Getting There

The northeast end of Kyushu has at least four major ferry ports (Moji, Shin-Moji, Beppu and Oita), and there are others further down the coast at Hyuga and Miyazaki, making ferry one of the most convenient ways to get to get to Kyushu. More to the point, it's also probably the cheapest: the ferry from Osaka to Beppu is only 6800 yen. Ferries also generally arrive in the early morning, so you don't lose a day in transit. If you want to do this route by starting from Moji or Shin-Moji at the top of the island, be advised that this will add about 50 km to your cycling distance. Unless the times don't work out otherwise, I'd recommend saving this ferry for when you do the North Kyushu route, or using it only if you plan to cycle south, touring the sites around the Yaba-kei area in the interior before joining up with the Yamanami Highway around Mizuwake-toge Pass or the Kokonoe area slightly west of that region. (These places are covered in the North Kyushu section.)

If you're coming by train, naturally you can get all the way to Beppu or whatever other starting point you want, though this will invariably involve a change of trains at Fukuoka or elsewhere. If you don't want to puff all the way up to the Yamanami, you can cheat by taking the train through Oita to Minami-Yufu or Yufuin. For that matter, you could take the train the whole way.... in which case you should probably be on the “ web site (assuming it exists) instead of this one. :-)


Kyushu has the full range of accommodations that the other Japanese isles have, though you'll be hard pressed to find anything but minshuku in some areas. If you plan to stay at Beppu, there's a youth hostel (naturally a hot springs) and many other options. Youth hostelers should also know that the Aso Youth Hostel is ideally situated to make an early morning assault on Japan's (and supposedly the world's) largest caldera. The hostel parent was also helpful in route planning and even took me in his car to a hole-in-the-wall truck-stop place for a dinner of regional specialties that was both inexpensive and absolutely delicious. The top of Aso reportedly also has a YH or YMCA ("YH Kumamoto YMCA Aso Camp," 0967-35-0124) - not sure whether this is a YH or a YMCA, but in any case it offers accommodation at YH prices. There are also lots of places to stay at nearby Yunotani, at all price levels, as well as other areas. If you're not sure of your pace up steep hills and prefer to break up the first day's distance into two legs, Yufuin would also make a great overnighter, and having some extra time to explore this relaxed hot springs town would be great if your schedule permits. Yufuin has a youth hostel as well, and many minshuku; contact the tourist office (in Japanese) at (0977) 85-4464. Youth hostels in Takachiho and Miyazaki are OK but not spectacular. The YH in Takachiho is a second-floor room right on the highway, but it's in a minshuku, so you're getting a minshuku at YH rates (though the food was not particularly outstanding) - and the proprieters are nice. The one in Miyazaki is a tatami mat room in an office building, believe it or not -- but it's right downtown, so the location is great for exploring Miyazaki. Regarding Ebino and Kirishima: to repeat the advice in the Story text, if you want to explore the plateau, I recommend staying at Ebino rather than descending all the way to Kirishima (though there's a youth hostel at Kirishima as well); this may cost you a bit more than usual. My references show a kokumin shukusha, Ebino Kogen-so (0984-33-0161) with room prices 10,190 - 13,815 yen, and a lodge named Karakuni-so (0984-33-0650) with room prices 9,500 - 13,000 yen - both of these include dinner and breakfast. There's also a campsite. Another option would be to stay at Shiratori Onsen (0984-33-1104), on the way up to Ebino on Route 30; this would seem to be much more reasonable at 2,690 yen per night not including meals, but it is likely to be quite a bit out of your way, especially if you go up through Aya-cho from Miyazaki. You can also call the Ebino tourist office (in Japanese) at (0984) 35-1111 to check on other places to stay and make reservations. If you plan to overnight at Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largeset cities, you'll have a wide array of choices: youth hostels, hotels, ryokan, minshuku, etc., many with hot springs baths. The YH is on the quasi-island of Sakurajima (take a ferry across the harbor) and is ideally situated for cycling around the "island."


This route is designed to hit most of the major sights that Kyushu has to offer apart from Nagasaki (Beppu, Mt. Aso, Ebino/Kirishima, Kagoshima/Sakurajima), and these sights are covered fairly well in the Story text. A nearby sidelight, the major shrine of Usa Jinja, is covered in the Alternatives section, and this can also be visited on the North Kyushu route. Here are a few additional notes:


If you have an extra day or half-day at the start of your trip, you might go hell-hopping (!) at the boiling ponds and puddles: touristy but interesting, with bubbling mudholes, clear and blood-red boiling lakes, etc. It would be best to avoid weekends/holidays, as Beppu gets very crowded. At some of the hot springs near the beach, you can also experience sunaburo (sand bathing) without having to go all the way down to Ibusuki south of Kagoshima, the city most well known for it. These places also offer mud baths and the other things you'd expect in a hot springs resort.


'Nuf said. Biggest hole in the world, dramatic view from top, and the ride up is equally pleasant through cow and horse pastureland (very reminiscent of Hokkaido). You can also hike along trails at the top (initially fogged in on my last visit, very spooky). If you've got time, spend an extra day wandering around and hot-spring-hopping.


In addition to the natural wonders, there are some man-made ones: Asia's two tallest road arch bridges, and its tallest rail bridge. If you have the time, you can take a boat through the gorge or rent your own rowboat, or hike down via the trail.


This area has seven hot springs areas within a five-kilometer-square radius, crisscrossed by hiking trails. If you have an extra day, by all means explore. Kirishima - it's worth a visit, but I recommend stopping by there on your way down the hill; unless you're really into shrines, it's not worth an overnighter (though it is nicer to wander the huge shrine in the early morning hours sans the tourist hordes).


The palm-tree-lined streets of Kagoshima offer many sites relating to Meiji-era Japan of 140 -odd years ago, and in particular Saigo Takamori, one of Japan's greatest modern leaders. On the east side of Sakurajima is the torii of a shrine buried in the 1914 eruption, with only a few feet poking up out of the lava. Sakurajima produces both the world's smallest mikan (tangerines) and the world's largest daikon radishes; you're sure to see lots of both.

Getting Away

The basic getaway routes presented here assume that you will be ending in, and therefore leaving from, Kagoshima, and that you will be trying to get back to somewhere in central Japan. Ferry options are extremely limited in this direction; although there is a ferry to Osaka from Ibushi, that's way over on the eastern coast, at least 60 km away (ferry over to Sakurajima and then head due east). The best option is probably train -- and it's actually a pretty reasonably-priced option, due to the nightly "tokkyu" trains with their "Legato" seats which are a unique combination between a regular seat and a sleeper. The wide, comfortable seats in this single car of the nightly "tokkyu" sleeper trains tilt very far back, enabling you to get almost a normal night's sleep, for only a little bit more than a regular "tokkyu" ticket -- hence no whopping sleeper charges, which automatically tack on 6800 yen (the cost of a budget hotel room!) to the price of your ticket. The current train schedule shows two trains, both departing from Nishi-Kagoshima (and Kagoshima, the next station); the first (named Akitsuki) goes to Kyoto and the second one (Naha) leaves about an hour later and goes to Shin-Osaka. Since both trains go through Hakata, you can use them to get back from Nagasaki or other destinations in Kyushu as well. Warning: the number of Legato seats is limited, as there may be only one "Legato" car on the train, so reservations are a good idea at any time and are absolutely essential during peak travel times like Golden Week. As with any other travel information, you should confirm times and availability with a travel agent.

For other options, see the Alternatives page.


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