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.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

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 14,000 yen 7,000 yen
5 days 17,000 yen 9,000 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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi –
    Really confused and badly need your help. We are staying for 21 days and exploring the following:
    6 days Kansai area, Osaka based (I plan to buy icoca + Hakata)
    7 days Northern Kyushu
    5 days Nagano, Gifu, Nagoya
    3 days Back to Osaka-Kansai area

    I’m planning to buy icoca/Hakata to use during my first 6 days in Kansai Area. Then buy a 14 days JR pass to bring me to the rest of the places. Is this the most economical way to use Train passes? Mao

  2. Hi Takeshi-San,

    got a question again.

    I’m planning to use JR Kyushu Northern Area Pass on my upcoming trip in December.

    Am I understand correctly that the Kyushu Northern area pass cover as far south as Kumamoto?

    what if I would like to travel beyond Kumamoto on the Kyushu Shinkansen line?

    for example, if I want to take a trip from Hakata to Kumamoto in the morning, then to Minamata in the afternoon. then in the evening travel from Minamata straight back to Hakata.

    My understanding is that the Hakata – Kumamoto would be just normal use of the pass, then from Kumamoto to Minamata I should buy a single ticket.

    Then want about the trip from Minamata to Hakata? Can I reserve seat on Kyushu Shinkansen all the way from Minamata, paying the difference for the Minamata – Kumamoto section?

    1. Hi Wobb san,

      On the way back to Hakata, you can purchase single ticket and Shinkansen surcharge ticket for Minamata-Kumamoto.
      I am not 100% sure, but you may get same seat on same train to Hakata. When you purchase Northern Kyushu Pass, I recommend you to purchase this ticket too. I think this is the easiest way and station staff can understand the situation easily.


      Taekshi / JP Rail

  3. Dear Takeshi san
    Thank you for your earlier reply. I have plans to go to either Yufuin or Beppu on a day trip from Fukuoka. I note your advice that the JR Kyushu pass cannot be used on the Sanyo Shinkansen. However, what about say the Nozomi Shinjansen to Kokura? Is that covered by the pass?
    Of course, based on my check on hyperdia I think the fastest way to get there is to take a Limited Express train instead of shinkansen to Kokura and changing trains at the station.
    I am also wondering if Yufuin or Beppu is a better destination for family, if we just want to sight see.
    Thank you for maintaining this website, it is a wonderful resource!

    1. Hi Lukas,

      Kyushu Pass does not cover any Shinkansen trains to Kokura. Sanyo Shinkansen is line’s name. Nozomi is train’s name on Sanyo/Tokaido Shinkansen. So you can’t take any Shinkansen trains between Hakata and Kokura by Kyushuu Rail Pass.

      I think Beppy is more family friendly. Yufuin is very nice. But it’s a bit more adult oriented. Beppy is more commercial and bigger, but it’s more kids friendly.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Dear Takeshi-san
    I will be visiting Kyushu at the end of this month & intend to purchase a 5-day northern Kyushu pass. Will be able to use it to take the Kyushu shinkansen to Kumamoto, and return subseuqently?
    Thank you.

  5. Takeshi,

    Thanks for your prompt reply. I understand the basics of making reservations. But I also think that there is a small loop hole in the system.

    You can buy just the reserved seat portion of a trip. You can also get a (partial) refund on this portion of the ticket. Since the cost of the seat reservation is refundable and since JR Pass holders do not have to pay for the seat reservation fee it seems like one would be able to make reservations, present the JR Pass, and then get a partial refund.

    Could I buy the seat reservations, cancel the reservations, then re-reserve the seats using the pass? Surely I can’t be the only person in Japan willing to make reservations on behalf of a pass holder. Has anyone done this before?

    1. Hi Audrey,

      Technically you can do it. But you have to pay cancellation charge.
      before 2 days 320 yen
      after 2 days 30%

      I understand Japan Rail Pass includes it. But basically when you or your friend purchase a ticket, you have to have a pass or exchange order. And also once you cancel your ticket, someone will take it. In the system, your ticket will be put on the system anyway. And then you have to book again. It will be meaningless.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Is the JR Kyushu pass like the JR pass? Do you have to buy a voucher in a foreign country, then exchange the voucher for a ticket in Japan?

    If that is the case, is it possible for a person in Japan to make reservations for someone that purchased a JR Kyushu pass voucher? My parents will be visiting around Golden Week and I want to reserve our seats a full month in advance. However, will I be able to do this for my parents before they exchange the voucher for the actual ticket?

    Will I have to pay for my parents’ reservation fee in order to make advance reservations? If so, can this fee be refunded once they arrive and can show their JR Kyushu passes?

    Lastly, they will arrive at Fukuoka airport at 9 pm. Will any of the exchange sites for the voucher be open that late? We do not live near Fukuoka so exchanging the vouchers that night is likely our only option.

    1. Hi Audrey,

      You can purchase online or on the spot.

      About reservation, it is same rule as JR pass. Please see the below:

      As you see, only JR East Eki net is available to book it without pass. But you need to understand Japanese and pick it up in only JR East area, like Narita, Tokyo.

      At Hakata station, you can exchange it between 5:30 am and 23:00.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to ask, does this Kyushu Pass include charges like unreserved seats? Because I was checking the fare for train in hyperdia, and I saw that there are charges even for unreserved seats. Does this mean that even if I bought this Kyushu Pass, but I still need to pay for seats charges?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessie,

      You can take reserved seat too. It covers all Kyushu trains except Sanyo Shinkansen (Hakata-Kokura). You don’t need to pay any extra with the pass to take even reserved seat. :)


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Dear Takeshi,

    I am going to Fukoka / Hakata for 5 days in mid-January and would like to purchase a 3-day Northern Kyushu JR Pass.

    Can I purchase the pass after I arrive in Japan or do I have to purchase it in my home country before leaving for Japan?

    I know that the regular JR Pass must be purchaed outside Japan, but this JR Kyushu website seems to imply I can purchase it in Japan.

    Many thanks for your help.

  9. Hi, Takeshi!

    I’m interested in buying Northern Kyushu Rail Pass. But I want to ask about your statement that “The fastest train on Kyushu Shikansen, ‘Mizuho’ is covered by Kyushu Rail Pass.” Can I take Mizuho to travel between Hakata and Shin-Osaka? I get confused because the designated area in Kyushu Rail Pass clearly shows the Kyushu area only, but they let you ride on Mizuho.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi ivy,

      No, you can’t. You can take Mizuho only between Hakata and Kumamoto (Northern area) or Kagoshima-Chuo (All area). I mean if you use Japan Rail Pass, Mizuho is not covered at all.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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