There is nothing not to love about Japan—the beautiful landscapes, rich history, scrumptious local delicacies and exciting seasonal activities to take part in. Japan is a country that is worth visiting countless times because there is just so much to see and do there.
When we talk about Japan, most of you would inevitably think of the more popular destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido. For your next trip to the land of the rising sun, why not take the road less traveled and venture to Kyushu Island instead?
As Japan’s third largest island, Kyushu is a spectacular place that is known for its scenic countryside, stunning geographical formations, bubbling hot springs and friendly locals. It is the perfect getaway from the hubbub of city life and is where you will find like-minded nature lovers.
If you are ready for a week of adventure and fun at Kyushu Island, read our 5D4N Kyushu Itinerary to know the best places to visit, things to do and local food to try. We know you will love the place as much as we did!
DAY ONE -
KUMAMOTO & KAGOSHIMA PREFECTURES
11am: Kawasemi-Yamasemi is a new two-car express train that brings you from Kumamoto all the way to Hitoyoshi. Passengers are able to take in the beautiful views of nature such as the magnificent Kuma River when they sit by window-facing counter seats on the train.
#2 HAVE LUNCH AT SHIRASAGI-SO
1pm: Shirasagi-so is a traditional Japanese restaurant nestled within a 100-year-old building in Hitoyoshi. What you have to try there is their Ayu and Unagi set meals.
#3 BOAT RIDING AT KUMAGAWA
3pm: A boat ride at Kumagawa is a fun activity for everyone in the family—passengers learn how to steer the boat using the heavy wooden oars.
Pass by many fishermen on the way and watch them use long fishing rods to catch Ayu. All the passengers on board were screaming in delight when we saw the friendly fishermen reel in successful catches.
#4 DINNER AT KUMASO-TEI
6pm: Conveniently located within the Ten-monkan Street, Kumaso-tei is a great place to try Kagoshima’s local specialties. We thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent Mikoto Course (¥3240/ S$39.17).
DAY TWO -
KAGOSHIMA & MIYAZAKI PREFECTURES
#5 VISIT THE FAMOUS SENGAN-EN GARDEN
10am: Highlights at Sengan-en Garden include the Tsurugane Shrine, 150-pound iron cannon, remains of the Reverberatory Furnace and various small shops selling local snacks. When you are there, try the Jumbo Mochi and Murasaki-imo (purple sweet potato ice cream).
#6 LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SUSHI
1pm: Learn how to make your own sushi at Sushi Madoka at Kagoshima City. Guests get to put on their own Happi Coat (chef’s robe) and hat so you really do feel like a proper sushi chef. The kids will definitely love this!
3pm: Kyushu’s sightseeing trains are a wonder and they bring you to the most interesting places as well. Hyato-no-kaze takes you on a scenic journey from Kagoshima-chuo to Yoshimatsu. Along the way, the train will stop for a few minutes at some of the oldest train stations in Kyushu.
#8 GO FOR AN AGRICULTURAL EXPERIENCE
5pm: Nature lovers should not miss out on this fun and educational agricultural experience at Kita Kirishima Mountain, which is in Kobayashi City. Guests will also be treated to a scrumptious tempura dinner which is cooked on the spot using Sakura cherry tree branches as firewood.
We had an enjoyable time chatting with the friendly locals who were so welcoming and are keen to share more about their way of life in the mountains.
DAY THREE -
MIYAZAKI & OITA PREFECTURES
#9 WAKE UP FOR A HIKE AT TAKACHIHO GORGE
10am: Takachiho Gorge is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Miyazaki Prefecture and it is a sight to behold. Besides summer, autumn is another wonderful season to visit as you will be greeted by a view of gorgeous caramel-coloured leaves pirouetting around the tree branches.
Boat riding (¥2,000/ S$24.17 for 30mins) is a popular activity there as you get to row through the rivers, right to the basin of Manai Waterfall which is about 17m in height. If boat rowing is not your thing, take a short hike up the footpath.
#10 LUNCH AT TAKACHIHO RESTAURANT
1pm: If you happen to be visiting Takachiho Gorge, drop by Takachiho Beef Restaurant Nagomi which is less than 10 minutes drive away. You must order the Takachiho Beef Steaks Set Meal (¥2,000/ S$24.17 for 100g as Miyazaki’s cattle is famed for having won numerous national wagyu awards.
#11 HAVE A YAKATABUNE DINNER
7pm: The term ‘yakata’ refers to roof or tatami while ‘bune’ means boat. This is a Japanese cultural experience not to be missed as you get to dine on a boat in the middle of the river. At Mikuma Hotel in Oita, guests get to put on a classic yukata and relish in a scrumptious Japanese-style dinner.
The interesting cultural experience is something we will not forget in a hurry as this is not usual for city folks. The best part? We had such a memorable time chatting the night away while catching a romantic sunset together.
DAY FOUR -
OITA & FUKUOKA PREFECTURES
#12 TRY YOUR HAND AT AYU FISHING
12pm: Adventure junkies have to try their hand at Ayu fishing at Hita Ayu Yanaba in Hita City, Oita Prefecture. The Japanese restaurant has its own traditional bamboo trap that is designed to catch Ayu from the river. For those who have never caught fish with your bare hands before, this will prove to be an exciting challenge!
When you are ready for lunch, go for their Ayu set meal (¥1,800/ S$21.75) which features Ayu cooked in five different ways.
#13 TOUR AROUND YUFUIN VILLAGE
3pm: Yufuin Village in Oita Prefecture is located at the foot of the magnificent Mount Yufu. It is a shopping paradise for tourists and there are plenty of photogenic corners and spots! There is a mixture of souvenir shops, food kiosks, quaint cafes and bakeries offering local snacks.
#14 SATISFY YOUR TUMMY AT A YATAI
7pm: When you say Yatai most Japanese would think of Hakata! It’s that famous. Having dinner at a yatai in Fukuoka City is one of the best ways to mingle with the locals.
Some of the must-try dishes at a yatai are oden, deep-fried dumplings with mentai, shrimp and cheese and yakitori. You can find these food stands mainly at Nakasu and Tenjin in Fukuoka City.
DAY FIVE -
#15 TAKE THE SHINKANSEN BACK TO THE AIRPORT
10am: Japan’s shinkansen are high-speed railway trains that can go up to a jaw-dropping speed of 320km/hr! It is one of the fastest ways of getting to the airport.
INSIDER’S TIP -
TRAVEL WITH KYUSHU RAIL PASS
Traveling around Kyushu is actually more convenient with the JR Kyushu Pass as you do not have to purchase individual train tickets. The JR Rail Pass covers almost every JR line at Kyushu Island and we made full use of it during this trip to ride on the Shinkansen, local steam trains and even sightseeing trains.
Tourists can get the Kyushu Rail Pass at Hakata Station in Fukuoka City.
To find out more about other exciting things you can do in Kyushu, check out http://www.welcomekyushu.com/.
This post is brought to you by Kyushu Tourism Information.