Japan remains to be enigmatic in the eyes of foreign visitors… Sometimes familiarly Asian, sometimes Western. It is a land of imperial palaces and castles, historic shrines and temples, impressive natural wonders, extraordinary landscapes and packed modern cities. No matter how many times you visited Japan, you never stop learning something new about the country, and that constant discovery is one of the most fascinating aspects of the Land of the Rising Sun. In this 5-day suggested itinerary, you would be able to explore Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island.
Things to know before travelling to Japan:
1.Language – Japanese (Nihongo) is the official language of Japan. For foreign visitors, the language barrier can be intense but this should not be a cause for concern. Every railway stations, bus stations and other transportation options have English signage. Even if you had any difficulty navigating, the Japanese people are very helpful to foreigners. There are also plenty of tourist information center, usually located in JR offices. It is, however, recommended to learn a few words and phrases because this can go a very long way in Japan, just like in any other countries. Some helpful words or phrases are as follows:
• Arigato Gozaimasu = Thank you
• Sumimasen = Excuse me (very handy if you bump into someone or if you want to order in a restaurant)
• Ohayou Gosaimasu = Good morning
• Oyasumi Nasai = Good night
• Onegai Shimasu = Please
• Eigo o hanashimasu ka? = Do you speak English?
2.Etiquette – The Japanese people are warm and very welcoming to foreign visitors but it’s important to remember some do’s and dont’s to enjoy a faux pas free journey. When entering temples or castles, it is almost always a must to take off your shoes. If there are rows of footwear by the door, it’s a clear sign to remove your shoes. If you are going to visit temples and shrines, remember to dress modestly. On trains and buses, it is considered rude to speak loudly or to speak on your phone.
3.Money and Costs – Japanese Yen is the official currency of Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun has a reputation of being a pricey destination, and its reputation lives on, but in reality it has become more and more affordable. Sure traveling in the country can be expensive, if one chooses it to be, but there are things you can do to not break the bank. With a strong dollar and weaker yen, travelling to Japan can offer a lot of bang for your buck.
4.Getting there – from the Australia, Americas or Europe, a round-trip tickets is about 600-650 USD; from Hong Kong, the cheapest option is 250 USD ( with one connection) or if you prefer a direct flight – 340 USD with HongKong Express; and from beautiful Moscow, tickets start at 450 USD. Having trouble finding low priced tickets to Fukuoka? Send us a message and we can search together!
5.Getting Around – Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island and is surrounded by Pacific Ocean, Japan Sea and East China Sea. It consists of seven prefectures namely, Fukuoka, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Saga. The island of Kyushu boasts world-class accessibility. JR Limited Express and Shinkansen trains connect major cities in Kyushu to and from Fukuoka’s Hakata station. There are also local and rapid trains which are directly connected to Dazaifu, making it very convenient for sightseeing.
6.Where to stay – Kyushu has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. You can find bigger international hotels in Fukuoka and Nagasaki while smaller hotels and ryokans (guesthouses) are common in rural areas like Beppu and Aso.
Detailed Day by Day
Day 1: Fukuoka
Where to stay in Fukuoka:
Hyatt Regency Fukuoka (2-14-1 Hakataeki Higashi Hakataku, Fukuoka 812-0013, Fukuoka Prefecture)
JR Kyushu Hotel Blosson Hakata Chuo ( 2-2-11 Hakata Ekimaem Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0011, Fukuoka Prefecture)
Hotel Forza Hakata (4-16 Hakataeki Chuogai, Hakata-ku | Hakata Station Chikko Exit, Fukuoka 812-0012, Fukuoka Prefecture)
Hotel Okura Fukuoka (3-2 Shimokawabata-machi Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0027, Fukuoka Prefecture)
Royal Park Hotel The Fukuoka (2-14-15 Hakata-ekimae Hakata-ku, Fukuoka 812-0011, Fukuoka Prefecture)
On your first day, start early and have breakfast at one of the restaurants in the heart of Daimyo, Tenjin district. Then make your way to Kushida-jinja Shrine, the shrine dedicated to the god guarding the town of Hakata. Just across the shrine, you can also visit Hakata-machiya Furusatokan, a museum built to introduce the life in Hakata 100 years ago. You can also drop by the Canal City Hakata, a large shopping and entertainment complex near Hakata Station.
After lunch, head to Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station and take the Limited Express and a local train on the Nishitetsu line to get to Nishitetsu Dazaifu Station. Just a short walk from there, you will reach Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the god of learning. Japanese people come here to offer prayers for the safety of their family and to boost academic skills. Other attractions that you can visit near the shrine are Kyushu National Museum (Japan, 〒818-0118 Fukuoka Prefecture, Dazaifu, 石坂4丁目7-2) and Komyozen-ji Temple (2 Chome-16-1 Saifu, Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan). Return from Nishitetsu Dazaifu Station to Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station.
Travel Tip: Purchase Fukuoka City Tourist Pass, a convenient one-day pass which gives unlimited rides on buses and trains operating in Fukuoka City. The pass can be used in Fukuoka subway, JR Kyushu Train, Nishitetsu Train, Nishitetsu Bus and Showa Bus. The 820 JPY (7 USD) pass can be used on Nishitetsu Bus, Showa Bus, JR Trains (local and rapid) and the subway, while the 1,340 JPY (11.50 USD) pass can be used in the stated transportation options plus Nishitetsu Train. Check out this brochure for more details: http://www.nishitetsu.jp/docs/en/tourist_pass.pdf
Day 2: Fukuoka – Nagasaki
On your second day, make a day trip to Nagasaki and take a JR Limited Express train from Hakata Station to Nagasaki Station. Travel time is approximately 2 hours and train fare is 4,500 JPY (38.50 USD) . From there, take the Nagasaki Electric Trainway No. 3 line and get off at Kokaido-mae Station. Walk for about 10 minutes to reach Kofuku-ji Temple (4-32 Teramachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0872, Japan), one of the most important Chinese temples in Nagasaki. You can also visit another Chinese temple in the area which is Sofuku-ji Temple (7-5 Kajiyamachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0831, Japan). Then head to Oura Tenshudo Catholic Church (5-3 Minami-yamate, Nagasaki 850-0931, Nagasaki Prefecture), the oldest existing Christian building in Japan. To get to this church, take the Nagasaki Electric Trainway No. 1 line from Shokaku-ji-shita Station to Oura Tenshudo-shita Station. You can also drop by at Glover Garden, just 10-minute walk from the church, to get a a stunning view of Nagasaki Harbour. Dedicate your whole afternoon for Nagasaki Peace Park and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (7-8 Hirano-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture). Enjoy dinner in Chinatown before you make your way back to Fukuoka.
Travel Tip: Purchase JR Kyushu Rail Pass valid for 3 or 5 days. 3-day pass costs 8,500 JPY (72.50 USD) and 5-day pass costs 10,000 JPY (85.50 USD). Destinations that can be reached with the Northern Kyushu Area Pass include: Shimonoseki, Mojikō, Kokura, Hakata, Yufuin, Beppu, Oita, Kumamoto, Aso, Saga, Nagasaki, Huis Ten Bosch, Sasebo. Shinkansen rides allowed between Hakata and Kumamoto. Please also note, the pass can only be purchased outside Japan, so check with one of the travel agencies in your home country for availability or purchase online at http://www.jrpass.com/
Day 3: Fukuoka – Kumamoto – Mount Aso – Beppu
On day 3, take a Shinkansen from Hakata Station to Kumamoto Station. Travel time is approximately 50 minutes and train fare is about 5,000 JPY (43 USD). Once you reach Kumamoto, visit Kumamoto Castle, one of the three great castles in Japan. You should also set aside some time to visit Suizenji Jojuen Garden. Before lunch, travel to Mt. Aso. Take a Limited Express train from Kumamoto Station to Aso Station. From there, get on a bus for Asosan Nishi Eki (Asosan Nishi Station), the main terminal of Mt. Aso Ropeway. Round trip fare is 1,200 JPY (10.25 USD) for adults and 600 JPY (5.15 USD) for children. Please also note, everyday operation of the rope-way is not certain because every morning just before business hours, Japan Meteorological Agency announces the eruption level alert of Mt.Aso. In the late afternoon after Mt. Also tour, take a Limited Express train from Aso Station to Beppu. Travel time is approximately 2 hours and train fare is around 3,000 to 4,000 JPY (25-35 USD).
Day 4: Beppu
Where to stay in Beppu:
Seikai (6-24 Shoningahamacho, Beppu 874-0023, Oita Prefecture)
Yamada Bessou (3-2-18 Kitahama, Beppu 874-0920, Oita Prefecture)
Hotel Shiragiku (16-36 Kamitanoyumachi, Beppu 874-0908, Oita Prefecture)
Hotel New Tsuruta (1-14-15 Kitahama, Beppu 874-0920, Oita Prefecture)
On your fourth day, do not miss the Hells of Beppu. Admission fee is 1350 JPY (11.50 USD) per person; open daily between 8 am and 5 pm. and The “hells” of Beppu are eight spectacular hot springs where you can see amazing view which is like a scene straight out of hell. You will see hot spring sources spouting out hot mud as well as hot spring water. The Chinoike Jigoku (blood pond hell) features a pond of hot, red water which is probably one of the most photogenic among the 8 hells. Spend the rest of your day lounging in one of Beppu’s various hot spring baths.
Day 5: Fukuoka
On your 5th and final day in Kyushu, check out from “onsen” (an onsen “温泉?” is a term for hot springs in the Japanese language, though the term is often used to describe the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs) resort and take a Limited Express train from Beppu Station to Hakata Station. Travel time is approximately 2 hours and train is 5,000 JPY (about 43 USD). Leave your stuff in one of the coin-operated lockers in Hakata Station before you go for last-minute shopping and seeing those attractions that you haven’t yet had time for. Fit in one last amazing lunch or dinner in the city before you go to the airport.
This is the end of our 5-day itinerary for Kyushu. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form the only way to travel the country. There are numerous alternative routes of travel within the country and it will depend on your intended length of stay (check our suggested itinerary of Japan is seven days). Enjoy Kyushu!
Have you been to Kyushu or anywhere else in Japan? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.