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using jr pass for 25 days in kyushu itinerary

using JR pass for 25 days in Kyushu itinerary

Hello all,

We are a group of 6 people (5 are elders) travelling in Kyushu from late January til late February for 25 days. We love onsen (I have tried very hard so that we won't be onsen-out in this trip however), scenic area and getting to know japanese family homes (so any home-stay suggestion woudl be great!). Since most participants are rather old, they don't want too much walking however and definitely no hiking (I did put in one very easy trail in Kirishima to see frost flower in Onami lake - crossing my fingers that the frost flower are still around when we get there ). We all come from tropical area so we don't want to stay too long in the cold (from 10degree C and above is most ideal). We are on budget (say 1500-2000$ per pax - is that too little/too much?).

We are qualified to drive in Japan but I don't feel comfortable to navigate in Japan in a long trip, in wintersnow, neither are we ready to pay high toll fee, drop-off fee, parking fee (especially the timed one), that may just increase our budget substantially without being able to foresee all additional cost. Plus our group is large so standard size car with great discount isn't an option. We will drive, however in the extremely remote area that are also easy to return car in a day or too at the same destination, like in here, as the day trip to Takachiho.

Enough explanation, here is our plan:

Day 1: Arrive at noon in Fukuoka, over night in Fukuoka
Day 2: Nagasaki day trip: Gunkanjima trip and Nomozaki daffodil festival / Kamome sightseeing train?
Day 3 - Day 10: Aso, Kurokawa and Beppu area, then back to Hakata/Nagasaki (northern course)
A course:
Day 3: Fukuoka - Beppu; Day 4: Beppu , Day 5: Kurokawa; Day 6: Aso , Day 7: Takachiho day trip, overnight in Aso - Day 8,9, 10: Aso back to Hakata and/or Nagasaki (some day in Saga is likely considered)
B course:
Day 3: Fukuoka - Aso , Day 4: Aso day trip and Takachiho in one day, Day 5: Kurokawa, Day 6: Beppu, Day 7: Beppu, Day 8,9,10: Beppu back to Hakata and/or Nagasaki (some day in Saga is likely considered)

Day 11: Sasebo Kujukushima island cruise + Oyster festival, then depart for Unzen and overnight there
Day 12: Unzen back to Nagasaki, try the ropeway (according to the website, the ropeway should start working again the day before after a long suspension perid, let's hope they work ontime)

Day 13: Lantern festival in Nagasaki
Day 14 -21: southern course
C Course: Hisatsu line over mountainous area down to Kagoshima and back up along the coast line with Izumi and Minamata
Day 14: Nagasaki -Kirishima (the scenic Hisatsu line) - Day 15: Kirishima (hopefully to see frost flower over Onami lake early Feb), Day 16: Kagoshima (rape flower around lake Ikeda), Day 17: Ibusuki, Day 18: Ibusuki, Day 19: Izumi, Day 20: Minamata(2 day trip with farmer family and crane observation), Day 21: Yatsushiro

D Course: along the coast first then back up with Hisatsu line
Day 14: Yatsushiro, Day 15: Izumi, Day 16: Minamata, Day 17: Kagoshima, Day 18: Ibusuki, Day 19: Ibusuki, Day 20: Kirishima, Day 21: Kirishima

Day 22-Day 25: Fukuoka (kita kyushu/ kurume area)

Does it look very tiredsome and complicated to you? It took me a long time to come up with these 4 options and I am still not very happy with it! Let me know if it is too ambitious and if I should any part out. I have been very unlucky finding during February 2016, Nagashi soumen, SL Hitoyoshi, Orange Hisatsu railway, and most likely acess to Aso crater aren't available. Many areas in winter will alos look majorly different than the advertising pictures we often found tourist site (like the green field of Kusasenri...). That is to say, that please let me know, if you think any area isn't recommended in winter. I prefer as little snow and coldness as possible (except for Unzen, Aso and Kirishima, I come there for the frost afterall).

Regarding transportation, do you think I should get the 21 day all Japan JR pass? or several northern Kyushu/ All kyushu pass would do? I am expecting lots of little charge here and there for taxi rides/bus rides/local train between places (I will try to book hotel as close to main station as possible though).

SunQ bus pass is also an option though it seems that the bus ride is much longer and not as comfortable and scenic as the rail? and I am assuming that most bus stations aren't in very convenient location to touristic areas unless I accept transfer (but with luggage I would like as little transfer as possible)

And since Orange line is suspended for renovation, any information regarding transporation for the coastline in Kagoshima (Izumi/Minamata that's not shinkansen would be greatly appreciated!)
Several big trip I mentioned above in the itinerary are something I have great concern for: Fukuoka- Aso, Nagasaki - Kirishima, Fukuoka-Kirishima, Yatsushima- Nagasaki, Nagasaki-Aso, Nagasaki -Beppu. Geographically, Nagasaki is just so out of the way but I have to come back there twice for 1/ the Nomozaki daffodil flower festival which ends by the end of January, 2/ the chinese new year lantern festival 7-9 days later! That really gives a huge increase of travel to the trip while most members in my groups won't be abe to endure such a long trip with more than 2 transfer. Any thought to reduce amount of time on transportation?

Also, this is a reunion family trip for members from all across the oceans, (and I am not kidding! we came from 4 different areas and 2 nations) rather than just a touring trip, we would be happy to stay at a scenic place (again, preferably warm) somewhere to cook and chill rather than just rushing for train and hopping from one spot to another. Any thought of a good town/apartment for rent/ hostel at a fairly low cost that's not too out of the way without the need of a car?

Thank you for your patience!

bichxa
bichxa

Hello there,

This looks like a very promising trip. I will require a bit of time to write a reply for this in detail. Expect it near the end of this week. If you have any high priory questions, post them below.

Thank you!
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hello again!

Kyushu is the best part of Japan for travel, at least if you ask me. I was actially traveling there around myself last week. Looking at your options, I would do a combination of plan A and plan D, these seem a little easier to me. Though all options are possible. What you could consider chanding is visting Beppu and change it for Yufuin. Yufuin is an Onsen resort a bit more inland from Beppu but its much nicer. Beppu is very industrial, while Yufuin is a more exclusive onsen resort in the mountains of Kyushu. There are also nice hikes to be made in the area. You can even climb the closeby mount Yufuin if you are up for it. There's also a beautiful train you can ride there called Yufuin no Mori.

I think you could also leave out Aso, with part of the area closed, it is not that interesting. Although you can still make beautiful hikes in the surrounding area. Instead you could visit the city of Kumamoto. It is a nice city to visit for a day, the castle is beautiful and the shopping streets are pleasant to walk around in.

As for the JR Pass, since you stay so much in Kyushu it would make sense to buy a Kyushu railpass, though you'll be traveling around so much that a 21 day JR Pass could also be helpful. It would also give you the ability to visit places outside of Kyushu, for instance a visit to Hiroshima would not be hard to plan in using the Shinkansen. You could consider the SunQbus but I think rail travel is a lot more comfortable.

I don't really see a way to cut out traveltime when visiting Nagasaki twice, the only way would be to cut out places you visit to stay closer to Nagasaki.

I've also been thinking long and hard on what would be a nice place to stay with your family but was unable to find something suitable. I am most of the time a solo traveler and use different kinds of accomodations. The only place that came to mind was the hostel on Sakura-Jima, the vulcano island close to Kagoshima. I know they have the facilities but I do not know if this place would be interesting enough for you all to stay. Fukuoka is also a save bet to stay, as there is much to do and Hakata station provides easy access to the rest of Kyushu.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hello Daniel,

Thank you for being extra helpful! and it is such a relief to hear that you just returned from Kyushu at this time of the year as well, since I have been very worried about the season will affect the beautiful views...

1/ Beppu vs. Yufuin: I am very much aware of the train option and that Beppu looks kinda ugly, but I would like to visit Beppu Jigoku Meguri and Hyotan onsen (the 3 star michellin !). arent' they in Beppu? have you visited them?
Yufuin looks nice but how different is it from Kurokawa? and it is probably pricier than Beppu, and ranges around Kurokawa price, is that correct? I think my budget would allow me to pick just one.

2/ My groups consists of mostly elders people, so no hiking! Did you visit Aso area in your recent trip? I would like to try out the Laputa Road, wonder if it is still nice in the winter?

3/ I am looking for hostel in Nagasaki area, do you have any favourite?

4/ Any thought on Kirishima? Have you gone there in winter?

bichxa
bichxa

Hello again!

1.) Beppu is indeed famous for different Jigoku (or hell onsen). Beppu and Yufuin are not that far apart. It is not too hard to visit the one whilst staying in the order. I do think that Yufuin is a bit similar to Kurokawa, so I guess you could leave it out.

2.) Laputa road can still be nice in Winter but you have to be lucky on the weather. It would also mean renting a car somewhere if you want to avoid hiking at all. You could make an A/B plan, where you have one option for good weather an other for not so good weather.

3.) Casa Noda is a nice hostel and close to Nagasaki station, however most hostels in Nagasaki seem to be good.

4.) I think I've only been there once in May, so I am not sure about Winter. The train ride is quite nice to make, which I don't think will be different in winter.

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

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