Category Archives: Kyushu Area

Kyushu is located in south part of Japan. It is the third biggest island in Japan. Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures in this island.

Direct access to Fukuoka (Hakata), Kumamoto, Kagoshima from Osaka. Kyushu Shinkansen

Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa
Kyushu Shinkansen Tsubasa

Kyushu Shinkansen runs between Hakata and Kagoshima-Chuo. But many trains run from Shin-Osaka and carry many passengers from Kansai area to Kyushu. This is the best way to get Kyushu from Osaka and Hiroshima. But some trains are not covered by JR Pass. I would like to show you about this Shinkansen system in this post. Continue reading

Kyushu Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Kyushu for oversea visitors.

Kusasenri at Mt.Aso can be accessed by Aso or Miyaji station on Houhi line. ©JNTO
Kusasenri at Mt.Aso can be accessed by Aso or Miyaji station on Houhi line. ©JNTO

If you will travel in Kyushu only, JR Kyushu offers unlimited train travel at very reasonable rate. This offer, Kyushu Rail Pass should be the best choice for you. JR Kyushu sells two types of passes, All Kyushu Pass and Northern Kyushu Pass. If you travel in only northern area of Kyushu, you can get much better deal. But if you travel in other cities and areas, even just staying in Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, you may consider about other passes. You should compare and make sure which one is more suitable for you.

In this post, I show you the details about both Kyushu Rail Pass All area type and Kyushu Rail Pass Northern area type. And I will compare Kyushu Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass. And I check the difference between Kyushu Rail Pass and JR Sanyo-Shikoku-Kyushu Rail Pass as well. Continue reading

Access to Amakusa from Kumamoto. Limited Express A Ressha de Iko (Take the ‘A’ train)

Ltd Exp A Train runs between Kumamoto and Misumi is not covered by Northern area pass.  (C) Jonathan Ayre
Ltd Exp A Train runs between Kumamoto and Misumi is not covered by Northern area pass. (C) Jonathan Ayre

Limited Express “A Ressha de Iko (Take the ‘A’ train)” was introduced in October 2011. This is the first express train to Misumi in more than 20 years. JR Kyushu tried to expand the market to Amakusa and tie up with Seacruise ferry service to Amakusa. It is easily connected with them at Misumi station and port of Misumi. Port of Misumi is located just in front of the station You cannot miss it.

This train is named from jazz standard “Take the ‘A’train”. So this music will be played at the bar. Misumi station is the gateway of Amakusa. So “Take the ‘A’ train” means this train take you to ‘A’makusa.

Let’s see the details about Takes the ‘A’ train. Continue reading

My trip from Kumamoto to Kagoshima-chuo on March 16, 2012 by Kumagawa, Isaburo and Hayato no Kaze

Isaburo and local train at Yoshimatsu station
Isaburo and local train at Yoshimatsu station

When you go to Kagoshima, Kyushu Shinkansen is the best way to get there. It is fast and the trains come very frequently. But if you have a time, please consider the route from Kumamoto to Kagoshima-Chuo via Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu on Hisatsu line (肥薩線). It is very scenic route. JR Kyushu operate very attractive trains on this route.

I got on three trains, Kumagawa (くまがわ) from Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi, Isaburo (いさぶろう) from Hitoyoshi to Yoshimatsu and Hayato no Kaze (はやとの風) from Yoshimatsu to Kagoshima-Chuo, to travel on this line. I would like to share my experience with you. Continue reading

My trip to Udo Jingu shrine by local bus and limited express train Umisachi-Yamasachi.

Udo Jingu shrine is located at Nichinan coast. It is very scenic! (C) JP Rail

Udo Jingu shrine (鵜戸神宮) was one of the place where I really loved to go. When I had a trip to Takachiho, I had a time to go there. I use a local bus on the way and get on cruising train Umisachi-Yamasachi on the way back from Udo Jingu shrine.I would like to show you how to access to Udo Jingu shrine by both transportation. Continue reading

How to access to Takachiho by bus. How much can we use Japan Rail Pass?

Takachiho Gorge and Manai Falls (C) JP Rail

Takachiho (高千穂) is known as the land of Japanese Mythology (日本神話). There are lots of shrines and places that are related to Mythology. And also Takachiho Gorge is one of the “Must-See” spot in southern Kyushu area.

I visited there in mid March, 2012. I would like to share my experience with you. I hope this will be helpful for your trip to Takachino. Continue reading

How to access from Fukuoka airport to downtown Hakata and Tenjin.

Fukuoka subway train (C) JP Rail
Fukuoka subway train (C) JP Rail

Some of you may arrive at Fukuoka International Airport (FUK) from your countries directly. You may transit at Haneda and take domestic flight to Fukuoka. I have received questions about Fukuoka airport and Hakata (博多) station. I have just visited Fukuoka airport by subway. I would like to share what I got with you. Continue reading

Most popular train in Kyushu now! Access to Ibusuki from Kagoshima, Limited Express Ibusuki no Tamatebako

Ibusuki no Tamatebako is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. Black and White paint is very creative. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Ibusuki no Tamatebako is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. Black and White paint is very creative. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Ibusuki no Tamatebako (指宿のたまて箱) is limited express train that is operated between Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央) and Ibusuki (指宿). Japan Rail Pass completely cover this train with no extra charge. But there is no non reserved seat. Reservation must be required.

This is the first limited express train on this section, Ibusuki-Makurazaki line. This train runs very slow and is operated for sightseeing along the shoreline of Kagoshima inlet. This train is operated by specialized KIHA 47 series. This train has the true Japanese atmosphere. The crew attendants are on board. Since this train has been started to operate, this is one of most popular train. It is very hard to book a seat.

*I tried to book only two days after starting to sell. Five of six trips were completely sold out. One trips was too early for my schedule. So I was forced to give up!

I will show you many images of this train and would like to share the details with you. Continue reading

Limited Express train Midori/Huis Ten Bosch. Direct transfer from Hakata to Sasebo and Huis Ten Bosch.

Most of Midori are serviced by 783 series.
Most of Midori are serviced by 783 series.

Limited express “Midori” connects the gateway city in Kyushu, Hakata with very historical port city Sasebo. Some of trains are operated with Limited Express “Huis Ten Bosch” that is most popular theme park in Kyushu. When you go to Sasebo or Huis Ten Bosch, take Shinkansen to Hakata and change these trains.

Of course, these express trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass without any restriction. So let’s see the details. Continue reading

Easy rail excursion along Nichinan coast in Miyazaki by Limited Express Umisachi-Yamasachi

Limited Express train Umisachi-Yamasachi is operated by refurbished KIHA125 series.
Limited Express train Umisachi-Yamasachi is operated by refurbished KIHA125 series.

Umisachi-Yamasachi (海幸山幸) is limited express train that is operated between Miyazaki (宮崎) and Nango (南郷). This train is named from Yamasachihiko (山幸彦) and Umisachihiko (海幸彦) in Japanese mythology.

This is not a real express train and is a kind of cruising train for sightseeing along Nichinan line (日南線). This train is suitable for the tourists who go to Aoshima (青島) and Udo Jingu shrine (鵜戸神宮) at Nichinan coastline (日南海岸). This train makes your trip more memorable.

If you use Japan Rail Pass, you can take this train with no extra cost. I will show you some images of this train and tell you the details. Continue reading

Best cruising local train in Kyushu. Local train Isaburo / Shinpei

Izaburo / Shinpei are mostly operated by restored KIHA 147 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Izaburo / Shinpei are mostly operated by restored KIHA 147 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Isaburo (いざぶろう) and Shinpei (しんぺい) are same local trains. The only difference is the direction. Isaburo is the train that departs from Hitoyoshi (人吉) to Yoshimatsu (吉松). Shinpei is operated from Yoshimatsu to Hitoyoshi. Both Isaburo and Shipei are the name of the key persons when the construction of this section was completed. Isaburo is the named from Isaburo Yamagata (山縣伊三郎) who was the minister of transportations and telecommunications. Shinpei is named from Shinpei Goto (後藤新平) who was the persident of Japanese Government Railways.

These trains are the local trains. But most of seats are reserved seat. And this train is not just local train but the cruising train and is operated by specialized car. This is one of the best local train in Japan. There is a crew attendant on the train. She shows you the scenery of Hisatsu line (肥薩線). Of course you don’t have any restriction to take this train by Japan Rail Pass.

I will show you many images of this train and tell you the details. Continue reading

Very popular cruising train to Kirishima and Yoshimatsu from Kagoshima. Limited Express Hayato no Kaze

Hayato no Kaze is operated by restored KIHA 147 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Hayato no Kaze is operated by restored KIHA 147 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

Hayato no Kaze (はやとの風) is a limited express train that is operated between Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央) with Yoshimatsu (吉松). You can take this train by Japan Rail Pass with no extra charge. This train is not an intercity express train. This train is slow and is operated for sightseeing along Hisatsu line (肥薩線). This train is operated by specialized KIHA 147 series. This train has the true Japanese atmosphere. The crew attendants are on board. They guides you about the scenery of Hisatsu line. This train stop at Kirishima-Onsen station. So you can take this train when you go to Kirishima mountains.

I will show you many images of this train and tell you the details. Continue reading

Intercity train between Kagoshima and Miyazaki. Limited Express Kirishima

Some of Nichirin and Hyuga are operated by 783 series.
783 series is used for some of Kirishima train set.

Kirishima (きりしま) connects Miyazaki (宮崎) with Kagoshima-Chuo (鹿児島中央). This train is an intercity train and stop at lots of regional cities in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. If you travel along the southeast coast of Kyushu, you may need to take this train. Especially when you go to Kirishima mountains, you can take this train to Kirishima-Jingu (霧島神宮). And then transfer to the local bus.

Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading

Intercity train between Oita/Beppu and Miyazaki. Limited Express Nichirin / Hyuga

JR Kyushu's best train 787 series was started to use for Nichirin on Mar 12, 2011.
JR Kyushu’s best train 787 series was started to use for Nichirin on Mar 12, 2011.

Nichirin (にちりん) connects Beppu (別府) and Oita (大分) with Miyazaki (宮崎) and Miyazaki airport (宮崎空港). A few of Nichirin are extended to operate to Nakatsu (中津) and even Hakata (博多). Hyuga (ひゅうが) is an intercity train in Miyazaki prefecture. This train is operated on same route as Nichirin. But it is operated between Nobeoka (延岡) and Miyazaki airport. If you travel along the east coast of Kyushu, you may need to take these trains.

Both Nichirin and Hyuga can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. Let’s see about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading

Access to Mt. Aso, Beppu and Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto and Oita. Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu) / Kumagawa

Limited Express Trans Kyushu Limited Express and Kumagawa are operated by KIHA 185 series.
Limited Express Trans Kyushu Limited Express and Kumagawa are operated by KIHA 185 series.

Trans-Kyushu Limited Express (Kyushu Odan Tokkyu=九州横断特急) connects the most famous hot springs resort, Beppu (別府)/Oita (大分) with Hitoyoshi (人吉) via Kumamoto (熊本). The biggest volcano, Mt. Aso is located between Oita and Kumamoto. This is the train that you need to take to Mt. Aso. Kumagawa (くまがわ) is operated between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi on same route as Trans-Kyushu Limited Express.

Both Trans-Kyushu Limited Express and Kumagawa can be used by Japan Rail Pass with no restriction. So let’s learn about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading

Very popular train to Yufuin from Hakata and Oita. Limited Express Yufuin no Mori / Yufu

The newer fleet KIHA 72 series is used for two round trips of Yufuin no Mori. As of July, 2015, one more car was added to this train set. Not it is five cars formation.
The newer fleet KIHA 72 series is used for two round trips of Yufuin no Mori. As of July, 2015, one more car was added to this train set. Not it is five cars formation.

Important notice

Heavy rain storm hit Kyushu in early July. Kyudai line near Yufuin was damaged very seriously and this segment is closed now. Yufuin no Mori and Yufu will run but it runs on the different route by the different timetable.

Yufuin no Mori timetable until August 31

Station/train# Hakata Kokura Beppu Oita Yufuin
#91 08:45 10:30 12:19 12:45 13:35
#93 11:00 12:17 14:39 14:55 15:45
Station/train# Yufuin Oita Beppu Kokura Hakata
#92 14:45 15:35 16:39 18:52 20:34
#94 17:06 18:18 18:29 20:30 21:35

Yufu timetable until August 31

Station/train# Beppu Oita Yufuin Hita
#82 08:26 09:07 09:58
#84 17:42 17:54 18:45 19:35
Station/train# Hita Yufuin Oita Beppu
#81 09:08 10:03 10:52 11:02
#83 10:41 12:14 13:14 13:25

Timetable is not available for after September 1 at this point.

———

These trains connect Hakata (博多) with Yufuin (由布院) and Oita (大分) or Beppu (別府). Yufuin is one of the most popular hot springs resort in Kyushu. This is the train that you need to take when you go to Yufuin. Of course these train’s name are named from Yufuin. “Yufuin no Mori” means Yufuin’s forest. These two trains are operated on same route and can be used by Japan Rail Pass. But Yufuin no Mori is operated by the specialized car, KIHA71 or 72 series. This express train is one of the best in JR Kyushu train. So I strongly recommend to take Yufuin no Mori, not Yufu.

So let’s learn about route, schedule and accommodations of these trains. Continue reading

West Japan (Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kyushu) 7 days sample itinerary by Japan Rail Pass 7 days

Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO
Kyoto Imperial Palace ©Akira Okada/©JNTO

This itinerary includes Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima and North part of Kyushu (Hakata, Nagasaki, Aso and Beppu). This starts from Tokyo and your Japan Rail pass will be started to use from Tokyo station. You may start this itinerary from Shinagawa station, if you arrive at Haneda airport early morning. And of course, you can start this itinerary from Osaka or Kansai airport too. Osaka and Kansai airport are much closer to Kyoto than Tokyo. If you start this itinerary from Osaka, the itinerary is more smooth and easier. Continue reading

Access to Oita and Beppu from Fukuoka (Hakata). Limited Express Sonic

Limited Express Sonic (883 series)
Limited Express Sonic (883 series)

This limited express train is one of most popular limited express train that is serviced by JR Kyushu. This connects Hakata and Kokura with Oita and Saeki. If you go to the popular hot springs resort, Beppu, this train is that you need to take after you get off Shinkansen at Kokura or Hakata. Of course this train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.

This train is operated by JR Kyushu’s newest fleet 885 and 883 series. I would like to share the information about the accommodations. Let’s see the details about this train.

Route, schedule and trip time

This express train connect Hakata with Oita in 2 hours and 30 minutes, and connect Kokura with Oita in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Sonic services run every 20 to 40 minutes for daytime. 32 round trips a day are operated.

You can check the timetable at JR Kyushu website (English).


View Sonic in a larger map

Stations

Hakata (博多) x
Yoshizuka (吉塚) *
Kashii (香椎) *
Fukuma (福間) *
Togo (東郷) *
Akama (赤間) *
Orio (折尾) x
Kurosaki (黒崎) x
Yahata (八幡) x
Tobata (戸畑) *
Kokura (小倉) x
Shimosone (下曽根) *
Yukuhashi (行橋) x
Unoshima (宇島) *
Nakatsu (中津) x
Yanagigaura (柳ヶ浦) *
Usa (宇佐) *
Kitsuki (杵築) *
Kamegawa (亀川) *
Beppu (別府) x
Oita (大分) x
Tsurusaki (鶴崎) x
Ozai (大在) x
Kosaki (幸崎) x
Usuki (臼杵) x
Tsukumi (津久見) x
Saiki (佐伯) x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Accommodation

Kamome is operated three types of trains, 885 series and 883 series. 885 is the newest and fastest. But 883 series has better interior and seat. So if you have a time when you book a reserved seat, check which train will be used for your train. Try to avoid 885 series.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

885 series

Limited Express Sonic (885 series)
Limited Express Sonic (885 series)

Sonic serviced by this series is called “White Sonic” (=白いソニック=Shiroi Sonic). 885 series equip the leather seat for both Green and Ordinary. It looks good and have very sophisticated atmosphere, but this seat is very slippery and has very strong leather smell.

The seat configuration on Green class 1+1+1 and the seat pitch is 1150mm. The seat pitch on Ordinary class is 980mm. Every single ordinary class seats on car #2 have the power outlet. If you want to charge your batteries or use your laptop, try to get the seat on car #2. Car #3 is called “Ochitsuki Kukan” (=落ち着き空間=Calm and quiet space). This car has dark painted wall and less lighting. And you will see lots of Japanese modern art in this car. You can enjoy this car as Art Gallery.

Train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6
G R R R NR NR NR

Images
Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat Sonic 885 series Green seat

Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat Sonic 885 series Ordinary seat

Sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space Sonic 885 series sanitary space

Common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space Sonic 885 series common space

883 series

This train is called “Wonderland Express”. When this train was introduced, the eccentric design was in the news. But now this train was renovated. This eccentric design had gone. But you will still see some originative items in the car. Green class has a lounge space just behind cockpit. You will get the power outlet at window seat on car#1, both Green and Ordinary. If you want to charge your batteries or using the laptop, try to get a window seat on car#1.

Train formations

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
G R R R NR NR NR NR

*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat NR=Non reserved seat
Smoking is not allowed on this train.

Images
Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat Sonic 883 series Green seat

Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat Sonic 883 series Ordinary seat

Sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space Sonic 883 series sanitary space

Common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space Sonic 883 series common space