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Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

singapore
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Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

HI everyone!

My family of 5 just had a great 10 day self-drive holiday in Kyushu and I wanted to share our experience with others who are planning similar vacations. My family was very happy with the itinerary, good mix of views, temples, natural wonders, history, activities, food and shopping.

Our itinerary

Day 1 – arrive Fukuoka Airport, Drive to Yufuin, Visited Lake Kinrin, Yunotsubo Kaido (accommodation Yamashiroya Ryokan)

Day 2 – Travel to Beppu, Visited Umijigoku, Sand Bath at Takegawara Spa, Beppu Ropeway/Mt Tsurumi (accommodation Yamashiroya Ryokan)

Day 3 – Kokonoe Suspension Bridge, Skiing at Kuju Forest Ski Park (accommodation at Ryokan Sanga)

Day 4 – Explore Kurokawa town, Drive to Daikanbo, Kusasenri (Mt Aso Ropeway still not operating), Shirakawa Suigen (accommodation Imakuni Hotel)

Day 5 – Takachiho Gorge in morning, Tsujun Bridge (but no water discharge while we were there), Kumamoto Suizenji Garden (accommodation Airbnb)

Day 6 – Kumamoto explore (kumamoto castle, Sakura no Baba Jousaien, Shimotori Malls, Museum)

Day 7 – Ferry to Shimabara, Nita Pass, Unzen Ropeway, Unzen Jikogu, Oura Church, Glover Garden Dejima, Mt Inasa Nagasaki (accommodation Airbnb) – (we squeezed quite a bit this day because weather forecasted rain the next day)

Day 8 – Nagasaki Peace Park, Atomic bomb museum, Urakami Church, Amu Plaza Mall and Hamanmachi Mall (took shelter in Mall because of rain)

Day 9 – Yutoku Inari Shrine, Tosu Premium outlet, Fukuoka Tenjin Shopping (accommodation Nishitetsu Grand in Tenjin)

Day 10 – Nagahama Fish Market, Tochoji Temple, Hakata Station, Canal City shopping (accommodation Nishitetsu Grand)

Day 11 – Fly home

Because it was winter, we planned on average 3-4 attractions in a day. Kyushu is beautiful and we spent slightly longer time in each location just soaking in the beauty and also taking lots of photos. Also, most of the driving was not on expressways so it did take time traveling from one location to the other. (also we didn’t want to rush so we decided to cover only northern Kyushu)

Favorite attractions (too many to choose from)

Daikanbo – the view is just magnificent. It’s impossible to capture it on photo. Getting there was a little bit of a challenge. The telephone number on the web led us somewhere different but it was a good thing we spotted road signs pointing us to the right direction. (While I was there a google-map the souvenir shop –0967-32-3856 – hope it works)

Yunotsubo Kaido – such a quaint street filled with Japanese food and souvenirs. Yes it is touristy but nevertheless it was fun walking down the street window shopping and snacking on Japanese food. While you are there please do look out for MILCH which sells oozy cheesecake in a cup. They won awards for this dessert. Luckily the queue was short when we were there. Super yums

Yutoku Inazi Shrine – beautiful temple and also they have a small stretch of tori gates (like those found in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine). It was early when we arrived and got the temple all to ourselves. the view when you get to the top is also very pretty. Surprisingly, this attraction is not really featured much when I was doing my research but I stumbled on it on tripadvisor forum and very happy for it

All the ropeways and views at top (esp Mt Tsurumi and Unzen)

Favorite Accommodation

Yamashiroya Ryokan – very warm friendly owners of this small ryokan, about 20 mins away from yufuin. The rooms were very comfortable; the onsens was very nice and had good view and the food… the food was sooooo good.

Favorite Experience

Sand Bath in Beppu – This was sooo relaxing – nearly fell asleep – we went to the one in Takegawara spa which is I believe the oldest in Beppu… so the facility was old… maybe we should have tried the one by the beach (with a view of the water)

Rowing the boat in Takachiho Gorge – A must-do. The boat is not easy to row. We look back now with laughter on how we bad we were. The view of the gorge from the boat is very different

“Regrets”

Mt Aso Ropeway - Unfortunately we could not take the ropeway to the Nakadate crater at Mt Aso as it was still not in operation while we were there (hopefully you will hae beter luck

Nagahama Fish Market – we went too late. By the time we were there all the action was over. we were there about 9am... I think we should have gone much earlier like 6am. However we did have a very good sushi breakfast… one of the best I had.

I like to thank “jp-local-life.com” the post was so detailed with photos .. We just followed step by step…. jp-local-life.com/nagahama-fish-market-fresh…

Car Rental

GPS is so easy to use. Just key in the telephone number of the place you want to go – no need to key in address – and you are on your way. We had a list of all the attractions and telephone numbers printed in advance so it was super easy to get from one place to another

We rented an SUV with snow tires (it was snowing a few days while we were there).

We also got the ETC card which made traveling on the expressways a breeze.

Lastly, there is the matter of KEP (Kyushu expressway pass) – there is toll if you travel on the expressways. Depending on your route, you may not need to have the KEP for the full length of your holiday. I shared my itinerary with the rental car company and they helped me figure out how many days and when to get pass vs just paying the toll. (so have your itinerary handy so that they can help you too… put the days and date…because there is a 30% discount on toll fees during the weekend so depending on route, you may not even need to get the pass)

I would like to thank all the contributors on Forum who helped me put this together esp ETFlyer who provided very good advise on attractions, itinerary etc. Definitely hope we get the opportunity to come back again to visit the rest of Kyushu…

36 replies to this topic
Taipei, Taiwan
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1. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Great report Singapore Mummy!

We're heading to Kyushu for 4 days, of which 3 we'll use a rental car:

Day1: Fukuoka Airport -> Takachiho

Day2: Takachiho -> Kurokawa

Day3: Kurokawa -> Yanagawa -> Fukuoka

How was it driving on the snowy roads around Aso-Takachiho-Kurokawa? Are you used to driving in such conditions? (I'm not, that's why I'm asking).

Thanks!

Roi

singapore
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2. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Hi Roi

We rented our car from Nissan

We got and xtrail with snow tires

Expressway driving was no problem at all... and drivers there very considerate

Smaller road driving may be quite winding especially aso and takachiho area but it was still a comfortable drive (not stressful)

I believe the snow tires made a difference

(Also point to note, our car was one of the largest on the road... most cars and even vans are very narrow which is good for the small roads.. we are very happy we didn’t get a larger car)

I hope I answered your question

Oh to add on... we are not used to snow or icy road driving

Edited: 07 January 2018, 11:44
Fukuoka, Japan
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3. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

I enjoyed reading your report. Thank you for sharing it. I'm glad to head that you enjoyed your trip in Kyushu. You finalised very well organised itinerary. Aso can be seen from both Unzen Nita Pass and Mt Tsurumi. You had a good experience in one travel.

Aso Ropeway is currently scheduled to restart this coming April. Tsujunkyo Bridge takes more time to recover, which is another damage iby the earthquake.

Yes, you have to be very early riser if you want to see the fish auction. Vegefru stadium (vegetable and fruit market in Fukuoka) starts auction at 7 AM, which much later than Nagahama. While I watched it, fruit flavour stimulated my stomach a lot.

Towns and nature have different make-up each season. Next time you visit the same place in different season, you have a new experience.

singapore
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4. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Thank you ETflyer... we hope to come back during flower season... and drive down to Kagoshima too!

Taipei, Taiwan
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5. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Singapore Mummy, thank you for your helpful answer. We've booked snow tyers. Can't wait for our short visit next week :)

Fukuoka, Japan
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6. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Roi A,

It's been an exceptionally and extremely cold week in Kyushu. Some roads were actually closed by snow. Fortunately, weather forecast says it will be warmer from 17th or 18th. I hope you will enjoy your travel.

singapore
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7. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Singapore mummy. thanks so much for sharing. really useful.

How did u input the numbers into the GPS ? or did you input by name?

I remember when i went to Hokkaido, we had to input a long series of number for each destination into the GPS.

singapore
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8. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Hi

The gps had options of input by address or telephone ... so we chose telephone and just key telephone number :)

Singapore
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9. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Thanks for sharing. We also traveled from 7 to 17 December but chose to drive only the section from Yufuin-Kurokawa-Aso-Takachiho-Miyazaki- Nichinan for 4 days then took public trains/buses for the rest of the trip.

My friend mistakenly forgot to book snow tires when renting the car (also from Nissan) and we were nearly caught out in snowy conditions at Makinoto pass in the Kuju highway on the way to Aso. We drove at 10km/h at that stretch, but so did everybody else! We had pretty bad weather in Aso area, it was snowy/cloudy and we couldn't get good views from Daikanbo or Kusanseri. Mount Inasa ropeway was closed for maintenance when we were in Nagasaki unfortuntely. We had wanted to see the night view. Some of our other comments:

-We thought Yufuin was simply overrun with group tourists, although there are some peaceful onsens away from the main areas

-We preferred quiet places like Kunisaki Peninsula, the Miyazaki/Nichinan Coast (especially the view at Umagase/Sea Cross)

-The whole Takachiho area is gorgeous.

-Trying out the different Rotenburo in Kurokawa is a delight, especially in the early morning or late evening, when all the day-trippers have left. We stayed in Ryokan Yamamizuki.

- We agree that Yutoku Inari Shrine is a gem. We did it by public transport and it is very easy to do en-route from Nagasaki to Fukuoka - the tourist information centre just beside the bus stop will even keep your luggage for free.

- Although badly damaged from the earthquake a couple of years ago, it is still worth walking around the grounds of Kumamoto Castle.

- For Nagasaki, Gunkanjima was the highlight for us. We thought the Atomic Bomb museum was much smaller and had less exhibits than the one in Hiroshima, although you can still spend around 2 hours at the museum and the peace park.

Edited: 15 January 2018, 11:23
singapore
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10. Re: Trip Report - Kyushu Self Drive December 2017

Thanks Timfp for your share.... we did want to go down to nichihan but thought it was just to rushed if we did....

Sad to have missed out gunkanjima... what about it did u enjoy and how long was the whole tour?

Looking at all the photos and videos of the trip we definitely hope to go back...

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