoyable day trips to Ibusuki and also did some fabulous train riding on special JR Kyushu sightseeing trains. If you have a JR pass, the special trains that run between Kagoshima and Kumamoto (through Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu) are as good as it gets for recreational train riding, in my opinion. But it takes a lot of planning and the scheduling is tricky, and you didnft indicate any special interest in train riding, so itfs probably not something youfd want to do. Anyway, bottom line is Ifd probably spend two nights in Kagoshima instead of one in Fukuoka if I were adding a night on the front end of this itinerary, but thatfs just me. Many other people would do it differently.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/10 23:54

Thanks again Kim.

Actually your thoughts are pretty consistent with all I have read. In general people don't rave about Fukuoka. And your opinion seems to confirm this.

It is indeed quite a long ride (4.5-5h) but as I will travel with all my luggage somehow I prefer to do it in one leg instead of repeating the pack-ride-unpack ceremony... Once you are in the train, for me it is not so different a 3.5 vs 5h (when the 3.5h will be followed next day by a 1.5h ride again...)

I'll take a look to your Kagoshima suggestions. The only point here is that we spend a second night after Yakushima (probably we'll arrive late so no visit at all).



by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/11 03:47
I should have mentioned Senganen as well. It is well worth a visit. There are hiking trails there (in addition to the strolling paths) if you want some exercise, although it wonft compare to what you will find on Yakushima. Nice views of Sakurajima. And steeped in Satsuma history.

If your budget allows you to choose a hotel room with a good view of Sakurajima, I strongly recommend it.

I think Fukuoka has a lot to offer, but you have to take some time to find things that appeal to you, and I havenft done that myself yet. Osaka is much the same way. Many people dismiss it as not really worth visiting, but I have had some peak Japan travel experiences there myself.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/11 05:59
If you want to visit the Aso area, you certainly can - it is not going to be "closed". The only area that might be off limits is the volcano crater area, if it is pumping out too much poisonous gas. But the Aso area has a ton of great sights to see if you have a car. Among them if the weather is good is the Daikanbo Lookout.

Another very good sight nearby is the Nabegataki Waterfall - be sure you walk behind it as well.

As well as others, like Kikuchi Gorge, the Yamabuki Springhead, etc. One issue you should be aware of is that if you return your rental car far away from where you got it, there could be some very high drop off charges.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2019/12/11 06:08
Thanks for your answers!

I hope I can visit these places between Takachiho-Kurokawa and Yufuin... And also very interesting this borrowed garden...

My idea is rent a car in Kumamoto and return in Beppu. Is this considered too far?

Best regards
by calabiyau rate this post as useful

Re: One week in Kyushu 2020/1/15 17:17

Hi again.

After some recommendations, I'm considering to slighlty change my itinerary, but I'd like to know if it is ok.

The idea is remove the Yufuin overnight, and change it for a Miyazaki area one before heading fot Takachiho. But it would come with a price.

Is this too much?

-Early arrive to Takachiho from Miyazaki area. Visit the area and overnight Takachiho.

-Next day visit Aso area (whatever it is open to visitors if there is eruption warning) and overnight in Kurokawa. As it is an expensive place I'd like to arrive with enough time to enjoy it, so maybe this will shorten the Aso area time.

-After Kurokawa, instead of overnight in Yufuin which would allow me to stretch the Kurokawa onsen day, head for Beppu to return rental car and JR train to Osaka around 13-14h. Maybe a quick stop in Yufuin to visit the main street.

Is this packed? Or can be done without rush? How long would it take to visit Aso area?


by calabiyau rate this post as useful

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