Getting There

Because it’s Kyushu, you’d think there’s got to be a LOT of access by ferry, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, although there used to be a ferry direct from Osaka to a port 10km from Kagoshima, this appears to no longer be the case; you can get relatively close to Kagoshima but not all the way there by ferry. The closest ferry runs from Osaka to Shibushi southeast of the city, and that means a 65 km bicycle ride to get to the city via Sakurajima or a  2 1/2 hour bus ride (via Kagoshima Airport, as it turns out). Ferries also go between Osaka and Beppu, between Kobe (Rokko Island) and Oita, and between Kobe (Sannomiya) and Miyazaki, and of course there are ferries that dock even farther north (at Shin-Moji, at the top of the island). Despite how much time they take, ferries through the Inland Sea are a wonderful way to travel, and they’re relatively inexpensive. Taking a ferry at night and arriving early in the morning is also a way to save on overnight accommodations.

In these days of competing Low Cost Carriers (LCC), of course, the best way to get there might be by plane to Kagoshima Airport, especially if you’re time-constrained or traveling from Tokyo or parts of Japan farther away than Kansai.

Japan’s bullet train system now goes all the way to Kagoshima, and from Shin-Kobe you can be there in as little as three and a half hours at a cost of a little over 20,000 yen (one-way). Note that this will be more expensive than an LCC plane ticket, but also remember that those tickets include nothing but a small carry-on so the bagged bicycle and your backpack and other gear will be an extra charge, so shop carefully.

Lastly, there are overnight buses that go all the way from Osaka and Kobe to Kagoshima, arriving at around nine in the morning, but remember that bagged bicycles are prohibited on virtually all overnight buses, so you would need to either get special permission to carry your bicycle or ship the bicycle separately.


There are campgrounds all along the route. Examples include the Fukiagehama Kaihin Koben (park) in Minami-Satsuma at the beginning of the first bikepath; at two places on Nagashima, such as just before Kuranomoto where you take the first ferry to the Amakusa islands; at Reihoku at the top of the island; at three places on the western coast after the second ferry; at several points in and around Unzen; and even in Nagasaki (at Shimin no Mori). There’s a scrollable map (all in Japanese, but it shows locations) at .

The Youth Hostel at Fukiagehama is... well, let’s just call it funky. It’s very bare-bones and almost seems open-air; it’s the first time I’ve ever been bitten by a sand fly anywhere in Japan! On the other hand, the owner may seem gruff but is nice, and will actually drive you down to a store to buy food or to the local onsen (he goes every night when the rush is over and it’s less crowded). On this route, this is the only youth hostel until Nagasaki (sadly, it appears the one on Sakurajima in Kagoshima has closed).

Other than that, online reservation services like jalan and rakuten have taken quite a bit of the trauma out of trying to find a place for the night. Even if you don’t want to use their services, the sites have information about specific hotels and inns that includes lots of photos and the actual phone number of the place, so you can contact them directly if you suddenly find you need a place. As mentioned in Story & Photos, the tourist office at Ushibuka is also very helpful for Amakusa information and recommendations, and that would be true of tourist offices in the larger cities (Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Shimabara) as well. Remember that in the countryside a “ryokan” can often be as cheap as a minshuku, especially if you’re not having them prepare meals.


Kagoshima is a nice city in its own right, as you know if you ended up there as part of the Across Kyushu route.

Although this route doesn’t go there and therefore it’s not covered in Story & Photos, the city of Amakusa is reportedly small but nice and offers lots to see, including a museum and Christian graves and other sites. There’s also dolphin watching, and a summer festival (July 31 - August 7) that features dancing in the streets. Several bridges from the city lead east to the nearby smaller of the two Amakusa islands, which also reportedly has some very nice cycling and is worth a look (again, if you have the time). Also, as mentioned on the title page, there’s also a bridge from the second (easternmost) of the two Amakusa islands to the Kyushu mainland, but it will be a VERY long roundabout trip to get from there to Nagasaki — but the option exists in case you need it due to ferry cancelation. See Alternatives for more information. If you wanted to travel through both Amakusa islands, you could always just cycle to Kumamoto afterward and end up there — essentially turning this into a Kagoshima to Kumamoto route.

Getting Away

Although Nagasaki is a port town, there’s no ferry access to anywhere except one of the Goto Islands to the west; your options for getting away are train, plane or long-distance bus (with the same caveat about probably having to ship your bicycle separately in the case of an overnight bus). From Kansai, the bullet train will take slightly longer and cost you slightly less than getting to Kagoshima since you’re not going as far and not all the way by (expensive) bullet train. People trying to return to Tokyo should probably look for an inexpensive plane ticket.

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