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.

Covered area by Kyushu Rail Pass

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

Kyushu Rail Pass All area type covers all JR lines in Kyushu island except Sanyo Shinkansen between Kokura and Hakata/Hakata-Minami. This line exists in Kyushu island. But this is operated by JR West. Kyushu Rail Pass is offered by different company, JR Kyushu. That is reason why Sanyo Shinkansen is not covered by this pass.

Kyushu Rail Pass Northern area type covers Houhi line between Kumamoto and Oita and to the north of this line. So you cannot go to the south of Kumamoto, to the south of Oita, and anywhere in Miyazaki and Kagoshima by this pass. On the other hand, you don’t have any problem with going to Nagasaki, Aso, Yufuin, Beppu, Kumamoto, Oita, Sasebo, Huis Ten Bosch and off course, Hakata.

Once you step out to the east from Moji that is the border station, that means you step out form covered area, Kyushu. You need to pay extra.

Valid trains and bus lines

The rule of Kyushu Rail Pass is very similar to Japan Rail Pass. But there are some difference.

  • Kyushu Rail Pass does not cover any JR bus lines. JR Pass covers some lines.
  • The fastest train on Kyushu Shikansen, “Mizuho” is covered by Kyushu Rail Pass. JR Pass does not.
  • No Green Pass, only Ordinary type is available. JR Pass have Green type and Ordinary type.

First of all, there are not many bus lines available in Kyushu area. So I don’t think this is a disadvantage.

Next, regarding Green car, if you want to use Green car, you need to pay not only Green car supplement but also Limited Express surcharge. Limited Express surcharge is included in the pass. So you need to pay a big extra when you take Green. Green car accommodation on some of Kyushu trains have very good reputation. I really wish JR Kyushu sells Green type pass too.

This pass do not cover any overnight trains either. But there is no available overnight trains both in Kyushu and Tokyo/Osaka connected trains. So it does not mean anything.

Types and prices

Kyushu Rail Pass have two types, All area pass and Northern area pass. Each types have 3 days and 5 days. I would like to compare these prices and single fare.

Types All area Northern area
3 days 15,000 yen 8,500 yen
5 days 18,000 yen 10,000 yen

The passes must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night. Child (6-11 years) is half price. Under 6 years is free.

ex) If you start to use 3 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 3.

Before I compare the prices, I would like to show you some regular fare standards (Limited Express reserved seat surcharge and basic fare):

If you have round trip to Kagoshima-Chuo from Hakata, it is already more expensive than All Area 5 days pass. How about Northern Area Pass? Even Hakata to Kumamoto round trip fare is more expensive than 5 days pass. This pass can be used for a small trip too. If you have a trip to Nagasaki for 2 nights from Hakata, you can use Northern Area 3 days pass. It is way cheaper than single fare.

These passes give you such a great deal!

Compare Kyushu Rail Pass and Japan Rail Pass

Kyushu Rail Pass is a perfect choice for the tourist who travel in Kyushu island only and fly in and out Kyushu, such as Fukuoka. But if you go other areas, like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, you should make sure a total cost. Japan Rail Pass may be cheaper. I show you some samples.

Extra fare for round trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima on Kyushu Rail Pass

Hiroshima is the closest city in well known sightseeing spots in Japan. It is one hour away from Hakata by Shinkansen. Hiroshima cannot be accessed by Kyushu Rail Pass. If you go to Hiroshima by Shinkansen, round trip fare is 8,700 x 2 = 17,400 yen.

You may add Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. That is much cheaper choice.

In case of staying in Tokyo or Osaka and fly to Kyushu

Mostly combination of Kyushu Rail Pass and extra cost for airport access is cheaper than Japan Rail Pass minimum price, 28,400 yen. First of all, Let’s check the fare for airport access in Tokyo and Osaka.

If you arrive at Haneda and depart from Haneda for Kyushu, you don’t spend much for access. But you need to spend at least 1,000 yen. And also you need to think about the fare for sightseeing. If you purchase Suica and Monorail, it includes round trip by Monorail and 1,500 yen e-money preloaded. You can use local JR line to explore in Tokyo. Even if you will spend some more, this deals and Kyushu Pass combination is much cheaper than Japan Rail Pass.

If you arrive at Narita and depart from Narita, you may spend about 5,000 to 6,000 yen. But there is N’EX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket at 4000 yen. It is much cheaper than regular fare. The highest price of Kyushu Rail Pass is 17,000 yen. If you add Narira access extra cost on Kyushu Rail Pass 17,000 yen, it is still cheaper than Japan Rail Pass 7 days 28,400 yen.

If you arrive at Kansai and depart from Kansai, ICOCA and Haruka is available. It includes round trip by Haruka and 1,500 yen preloaded e-money in ICOCA. It is same story as Narita. This extra and Kyushu pass combination is cheaper than JR Pass.

Unless you use trains many many times in Tokyo or Osaka, Japan Rail Pass in not your choice. Of course if you arrive Narita or Haneda and then go to Kyushu by train, Japan Rail Pass is your choice.

58 thoughts on “Kyushu Rail Pass. The best deal for rail trip in Kyushu for oversea visitors.”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I tried to post this in the forum, but can’t find the post, not sure if it was sucessful, so decide to repost in this forum which is more appropriate.

    I will be in Kyushu for full 16 day. I would like to seek your advice if below itinerary is the most efficient use of time and JR pass. Could you also advise the best combination use of North and South Kyushu pass and SUNQ pass.

    I have read through all you postings under Kyushu. It really helps me in planning as I will be following quite closely.

    Reach Fukuoka at 8am- Nagasaki (1 night)
    Nagasaki- Mount Unzen- Nagasaki (1 night)
    Nagasaki- Shimabara, take the Ferry to Kumamoto-Yufuin- Mount Yufu/ explore town and onsen (1 night)
    Yufuin- Kuju Mountain- Yufuin (1 night)
    Yufuin- Beppu/ Oita (1 night)
    (Which stretch should I take Yufuin no Mori?)
    Beppu/ Oita-Aoshima- Sun Messe-Michi no eki phoenix-Udo Jingu- Obi- Aoshima (1 night)
    Miyazaki- Nobeoka (Takachicho Gorge)- Miyazaki- Aoshima (1 night)
    Aoshima- Kagoshima- Shiroyama Observatory/ Sakurajima/ Dolphin Port/ Tenmonkan (1 night)
    Kagoshima- Yakushima Island (2 nights)
    Kagoshima- Kaimondake hike- Ibusuki- Kagoshima (1 night)
    (Possible to take Ibusuki no Tamatebako?)
    Kagoshima- Kirishima- Kagoshima (1 night)
    Kagoshima- Yoshimatsu (Hayato no Kaze )- Hitoyoshi (Isaburo/ Shinpei )- Kumamoto (Kawasemi Yamasemi)- Fukuoka (Shinkansen)
    Is this doable within one day?
    Day trip to Kitakyushu
    Day trip to Dazaifu and Yanagawa (optional)

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Yap Yen,

      It’s covered by this pass. But you cannot reach to Mt. Aso because this segment has been closed since earthquake hit Kumamoto in last year.
      Currently the segment between Higo-Otsu (outside Kumamoto) and Aso is closed. The damage is huge. At this point, JR Kyushu has not announced how long it will recover this segment. I don’t think it will open in this year.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        For the Higo-Otsu to Aso rail segment, since it is currently closed, are there any bus replacement for the Higo-Otsu to Aso segment? If yes, can we use the Northern Kyushu Rail Pass for the bus ride between Higo-Otsu and Aso?

        Please advise, thanks.


        1. Hi LCL,

          As far as I know, even bus service is suspended because the primary bridge was destroyed and not recovered yet. If you use Kyushu rail pass to get Aso, you need to get from Beppu/Oita.


          Takeshi / JPRail

  2. Hi, I’m traveling to Osaka this coming march. But I will make a short trip to Hakata. From Osaka – Himeji – Hiroshima – Hakata. May I know is the Sanyo San’in Pass enough to cover all these place? If I would like to extend my trip to Kumamoto Castle, which pass should I choose?

  3. HI Takeshi,
    My itinerary in April:
    13/4 – arrive Fukuoka
    14/4 to 15/4 – travel Yufuin No Morin to Yufuin Onsen
    15/4 – travel Yufuin via Oita/Beppu via Kokura to Hakata
    16/4 & 17/4 – Self drive around Fukuoka & Saga

    I would like your suggestion with regards to 15/4 whether we should stop over at Oita/Beppu/Kokura before continuing journey back to Hakata. What interesting places that are within walking distance and what kind of foods would your recommend.
    As for self drive itinerary, I have in mind to go Karatsu to try squid sashimi, saga beef In Fukuoka probably Yanagibashi market, strawberry picking & some shopping.
    One more question, is it easy to find parking when driving?
    Whatever comment would be greatly appreciated.
    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Doris,

      Beppu is most recommended between Yufuin and Hakata. It’s one of the most famous Onsen towns in Japan.

      Actually I have never dropped by Kokura and Oita. My experience is not enough to talk about these cities.

      I have never driven car in Japan for the last 15 years because I don’t live in Japan now. If you drive outside cities, parking is not an issue but I think it’s sometimes hard to find it in the city, like Hakata.


      Takeshi /

  4. Dear Takeshi,

    We are planning to have 5 days in Kyushu and below is our itinerary. Please advise us if this is possible and which rail pass we should buy to save the cost. Thank you so much for your help!

    28/4 Manila – Fukuoka: arrive at 8.30 , check in then dinner at Food Stalls ( Yatai),
    29/4 Wisteria Tunnel => Kokura STation => Beppu via Sonic ( is there any way cheaper? by bus ?)
    Arrive at about 4 PM, stroll around Beppu. ( what is your suggestion from 4PM to 10PM? )

    30/4: 8 Hells of Beppu => Beppu Station => Beppu Ropeway ( Mount Tsurumi ) to have the night view then go to Yufuin ( is there any way to go directly from Beppy Ropeway to Yufuin?)

    1/5: Yufuin – Kumamoto => Kumamoto Castle Honmaru Palace , Aso Geopark, Hosokawa Residences.

    2/5: Kumamoto – Nishitestu Yanagawa station . Here I will buy 1 day pass Fukuoka => Cultural Center =>Tosu Premium Outlet=>Dazaifu Station => Fukuoka, check in

    3/5 Nokonoshima Island => Kushida Shrine=>Tochoji Temple >Fukuoka Castle Remains >
    3/5 6 PM check in to come back Manila

    Thank you so much for your guide and help! Deeply appreciate and look forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi Cristina,

      Northern Kyushu Rail Pass 5 days is recommended. It’s cheaper than single fare.
      As far as I know, there is no way to get Yufuin from Beppu ropeway. You need to go back to Beppu staiton to take train.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thanks for your reply. Just one more question. Can Northern KYushu Rail Pass be used for the local train within/ inside each city of Northern Kyushu, or it is only applicable for the railway connecting the cities only?

        Thank you!

          1. Hi Takashi,

            I have some more question so I come back to ask:) Hope that you can help me.

            Im planning to buy Northern Rail Pass. How they count the time of purchase? By exact time and date, or just only date? For example, I claim my JR Kyushu pass (3days) at 8PM on April 28, is it possible to use it on May 1? If they count the exact time, I can use it. If only the date matters, I cant use it anymore.

            I also have the same question for One Day City Tram Pass in Kumamoto and Fukuoka Tourist City Pass.

            Hope to hear the more info from you soon.

            Thanks a lot!

          2. Hi Cristina,

            The pass is valid from midnight to midnight. So if you start your pass on April 28, even 8:00 pm, you will spend one of three days for just 4 hours. Your pass will be expired at 23:59 on April 30.

            Most of passes in Japan are same condition as above. City pass in Kumamoto and Fukuoka are same as above.


            Takeshi /

          3. Dear Takeshi,

            Thanks a lot for this valuable information.

            So I think we have to buy 5 days pass though it is only useful for the first 3 days.

            One more question, is Fukuoka Tourist City Pass 1340 Y covers the fee for Yoshinogari Historical Park? I saw there map but they just mention only Daizafu. Is it possible if we reach there with Nitshitetsu Bus of Tourist City Pass? If in that case, maybe we just purchase the 3 day pass.

            Thanks a lot for your help!

          4. Hi Cristina,

            Yoshinogari is not in the coverage area. It’s located in Saga prefecture. JR Kyushu train is the best way to get there. But this pass covers until you get Takeshita station on JR Kyushu line. That is just one station away from Hakata. You can get Daizaifu by Nishitetu railway but it’s different direction.

            Of course you can get there by Northern Kyushu Rail pass.


            Takeshi /

          5. Dear Takeshi,

            Thanks a lot for your answer 🙂 It will help us a lot to save the money.

            Thank agains:)

  5. Dear Takeshi-san,

    I have finalised my itinerary for my 11 day trip to Kyushu + Hiroshima. Hope you can advise me on my itinerary. Many thanks! 🙂

    Day 1 (Fukuoka / Hakata):
    – Arrive at Fukuoka Airport at 2005H. Since we arrive late, we would basically have lost one day.

    Day 2 (Hakata):
    – Canal City Hakata
    – Tenjin Chikagai / Tenjin Loft / Mitsukoshi

    Day 3 (Nagasaki):
    – Nagasaki Peace Park
    – Gunkanjima
    – Huis Ten Bosch – Kingdom of Light / Huis Ten Bosch Tulip Festival

    Day 4 (Nagasaki):
    – Kujukushima
    – Mount Inasa

    Day 5 (Kumamoto):
    – Mount Aso
    – Kusasenrigahama

    Day 6 (Oita):
    – Beppu Beach Sand Bath / Hot springs
    – Oita Fragrance Museum
    – Kuju Flower Park

    Day 7 (Kagoshima):
    – Sakurajima
    – Shiratani Unsuikyo / Yakushima / Jomonsugi / Yakusugi Land

    Day 8 (Miyazaki):
    – Takachiho Gorge
    – Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge
    – Lake Fudo
    – Aoshima Island

    Day 9 – 10 (Hiroshima):
    – Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum.
    – Miyajima (Itukushima Shrine)
    – Half day kayaking at Miyajima
    – Mount Misen / Sandankyo Gorge / Kamu no Sato Rokutan

    Day 11 – We have no plans yet but I think my itinerary may be a bit packed for the 10 days so we can stretch out our itinerary for the last day?

    Many thanks!


    1. Hi Charlene,

      I think it’s very hard to make Gukanjima, Nagasaki and Huis Ten Bosch in one day. You will spend 3-4 hours to see Gukanjima, 1-2 hours for Magasaki. And then Huis Ten Bosch is a huge theme park. Half day may not be enough.

      On day 8, I think it’s impossible, but if you intend to drive, it will be okay. Where do you start this trip and finish? All places are in Miyazaki, but those places are not closed each other. I have no idea to get Aya Teruha and Lake Fudo by public transportation.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi! Thanks for your helpful and informative blog!

    I’m visiting Kyushu this winter (January 16-25) and using the Kyushu Rail Pass for some of it. This is my itinerary:

    Sat-Sun: Fukuoka
    Mon-Wed: Nagasaki
    Thur: (JR Kyushu Pass): Nagasaki to Hakata, Hakata to Beppu (Yufuin-no-Mori)
    Fri: Beppu/ Oita
    Sat: Beppu to Hitoyoshi (Kyushu-Odan-Tokkyu 1), Hitoyoshi to Yoshimatsu (Isaburo 3), Yoshimatsu to Kagoshima (Hayato-no-Kaze 3)
    Sun: Kagoshima
    Mon: Kagoshima to Hakata (Shikansen)

    I really like scenic train rides, and unfortunately this schedule doesn’t fit specialties like Aso Boy or SL Hitoyoshi. But do you think I’m using the pass well? Are there any excellent train experiences in Kyushu that I’m missing with this plan? And one more question (sorry!): will these tickets sell out before I enter Japan to get my pass? Thanks!

    1. Hi Will,

      Yufuin no Mori is most popular train on your list. If it’s sold out, it’s not surprised.
      If you take train from Nagasaki to Hakata, you don’t need to go back to Hakata and you can transfer to Yufuin no Mori at Tosu station.

      I think other train will be okay. SL Hitoyoshi does not run in winter period so you cannot take it anyway.

      Ibusuki no Tamatebako is very nice train too. If you have any extra time when you are in Kagoshima, it’s highly recommended. It runs everyday.


      Takeshi /

      1. I was worried about Yufuin no Mori being sold out, too. Good idea to change at Tosu Station.

        I’ll give Ibusuki no Tamatebako a look, too.

        Thanks so much for your advice and quick answer!!

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