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Kyushu (九州) is the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan. The climate is slightly warmer and more tropical than Honshu, and the southern and eastern coasts are regularly battered by typhoons each year. The terrain is generally mountainous with very fertile valleys, much like the rest of Japan, except for the wide plain area at the top of the island - the location of the largest cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu.


Kyushu Region
home of the cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu
small and rustic, famous for pottery and pre-historic village ruins
best known for the eponymous city of Nagasaki, a hilly city with more than its fair share of history - major "foreigners port" during the closed-Japan period, and target of the 2nd U.S. atomic weapon attack during World War II
rural area well known for abundant hot springs, especially Beppu and Yufuin, plus limestone caves
center of the isle of Kyushu, location of the Aso caldera, largest in the world, and the beautiful Amakusa chain of islands
the surfers' destination of Japan with big beaches and big waves, plus the stunning Takachiho Gorge with its Shinto shrines
dominated by the Sakurajima volcano, hot enough to grow sugarcane - get buried on hot-sand beaches, or visit the two famous islands of Yakushima and Tanegashima
Satsunan Islands

The islands of Okinawa, leading southwest of Japan to Taiwan, are considered a part of Kyushu, the northernmost islands in the chain are administered by Kagoshima prefecture.


  • Fukuoka - the largest city and main transport hub. Lots of shopping, museums, unique architecture, one of the three big sumo tournaments, and giant festivals...
  • Karatsu - Home to some of Kyushu's most famous pottery and seaside castle
  • Kitakyushu - Kyushu's main port town. Famous for its castle, a preserved historical port, plus bridge and tunnel to Honshu
  • Nagasaki - Japan's first port open to the west and oldest continuous Chinatown, also the site of an atomic bombing at the end of WWII. 19th century European settlement theme park (ala Madame Butterfly) and architecture, Chinese architecture and temples, huge Dutch theme park not far from town...
  • Sasebo - Home to a U.S. Navy base
  • Miyazaki - beach resort area in southern Kyushu. Surfing, golf, Easter Island heads, Aoshima...
  • Kumamoto - castle town and hub to central Kyushu, with one of Japan's most beautiful historical gardens
  • Kagoshima - southern city in the shadow of the active Sakurajima volcano
  • Beppu - Famous hot spring city in Japan, with more than anywhere else in Japan, as well as "Hell Tour", monkey park and aquarium

Other destinations[edit]

  • Amami Islands - subtropical archipelago halfway to Okinawa
  • Kirishima - a mountainous national park chock full of volcanic craters and hot springs
  • Tanegashima - island home of Japan's space program
  • Kurokawa - famous rural hot spring resort town with outdoor baths
  • Yanagawa - small rural city renowned for its canals and boat rides
  • Yufuin - tranquil and quiet hot spring area with lots of hiking
  • Yakushima - subtropical island famous for its giant cedars
  • Usuki - home to some of Japan's best ancient stone Buddha statues
  • Chiran - home to one of the best conserved samurai districts in Japan, and the Chiran Peace Museum, dedicated to Kamikaze pilots


Kyushu is home to dialects of Japanese that are almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard Japanese -so much so that it was utilised during World War 2 for preventing interception by the Allies of Japanese communications. Even native speakers of Japanese from Honshu often have problems understanding the conversations of locals. However, all people are able to speak standard Japanese and especially in the cities younger people may also have a limited command of English.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Fukuoka is Japan's busiest international hub after the trio of Tokyo, Chubu and Kansai and has excellent connections throughout Asia and Japan. All the other prefectural capitals also offer limited service within Japan and to a few major Asian cities (typically Seoul and Shanghai).

By train[edit]

The San'yo Shinkansen line runs from Osaka to Fukuoka and many trains continue along the Kyushu Shinkansen line to Kagoshima. All Shinkensen trains stop at Kokura Station in Kitakyushu and Hakata Station in Fukuoka; a trip by train all the way from Tokyo takes 5:40 by Nozomi and costs ¥22,000. There are no Hikari trains that go the full distance from Tokyo to Hakata, so With the JR Pass, you'll need to change trains. You can also go from Osaka to Hakata with the JR West San'yo Pass.

The Kyushu Shinkansen crosses the west side of the island to Kagoshima in the south. Many trains to Kagoshima start in Osaka, and the full course takes about 4 hours by Mizuho and ¥21,000. The JR pass is not accepted on Mizuho trains, but they are accepted on Sakura trains which make the journey in 4.5 hours. A journey from Tokyo (with a change in Osaka) takes a little over 7 hours and costs just under ¥30,000, add an hour with the JR Pass for a Hakari to Sakura connection in Shin-Osaka or Okayama.

The Hakata to Kagoshima run takes about 1.5 hours. There are also good Limited Express trains servicing most anywhere of interest on the island, so you can take train from Hakata to just about anywhere else of interest on the island in about an hour in a half. The exception being Miyazaki which is about four hours from hakata.

By bus[edit]

Willer Express [1] is a company which provides daily night time bus services from Nagoya, Tokyo, and Osaka to Kyushu. They offer an online booking services in Japanese, English & Korean.

By boat[edit]

Fukuoka is also the gateway to South Korea via Busan by ferry, and a few ferry companies (including JR) operate the route.

Get around[edit]

By train[edit]

Steam locomotive Hitoyoshi
Inside the Isaburō/Shinpei sightseeing car

The train is the transport mode of choice on Kyushu. The Kyushu Shinkansen zips across from Fukuoka (Hakata) via Kumamoto to Kagoshima in 1:20, and there is fairly rapid limit express network to get anywhere else. There are also some scenic local train lines such as the JR Hisatsu Line (肥薩線) from Kumamoto via Yatsushiro to Kagoshima is considered one of the most scenic in Japan, and there are comfortable, sightseeing oriented, trains on these lines, and there are some runs with unique roll stock, most notably the Aso Boy from Kumamoto to Mt. Aso and the Steam Locomotive Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi, along the Hisatsu Line.

The Kyushu Rail Pass [2], available only for those not residing in Japan (foreigners with a "temporary visitor" status or Japanese citizens with permanent residence overseas), offers unlimited travel on JR Kyushu's lines, including the Kyushu Shinkansen but not the San'yo Shinkansen between Hakata or Kokura, nor any JR Kyushu buses. Unlike the regular full JR Rail Pass, the JR Kyushu Rail Pass may be purchased after arriving in Japan but only if you are in Japan with a "temporary visitor" status. There are two types of Kyushu Rail Pass: one for the Northern Kyushu Area (all JR lines including and north of the Hohi Main Line between Kumammoto City and Oita City), and the full pass which covers the entire island. Multiple purchases of the passes are allowed as long as the times do no overlap.

The prices of the pass are as follows:

Northern Kyushu Area 3-day pass ¥8,500 5-day pass ¥10,000

All Kyushu Area 3-day pass ¥15,000 5-day pass ¥18,000

One JR pass, the San'yo-Shikoku-Kyushu Pass [3], is available in two versions like the Kyushu Rail Pass but also includes the bullet trains and main line west of Osaka. The version covering northern Kyushu costs ¥22640 for 5 consecutive days, and the version covering all of Kyushu costs ¥25720 for the same period. With this pass you CAN use Mizuho trains between Osaka and Kumamoto/Kagoshima respectively, as well as Nozomi trains between Osaka and Hakata. A round-trip between Osaka and Kyushu by bullet train (approx. ¥30000 to Hakata) will be cheaper if this pass is purchased.

By bus[edit]

Buses serve those parts of Kyushu outside the railway network, but schedules tend to be very limited. There is also a highway bus system paralleling the train network, which you can use through the Raku Bus [4] website. They also offer SUNQ 3-4 day unlimited travel passes: 4-day All Kyushu Pass ¥14,000; 3-day All Kyushu Pass ¥10,000; 3-day Northern Kyushu Pass ¥8,000.

Do[edit][add listing]

There are some great hikes around Kyushu called Olle Hiking. The length varies between 10 to 15 km as well as the difficulty. Visit their website for more details and locations. [5]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Japanese food.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Kyushu is the home of shōchū (焼酎), the fiery Japanese distilled liquor. It's typically around 25%, but some varieties can be much stronger. It can be distilled from nearly anything including rice, barley, brown sugar and buckwheat, but Kyushu is best known for potato shōchū (芋焼酎 imojōchū), particularly that from the ancient province of Satsuma (modern-day Kagoshima). See also "Japanese sake tourism#Shochu and Awamori distilleries" article.

Get out[edit]

Chugoku - The Chugoku region offers many great experiences for travellers, such as Hiroshima, the first city to experience an atomic bombing, Okayama, home to one of Japan's Three Famous Gardens, Izumo, with the second holiest Shinto Shrine in Japan, and Tottori, with Japan's only sand dunes.

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