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Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/28 16:44
Hi All,

I used to live in Tokyo for 10 years and still return to Japan for sightseeing from time to time but have never driven a car myself. I plan to do a mixed train & care trip in Kyushu in Nov and wondering how hard it is to drive to the mountainous areas where public transportation is not a good option. I don't mind winding roads but not sure about very steep roads and super sharp curves. Also, any chance of frozen road on the mountain during this time of the year?

My plan is to drive from Izumi on Nov 11 --> Makurazaki (overnight stay) --> Kaimon/Ibusuki (overnight stay) --> Chiran --> Kokubu (overnight stay) --> Kirishima (SeigoDon Village, Ryoma Park, open-aired museum, Kirishima jingu) (overnight stay) --> Fukuyama --> Sakurajima --> Kagoshima (Nov 15).

I also plan to drive from Nagasaki to Shimabara (Obama, Unzen, etc.) the following week. What is the road condition around Unzen?

Thanks a lot in advance for your kind advice.
by Dr Tun  

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 09:02
have never driven a car myself

I hope you mean never IN Japan 😉

Well winding roads of steep roads are drivable as long as you drive slowly. Just drive adapted to the road conditions and donft make plans for too much driving per day. Winding roads can be a lot of fun driving, but they also require more attention and more time so you can make considerably less km/d than gnormallyh
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 10:50
Thanks much LikeBike.

Yes, I meant never in Japan :-) I usually drive in Thailand and used to drive through Khao Yai national park a few times without any problems (in case you (and others) have been to Khao Yai to give you some ideas).

Driving through steep roads in foreign countries is a bit scary to me, so want to know the condition before I decide to rent a car. The google satellite only shows curves.

Thanks.
by Dr Tun rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 12:01
We drove up to Uuzen from Shimabara and the road condition wasnft difficult. Going down from Unzen towards Nagasaki the mt road was indeed quite steep and winding but it wasnft too narrow to navigate, not as bad as the approach to Takachiho Gorge, IMO.

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 12:27
Thanks William5. Did you go from Unzen to Nagasaki via Obama Onsen or use a different route (route 128 that seems more direct from the google map)?

Thanks.
by Dr Tun rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 13:12

Hi, Dr Tun,
Your plan is driving only in Kagoshima prefecture, and you may know that in the southern part of Kyusyu island, especially in Kagoshima prefecture, the climate is almost semi tropical and mid-November is still the season far from what you would call glate autumnh in the northern part of Kyusyu and almost all parts of Japan, (Ifm sure, because Ifm a resident of Kagoshima city). Therefore, even in mid-November, you have no need to take snow fall or frozen roads into consideration unless you drive very early morning in Kirishima rergion.

And I recommend you to take a glance at a map of Kagoshima prefecture.
https://www.google.co.jp/maps/@31.6504639,130.5879435,10z
for example.

Generally speaking, driving in Kagoshima prefecture is very easy and fun, since there is no over trafic, i.e. no over population.
And geographically, mountainous roads are limited in Kirishima region, and there is no dangerous and gsteeph roads to run even in that region. Everywhere, all roads are maintained properly and easy to run.

Looking at your plan of driving course, I have some advices for you.
Your plan is:
1.Izumi to Makurazaki
2.Makurazaki to Kaiomn/Ibusuki
3.Ibusuki to Chiran and Kokubu
4.Kokubu to Kirishima/Kirishima to Fukuyama/Sakurajima/Kagoshima city

Day 1: a little bit long distance but not impossible to run in one day.
Starting from Izumi, where do you plan to visit on your way to Makurazaki? As a resident of the region, I must say there is nothing remarkable to visit on the way except the nuclear power plant and its museum at Sendai. You run and run, thatfs all. You go down the national route 3 and at Ichiki town you take the route 270 to Kaseda, and then the route 226 to Makurazaki. This last part of the driving course is interesting, and you can enjoy the coastal scenery in Bo-no-tsu region, but in this part the road is narrow and winding where you must pay most attention to oncoming cars, and be very careful to drive. Take fun.
Day 2: short distance.
Unless you visit some places on the way, your driving will end in one hour. Fortunately, there are some interesting places to visit; flower park, ordinary onsen or sand onsen; consult a guide book.
Day 3: from Chiran to Kokubu, you can take the two toll reads (Ibusuki Skyline and then Kyusyu Expressway, or you can choose partially these toll roads.
Day 4: a little bit long drive. Kirishima Shrine is a must of this region, and if it interests you, you could enjoy an onsen experience, at one of the hotels there (for example, J ze Iou-dani onsen Kirishima Hotel, 1,000 yen per person). at Sakurajima, you should go up to the Yunohira observation.

In Unzen, Shimabara peninsula, the roads are a little steep and winding, but not so difficult to run. If you go to Shimabara peninsula to go to Nagasaki, I rather recommend you to run about all the coastal road of the peninsula.


by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 14:39
We didnft go to Obama Onsen but took the more direct route through Rte 128 and Rte 251 to Nagasaki.
https://goo.gl/maps/gW97gMmXc3KNxxi57

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/3/29 16:05
Thanks both. Really appreciated it.

Best,
by Dr Tun rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/4/1 08:48
As long as you have the IDP and are up to driving in Japan, it can open up a whole new world of places for you. There are countless gems that trains and buses don't go to, at least conveniently. November is also an excellent time to see Japan - still comfortable enough in Kyushu.
If you want to drive, I suggest you take full advantage of it. If you want to go to Nagasaki, seeing the Yutoku Inari Shrine along the way is an excellent place to stop and explore. It's also mostly ignored by the mobs.
https://youtu.be/2UU_1Aip_l4

The Arita Porcelain Park not far away is also wonderful - like suddenly leaving Japan for a bit.
https://youtu.be/yFa4gXw-W04

If you are going to be spending a lot of your time around Kagoshima, seeing Sogi Falls is also one of the best on the island.
If you are putting in around a week and a half, adding Sasebo and Aso and also some great additions.
https://goo.gl/Q843Bg


by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/4/1 15:19
Thanks a lot for the tips. All very helpful.

I only have 2 weeks, so only plan to spend time in Kagohshima and Nagasaki. Will table Saga and Oita for my next trip in Spring during the Hina Matsuri.

Thanks,
by Dr Tun rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/4/2 02:19
My thoughts on driving in Japan (and particularly in rural Kyushu):
- great idea for all places where trains wonft take you
- if therefs a train, consider mixing things up. Train between cities and then hire a car to explore the rural areas. This is also good because then you donft end up paying for a car (and parking) when youfre doing city sightseeing
- rural speed limits are low, and some of the rural roads are narrow and twisty with plenty of blind corners. Youfll need to go slow, so prepare for that and allow plenty of time
- make sure you have a satnav. And make sure the hire people have shown you how to use it before you set off. I always get them to do it a couple of times, and then do it myself, while Ifm at the hire place, before setting off, and I film it on my phone in case I forget
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/4/2 14:34
If you can drive in Thailand, you can drive in Japan. I see very little difference other than quality of road surface in rural areas. No snow in November.
by h (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Driving in mountainous areas in Kyushu 2020/4/3 10:50
Thanks again all. Really appreciate it.
by Dr Tun rate this post as useful

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