Warm, colourful and brimming with bustling night markets, tantalising tea farms stashed deep in the hills, winding rivers, simmering volcanoes and a tragic history – Kyushu is truly a phoenix from the ashes. On this epic 6D5N tour, tap into all your senses as you taste, hike, soak and cruise your way around Japan’s most beautiful southern main island. Visit the sweeping hot springs of Beppu, drift down the dreamy Yanagawa Canals, and fall in love with ancient rural cities and towns awash with temples, trading ports, and the warm welcome of local communities.
This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.
Upon arrival, begin your journey at the yatai — or food carts — night market in the evening. As the sun sets for the evening, these street stalls start popping up all over the city with their bright lights and shop curtains for a lively, dynamic sight that can only be found in the downtown ward of Hakata. The night market offers a variety of cuisines and alcoholic beverages, such as tonkotsu ramen, gyoza, oden, as well as original dishes. Set against the perfect atmosphere for socialising with shopkeepers and customers, weave around to experience first-hand the warm-hearted nature of the locals and soak up the vibrant ambience. When you’ve had your fill, both literally and figuratively, head back to the hotel for a restful night’s sleep.
Start your first full day with a hearty breakfast before visiting the porcelain heaven of Nabeshima’s porcelain village. Dip in and out of the shops and spend as much time as you want discovering all the potteries showcasing different designs, colours and patterns.For lunch, dine in a beautiful architectural restaurant and tuck into delicious Japanese fare like Seiro-style saga wagyu beef served in Arita ware porcelain. Arita ware porcelain boasts a 400-year history, and Nabeshima ware porcelain — a related technique that branched off from Arita ware over 300 years ago — was once made secretly in Okawachitama.After lunch, head to the hot spring town of Ureshino and enjoy the breath-taking vistas of tea farms from the top of the mountain and return in time to meet farmers for an authentic tea ceremony experience. At night, look forward to relaxing in an open-air hot spring — a specialty of the town — before or after a kaiseki dinner. You will stay in a traditional ryokan tonight — complete with comfortable beds to sink into on tatami floors.
Today starts with a leisurely cruise along the Yanagawa Canals while you enjoy the scenic view of the riverside town. Known for hundreds of kilometres of canals, Yanagawa was originally a farming village, with these waterways built hundreds of years ago for irrigation. The canals have since been restored and piled by donkubune (low flat boats powered by a man with a pole) that take tourists on short cruises around the town.Break for an unagi lunch before heading to Kumamoto castle, a hilltop gem that’s recognised as one of the three most stunning castles in Japan. Look forward to a yakitori dinner before checking in to another five-star hotel featuring western-style rooms.
Wake up to a Japanese and western buffet breakfast before kicking the day off with a hike up Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan in the centre of Kyushu, and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the crater from the top. With a diameter of up to 25 km and a circumference of over 100 km, it’s no wonder that people once lived inside the caldera.After hiking, head to Takachiho to watch a kagura performance in the Takachiho shrine. The show includes four representative dances from the kagura repertoire of 33 dances. Feel the gratitude for nature’s bounty through the traditional steps.Meals today include a Kumamoto beef donburi lunch and casual kaiseki dinner. You will stay in another western-style room again tonight.
The morning kicks off with a visit to eight different jigokus (hell), or hot springs, in the southern city of Beppu. The name jigoku was derived from the fact that the site is unapproachable because of fumarolic gas — a mix of harmful gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide — that has been gushing from the grounds for a millennium.After a sushi lunch, make your way to Yufuin, another hot spring mecca. Yunotsubo, a street near Yufuin Station, is filled with a variety of shops that sell Yufuin and Oita specialty products, food, souvenirs, and much more. After browsing, check-in to a traditional ryokan set deep in nature for the night and enjoy a kaiseki dinner.
Leave Yufuin and stop by at Rakanji temple on the way to Hakata. Built on the top of a mountain, and constructed around 700 years ago, this Buddhist temple will steal your breath away. It is claimed to have 3700 stone Buddhas, several caves, and many preserved scriptures.
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Fukuoka, Nabeshima, Ureshino, Yanagawa, Kumamoto, Kyushu, Takachiho, Beppu. Yufuin and Hakata.
April (12°C-18°C) to June (21°C-24°C).
Easy to Moderate. No difficult hikes involved.
From US$4,480/person for a group of 2 on a private basis, including double-sharing rooms. Excludes flights.
As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.
This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.