Kurume is on the JR Kagoshima Main Line.
From Hakata station in Fukuoka there are generally one local and two rapid trains per hour operating to Kurume, with more trains during rush hours. Rapid trains take 40 minutes, and local trains take about an hour, at the same cost of ¥720.
Paying a ¥600 surcharge (¥900 for a reserved seat) will allow you to travel on one of the many limited express trains that operate on the Kagoshima line, which will bring you from Fukuoka to Kurume in half an hour. These trains operate on the same or higher frequency than regular trains, and include the Relay Tsubame for Kagoshima (connecting to the Kyushu Shinkansen), the Ariake for Kumamoto and Hikarinomori, and the Yufu trains for Yufuin, Oita and Beppu.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass you can take any of these limited express trains at no extra charge; for unreserved seating, simply show your pass to the conductor on the train.
Kurume is also on served by Nishitetsu Railway on the Tenjin Omuta Line, stopping at Nishitetsu Kurume station which is about 2.5 km east of the JR station. From Nishitetsu Fukuoka station in the Tenjin area of Fukuoka, take any Omuta-bound train. Train tickets can be purchased from the ticket machines at the station, and cost ¥600. Limited Express trains depart every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour, and take approximately 30 minutes.
Highway buses bound for Nishitetesu kurume station can be boarded at Fukuoka airport and run two or three times an hour until 10 at night. One can also board Kurume-bound highway buses at Nishitetsu Tenjin Station or JR Hakata Station. Buses take about an hour to reach Kurume.
If you are driving to Kurume, you will be able to park your car in one of roughly a dozen cheap parking lots, a happy side effect to the Japanese economic depression. Look for parking signs near either of the stations. Expect to pay around 100 yen per hour.
Although Kurume has the appearance of a city with cramped quarters and tall buildings, it is very small and can be easily navigated by bicycle.
The main bus center is located on the ground floor of the Nishitetsu train station. Buses depart frequently. Although there is no English-language time table posted, a travel agency on the same floor may be able to offer some advice during business hours.
Ishibashi Museum of Art http://www.ishibashi-museum.gr.jp/e/index.html Next to museum a traditional Japanese koi garden which is open to the public. And there is the Kurume public library.
The largest feature in Kurume is by far the Jibo Kannon Statue, which lies within the grounds of Naritasan Temple. The concrete Kannon Statue is 62 meters tall, and visitors can pay a small fee to go inside the statue and climb stairs to the top for a good if cramped view. Be sure to head to the basement of the statue when you're done, where you can see an animatronic buddhist hell which is not to be missed.
For the best (and free) view of Kurume and the Chikugo plain, head to the top of the 20 story city hall. The tallest building for kilometers, Kurume city hall is a five minute walk from JR Kurume Station.
There are also a few temples to visit, as in any Japanese city. Bairinji Temple, near the Chikugo River, is home to a small orchard of plum trees which blossom in the early spring. The temple itself has a small zen garden, and is the largest training temple in Kyushu. Also check out Suitengu shrine. Located a mere half kilometer along the river from Bairinji, this is the main temple of all of the Suitengu shrines in Japan and is set in a small grove.
Kurume is host to Japanese festivals and parades, occurring regularly throughout the year. Events usually take place on Japanese holidays, and will include dressing up in yukata, which are cotton kimono worn in the summer, and walking through the hooded shopping street for matsuri games such as fishing and balloon tosses. In the summer, there are also fireworks which will coincide with matsuri events at the local temple.
A small shopping mall named EMax is located above the Nishitetsu train station. Stores include InCube, Quest bookstore, and a variety of clothing stores.
Across the main street from the station is "Ichibangai 1", a long covered pedestrian mall with stores that change often. There are a few restaurants there as well.
About 10 minutes by bus from the station is one of Japan's growing chain-mall locations, YouMe Town. Take the #20 bus from the Nishitetsu station and get off right in front of the large mall complex.
Kurume is famous for its kasuri, an indigo dyed cloth used to make kimonos and other traditional Japanese clothes, but you are not likely to find much kasuri in Kurume itself. Yanagawa nearby actually sells more Kurume kasuri than Kurume itself, both in cloth and kimono form, and it looks a lot more like a traditional Japanese town, too.
Kurume is also the home of Bridgestone tires and famous for ramen noodles which are available in plentiful supply.
While at first glance there isn't an abundance of restaurants in Kurume, in reality there are plenty if you know where to look.
In the "Ichibangai" pedestrian mall across from the Nishitetsu Kurume train station, there are 3 or 4 larger Japanese Izakaya restaurants which are worth a visit if you're hungry. They are all right next to the am/pm store.
About one block down from the station to the west is a good Korean restaurant, which can be quite busy on weekends, so you might want to make reservations. Another delicious korean restaurant named Uji is located in Shojima-machi between JR and Nishitetesu kurume stations. Follow the road south that runs in front of Nishitetsu station past Kogashiramachi park. It is located 2 blocks past the park on the right.
Also, lining the small canal to the west of "Ichibangai" are a number of quaint restaurants, such as Toride (french italian), Nixon (fusion) and Le Peu (french), as well as a new Mexican restaurant called "El Sol" a little further away.
There is also an Okinawan restaurant called little Okinawa near St. Mary's Hospital that has occasional live music.
The same train which runs in from Fukuoka continues out into the countryside.