Kyushu Explorer

Our tantalising Kyushu Explorer itinerary takes you far from the more famous Japanese cities to focus on the country’s smaller southern islands, where you’ll explore samurai castles, trek in a truly ancient cedar forest, and relax in the volcanic hot spring (and hot sand!) baths of a seaside resort.


At a glance
  • Explore the ruins of majestic Fukuoka castle with an expert guide
  • Discover Nagasaki’s most interesting historic sites
  • Experience one of the world’s finest night-time views
  • Head down the coast and off the beaten path to historic samurai towns
  • Savour the region’s freshest seafood and local produce
  • Row along spectacular Takachiho Gorge
  • Trek the mossy paths of subtropical Yakushima Island
  • Pay your respects to a 3,000 year old tree!
  • Relax in a seaside hot spring resort
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Fukuoka - 2 nights

Fukuoka grew from a castle town and its nearby port into the largest city on Kyushu island, and one of the oldest in Japan, known throughout the country as being the home of Zen Buddhism. The contrast between its two historic areas can be seen as you wander along the beaches at the redeveloped harbour area, and the waterways of Canal City, enjoying the museums, restaurants and futuristic skyline. The city is actually closer to Seoul than Tokyo, and shares many cultural ties with Korea and China. The result is most obvious in the city's diverse cuisine!

Day 1 - Arrive Fukuoka

On arrival in Japan, you'll be met by our representative, who will accompany you to your hotel. Excellent public transport is part of the Japan travel experience, so we'll be making the most of this throughout your trip. Once you’ve settled in, the remainder of your day will be at leisure to relax after your journey.

Day 2 - Historic city tour

Includes:

Join your expert local guide for a tour of Fukuoka, starting with a stroll through the 18th century Yusentei Japanese Garden with its tranquil lake. Explore the ruins of the once-majestic Fukuoka castle, and spend some time admiring Tocho-ji, a temple which dates back to 805 AD. From here, it’s just a short walk to Kushida, the city’s most important shrine, which hosts the annual Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. You’ll get the chance to see the colourful festival floats before your guide escorts your back to your hotel (or leaves to explore the city under your own steam).

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Nagasaki - 2 nights

Nagasaki boasts one of the world’s most stunning harbours, its deep waters favourable for international trade and sustaining Japan’s link to the outside world for over 400 years. For superb (and potentially vertigo-inducing) views over the city, take the cable car up Mount Inasa - it’s impressive during the day, and magical at night.

Day 3 - Train to Nagasaki, city tour

Includes:

Catch the train to Nagasaki and drop your luggage at your hotel before meeting your guide to explore some of the city’s significant sites. You’ll start with Oura Cathedral, Japan’s oldest Christian church, which has an interesting museum about the controversial history of Christianity within the country. Strolling along the cobbled streets at Glover Garden, you’ll see reassembled homes and buildings from the Meiji era, pausing to enjoy hilltop views over the city’s famous harbour. Head down the historic Dutch quarter to see European style buildings from the 19th century, before catching the cable car to the top of Mt Inasa to experience one of the world’s most spectacular night-time views.

Day 4 - Explore Nagasaki under your own steam

Includes:

Today is at leisure to continue exploring the city. We recommend visiting the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Park and Museum, where monoliths and monuments serve as a gentle yet powerful reminder of the nuclear attack suffered by the city during World War II. Alternatively, take a boat trip to Hashima, the abandoned underwater mining facility used as the Bond villain’s lair in ‘Skyfall’.

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Kumamoto - 2 nights

Kumamoto's majestic samurai-era castle used to be considered impregnable, from its construction in the 1460s right up to 1877, when parts of it were destroyed by unhappy samurai who had armed themselves with cannon. These days, the fieriest encounter you’ll have in Kumamoto is with the local delicacy – lotus root stuffed with mustard. The city’s cuisine is known for its high quality produce and seafood, thanks to its coastal location and the region’s rich agriculture. And despite the samurai, the castle is still one of the most impressive in Japan...

Day 5 - Train to Kumamoto, castle visit

Includes:

Catch the train to Kumamoto for an afternoon at leisure in the city. The castle is very much worth a visit despite its damaged structure, and you may also wish to explore the 17th century Suizen-ji Joju-en Garden. Along with its impressive landscaping, the garden features a miniature reproduction of the 53 post stations of the Edo-era Tokaido (a historic post-road connecting Tokyo & Kyoto). You'll even see a mini Mt. Fuji!

Day 6 - Optional day trip to Takachiho

Includes:

Your day is yours to do as your please, but we do recommend a day trip to the spectacular Takachiho Gorge, a site of outstanding natural beauty. The narrow chasm, cut through towering cliffs of twisted volcanic basalt by the Gokase River, can be explored either by rowing boat or on foot. The path leads to the ancient Takachiho Shrine, and there is also 17 metre high waterfall. You’ll return to Kumamoto in time to explore the shops and restaurants near the castle.

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Kagoshima - 2 nights

Carved deep into Kyushu’s south coast, Kagoshima Bay can be hot enough to brew tea, thanks to spluttering volcanic island that emerges from its centre. The volcano frequently billows clouds of ash into the sky, sometimes obscuring the sun, and locals use their umbrellas to avoid being showered in fine ash! Despite this, the city is known for being one of the sunniest places in Japan.

Day 7 - Train to Kagoshima

Includes:

Take the train to Kaghoshima, where the remainder of your day will be yours to spend as you wish.

Day 8 - City Tour

Includes:

Meet your guide for a tour of the city’s most intriguing sights, beginning with the Terukuni Shrine, built in memory of a revolutionary Satsuma leader. Kagoshima was once capital of the feudal Satsuma province, and its samurai were the ones who attacked Kumamoto Castle. Take a pleasant stroll to a hilltop observatory with superb views over the city and its coastal volcano, before heading to a traditional 17th century Japanese garden with a 19th century industrial iron manufactory which is UNESCO-protected. After lunch, catch the ferry to Sakurajima, the volcanic island in the harbour, to follow the 3km long ‘Lava Trail’ through the site of a historic eruption. Soak your tired feet in the volcanically heated foot baths in a nearby park before returning to your hotel.

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Yakushima - 2 nights

A subtropical island with a mountainous interior, lush rainy Yakushima is covered in a cedar forest that contains some of Japan's oldest living trees. Some of these are thought to be up to 7,000 years old, and luckily the forest has recovered from extensive logging during past centuries. The island is said to have inspired 'Princess Mononoke', and is a popular hiking destination with various trails for different abilities, along with spectacular waterfalls and hot spring baths.

Day 9 - Ferry to Yakushima island

Includes:

Relax on the two-hour ferry trip to Yakushima Island, where the remainder of the day will be free for you to settle in and relax.

Day 10 - Island trekking

Includes:

Accompanied by your local guide, spend the day trekking along the paths that wind through Yakushima’s dense forest. You’ll experience impressive views of the ancient moss-covered trees, and stop for a delicious bento picnic in the woods. Marvel at the 1,800 year old Buddha sugi tree and 3,000 year old Yamato sugi tree, before returning to your accommodation to relax.

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Ibusuki - 1 night

Ibusuki is a small hot spring resort town, famous in particular for its open-air hot sand baths on the beach, as well as the largest crater lake on Kyushu. At the town’s southern end you'll find Cape Nagasakibana, a lookout point with lovely views over the ocean and of nearby Mount Kaimon-dake, with its volcanic cone. The town has its own distinct ramen style, using local ingredients such as hot-spring-boiled egg, and seaside dishes like fried rice with deep-fried octopus.

Day 11 - Ferry to Ibusuki, hot springs

Includes:

Take the boat back to Kyushu and travel along the coast to Ibusuki for some time at leisure. We recommend enjoying the famous hot sand baths, which are heated naturally by hot steam from the ground below. Guests lie buried in the sand for up to 20 minutes before rinsing off and enjoying the hot spring baths. You’ll spend the night in a traditional Ryokan, where you’ll be served a multi-course kaiseki feast by your hosts.

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Kagoshima - 1 night

Enjoy a final night at leisure in the city before it’s time to move on.

Day 12 - Ibusuki at leisure, train to Kagoshima

Includes:

Your day will be at leisure to relax and explore until it’s time to catch the train back to Kagoshima.

Day 13 - Depart Kagoshima

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £2,854US$3,721 £2,580US$3,365 £2,355US$3,071

JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Hakata Chuo

With crisp interiors and familiar facilities, JR Kyushu Hakata Chuo ‘Blossom’ is a great no-nonsense option for city exploring...

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Hotel Monterey Nagasaki

The Hotel Monterey offers a characterful alternative to Nagasaki’s modern, high-rise hotels. Its’ architecture and décor reflect the city’s colonial heritage...

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Dormy Inn Hakata Gion Natural Hot Spring

A very convenient hotel in Fukuoka, this property is smart and reliable, and situated within easy reach of JR Hakata station and the centre of town... See more

Kagoshima Tokyu REI Hotel

A few minutes’ walk from the train station, with a tram stop just outside, the Kagoshima Tokyu REI Hotel is a clean and comfortable riverside option in the heart of this seaside city, with shops and restaurants on its doorstep...

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Yakushima Green Hotel

Close to Anbo Harbour, the hub of Yakushima Island, but surrounded by beautiful gardens complete with an enormous banyan tree, the Green Hotel is a serene and comfortable retreat, with vast sea views in almost all directions...

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Ibusuki Seaside Hotel

Sitting right on Kinko Bay, the Ibusuki Seaside Hotel is an unpretentious base for exploring the far south of Kyushu Island, and has wonderful sea views, a lovely outdoor pool and a hot spring bath overlooking the sea...

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Superior £3,523US$4,594 £3,269US$4,263 £3,044US$3,969

Hotel Nikko Fukuoka

A very short walk from Hakata station, the Hotel Nikko is a convenient and well-equipped choice for accommodation in Fukuoka, with a good range of dining options on the premises... See more

Hotel New Nagasaki

Hotel New Nagasaki is a pleasant and practical modern high-rise hotel in a super-central location, just steps from great transport links and Nagasaki’s main attractions...

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Hotel Nikko Kumamoto

Centrally located in Kumamoto’s Chuo ward, with views of Kumamoto castle and the hills beyond, Hotel Nikko is an ideal base for exploring the city’s historic sights… See more

Shiroyama Hotel

The Shiroyama Hotel is located on a hill overlooking Kagoshima City, and enjoys views of Sakurajima and Kinko Bay. Soak up these views as you bathe in the outdoor onsen...

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JR Hotel Yakushima

From its clifftop perch on the southern coast of the island of Yakushima, the JR Hotel enjoys enviable uninterrupted ocean views, with Mount Mocchomu as a backdrop...

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Koran-No-Yu Kinkouroh

Standing right by the sea, and 5km from the centre of Ibusuki, the Koran-No-Yu Kinkouroh is a quiet, clean and relaxing base for exploring southern Kyushu...

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Deluxe £3,655US$4,766 £3,437US$4,481 £3,216US$4,193

Grand Hyatt Fukuoka

Embedded in Canal City - a smart complex in central Fukuoka - the Grand Hyatt is an impressive property all round... See more

Hotel New Nagasaki

Hotel New Nagasaki is a pleasant and practical modern high-rise hotel in a super-central location, just steps from great transport links and Nagasaki’s main attractions...

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Hotel Nikko Kumamoto

Centrally located in Kumamoto’s Chuo ward, with views of Kumamoto castle and the hills beyond, Hotel Nikko is an ideal base for exploring the city’s historic sights… See more

Shiroyama Hotel

The Shiroyama Hotel is located on a hill overlooking Kagoshima City, and enjoys views of Sakurajima and Kinko Bay. Soak up these views as you bathe in the outdoor onsen...

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Sankara Hotel & Spa

Thanks to its outstanding location on Yakushima Island’s southeast coast, amidst thick forest overlooking the sea, the luxurious Sankara Hotel & Spa plunges you deep into the
landscape…

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Koran-No-Yu Kinkouroh

Standing right by the sea, and 5km from the centre of Ibusuki, the Koran-No-Yu Kinkouroh is a quiet, clean and relaxing base for exploring southern Kyushu...

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Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.

While many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: Japanese hotel contracts are extremely seasonal in comparison to most of their Asian counterparts and therefore you should expect surcharges at various times of the year, including weekends, not just during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year and Cherry Blossom. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.


Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • All train tickets and rail passes as listed
  • Luggage forwarding service as listed
  • 4G Wi-Fi To Go Package
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will not require a visa to enter Japan. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

What to expect from us in Japan

Japan's excellent public transport & exceptional safety allow us to offer a more self-guided experience than we do elsewhere. It's a famously expensive country, so we often suggest more independent exploration, with our exclusive self-guide app on hand to help you unearth our hidden gems. This helps to keep your costs down, and the data is on us.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.