Trip from Kumamoto to Kagoshima by Isaburo and Hayato no Kaze on Hisatsu line one day trip on March 16, 2012

2012 spring trip to Kyushu
Isaburo and local train at Yoshimatsu station
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.

The limited express Kumagawa from Kumamoto to Hitosyoshi

Kumamoto can be accessed by Kyushu Shinkansen very easily. Actually you can complete this travel in one day from Osaka.

Two train sets of KIHA 183 at Kumamoto station. Limited Express Trans Kyushu Limited Express (Left) and Limited Express Kumagawa (right) (C) JP Rail

By the way, I took Kumagawa 3 at 11:44 am from Kumamoto. Kumagawa is operated by KIHA 183 series. This is very common diesel train set in Kyushu. Limited Express Kumagawa was only two cars set.

The limited express Kumagawa was replaced by the limited express Kawasemi Yamasemi. Please see the post below to find the information about Kawasemi Yamasemi:

When I got on Kumagawa, I was so excited. Because I started my trip for Hisatsu line. (C) JP Rail
The seat was very common. It is 2+2 seat configuration. (C) JP Rail

This train went on Kagoshima line until Yatsushiro. The scenery was nothing special. After stopping at Yatsushiro, the train went into Hisatsu line. The first part of Hisatsu line between Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi is called “river line”. Because this line goes along Kuma river (球磨川). I have a seat at the left side (seat 7A). Kuma river was on the right side. But I knew it would be left side later. After half way to Hitoyoshi, I saw Kuma river at my side. You can enjoy Kuma river at either side. But I recommend you the left side (seat A/B).

The weather was not perfect. But I enjoyed the scenery of Kuma river. (C) JP Rail
The commemorative stamp was provided by the attendant on board. (C) JP Rail
Eki-Ben (boxed meal that is sold at the station) is very popular in Japan. But regular Bento is much cheaper than Eki-Ben. I bought this bento at 398 yen. It was sold at the convenience store in the station. Half price and more volume. (C) JPRail

Cruising local train Isaburo from Hitoyoshi to Yoshimatsu

I transferred train at Hitoyoshi from Limited Express Kumagawa to Isaburo. Arrival time was 13:10 and departure time was 13:21. There was only 11 minutes to transfer. But it was easy transfer since Hitoyoshi station was very small.

Cruising local train Izaburo (left) and Limited Express Kumagawa (right)

Isaburo is a sort of local train. You can take this train with a basic fare only. But most of seats are reserved seat. I recommend you to reserve it. Especially Japan Rail Pass cover any reserved seat with no extra charge. The pass user should do it! Please see the details about this train at

This car was used for commuters. But it was renovated completely. This is no longer that it used to be. (C) JP Rail
The seat was boxed style for 4 passengers with the table. There was only me in this section. But I didn’t stay there most of time.
There was a public space with huge glass window at the middle of train. I spent most of my time there. (C) JP Rail

This train is a local train. So it stopped all stations. Each stations looked very old and historic. The scenery was completely different from the section between Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi. This section of Hisatsu line between Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu is called “Mountain line”. The train was climbing up the hill and I had very unique experience. The train went through two Zig zag (=switch back) and the spiral way because of very steep. The attendant guided was on board and she guided about history and scenery. I asked attendant how to look after the tourist from outside of Japan with Japanese speaking guiding. She said, ” Even though I cannot speak English very well, I try to communicate with gesturing, writing and showing some pictures. I am not 100% sure. But most of tourists seemed to enjoy.” I received some comments about language barrier from the readers. I understand you worry about this issue. But most of Japanese can understand much more than what you expect.

At Okoba station. Everybody left their own name card on the wall. (C) JP Rail
At Yatake station. This station is located at the highest elevation on Hisatsu line. (C) JP Rail
I couldn’t see anything because of rain! But it was one of most three scenery from the train in Japan. I supposed to see Kirishima mountains. (C) JP Rail
The bell of the happiness at Masaki station (C) JP Rail

It was raining. But I really enjoyed this 1.5 hour train trip.

The limited express Hayato no Kaze from Hitoyoshi to Kagoshima-Chuo

After I arrived at Yoshimatsu at 14:47, I changed the train to Kagoshima-Chuo. The next train was a black cool train, Hayato no Kaze. I had 15 minutes to transfer. But Yoshimatsu station was very tiny. I could change the train at the same platform. Please see the post below to see more about this train, Hayato no Kaze:

Isaburo (left) and common local train (right) at Yoshimatsu station. Hayato no Kaze would be other side of same platform as Isaburo. (C) JP Rail
This train was commute car sets too. It didn’t look like any more. (C) JP Rail
Lots of wood materials are used in the train. (C) JP Rail
The seat looked good but not comfortable so much. But it was okay because of only 1.5 hour trip. (C) JP Rail
Hayato no Kaze have a public space too. (C) JP Rail

Hayato no Kaze is a limited express train. But it is not a fast train. It stopped at both Osumiyokogawa and Kareigawa station for about 5 minutes for viewing the station. Because these stations are heritage buildings and are more than 100 years old.

Hayato no Kaze stopped at Osumi-Yokgawa for 5 minutes. (C) JP Rail
I saw some cherry blossom at Kareigawa station. (C) JP Rail
If the weather was good, I supposed to see Mt. Sakurajima and a beautiful Kinko bay scenery. But it was raining very hard. (C) JP Rail

I arrived at Kagoshima-Chuo station. This was a first visit for last 20 years! The station was completely different. Now Kagoshima-Chuo is Shinkansen station. There were lots of shops in the station.

Kagoshima-Chuo is the biggest station in south Kyushu. (C) JP Rail
You can move to Kumamoto and Hakata easily from Kagoshima-Chuo. If you want, you can go back to even Osaka after this rail trip. (C) JP Rail

I spent 5.5 hours to complete this train trip. If you take Shinkansen from Kumamoto to Kagoshima-Chuo, it takes 1 hour. Shinkansen is fast and convenient. But there are too many tunnels because Shinkansen takes the shortest route. That means not much scenery. If you are looking for something different, try to take this route.


  1. KZhu says:

    Hi Takeshi-San

    I would like to find out if it is possible reserve KAWASAKI YAMASEMI online via the JR website. I have checked the website and it doesn’t seem possible (it doesn’t appear as one of the train options permitting online seat reservations) and I am just worried that I may not be able to secure a seat on the train.

    Would an alternative be to reserve a seat the moment I reach Japan (I won’t be scheduled to take the KAWASAKI YAMASEMI until my 5th day in Japan) at any JR station?

    Open to any suggestions! Thank you very much!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi KZhu san,

      Unfortunately there is no ways to book Kawasemi Yamasemi online. You must book a seat after arrival in Japan. You can book any reservation windows in most of JR stations throughout Japan. In major cities, such as Tokyo and surrounding area, Nagoya, Osaka and all Kansai region, Hakata and surrounding area, most JR stations have reservation window which is called “Midori no Madoguchi”.


      Takeshi /

  2. Russell says:


    I intend to take the Kawasemi Yamasemi no. 3, Isaburo no. 3 and Hayato no kaze no. 3 on 17/12/17. It should be OK to book seats about 15 days earlier right? Also, which side of train do you recommend for best scenery? Thanks!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Russell,

      I think it will be okay.
      All trains have public space so it doesn’t matter which side you have a seat. You can move around.


      Takeshi /

      • Russell says:

        Hi Takeshi-san,

        I just concluded my train trip on Kawasemi yamasemi, isaburo and Hayato no Kaze. It was very enjoyable! Thank you 🙂

        I was just curious, if the view from Isaburo is one of the three great views, what are the other two?


        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi Russell san,

          The other two are Obasute and Karikachi pass.

          Obasute is located near Nagano and Karikachi pass is near Shintoku, Hokkaido. But Karikachi pass was changed the route many year ago and we cannot see this view any more.


          Takeshi /

  3. Kamal says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,
    it’s suitable and recommend travel from Kagoshima to Kumamoto via Hayato no Kaze and Isaburo / Shinpei with luggage and backpack


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Kamal san,

      It’s totally up to you.
      There is no luggage space. You have to keep your luggage at your seat. If you are okay with it, this train trip is recommended. Now there is another beautiful train running between Hitoyoshi and Kumamoto which is Kawasemi Yamasemi.


      Takeshi /

      • Kamal says:

        Hi Takeshi san,

        Thanks for your advice, i just read about new train at Kyushu as per link you told. But how can i catch up all this train from Hakata to Kagoshiama via Kawasemi Ya-masemi , SL Hitoyoshi, Isaburo and Hayato no kaze. If any advice from you let me know.

  4. Tanima says:

    Is there any hiking place hear Hitoyoshi? I am new at kumamoto city and looking for hiking places that I can access through out the weekend from Kumamoto station. Your reply can be a great help. Thanks in advance.

  5. Kamal says:

    Hi Takeshi-San

    If we just came from Beppu down to Aso and need go to Kumamoto. But from Aso there is no train go to Kumamoto as per you mentions before. Then we need to take a bus go to Kumamoto. From Aso, a bus schedule is early as 1133hrs and arrive at Kumamoto 1325hrs.

    From Kumamoto there is have a train go to Yoshimatsu Station via Isaburo / Shinpei (JR Rail Pass). But this train depart from Kumamoto as early 0831hrs, as per i mentions before we arrive from Aso to Kumamoto is at 1325hrs. then i can catch that train go to Yoshimatsu.

    Is there have another train go to Yoshimatsu Station and down to Kagoshima-chuo Station. As per my research from Google maps, as per link below. Is it, there is same train go to Kagoshima-Choa Station from Yoshimatsu Station.

    From Kumamoto Station to Yoshimatsu Station.,+3+Chome-15+Kasuga,+Nishi-ku,+Kumamoto-shi,+Kumamoto-ken+860-0047,+Japan/”/@32.1928107,129.9857013,251733m/am=t/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x3540f458c0ff254d:0x832e72f69e10dcdf!2m2!1d130.6892366!2d32.7902059!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x9c406c691e666df2!2m2!1d130.738309!2d32.011865!3e3!5i3

    From Yoshimatsu Station to Kagoshima-Choa Station,+Kawanishi,+Y%C5%ABsui-ch%C5%8D,+Aira-gun,+Kagoshima-ken+899-6104/Kagoshimachuo+Station,+Kagoshima+Prefecture/@31.7816891,130.6547956,55171m/am=t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m18!4m17!1m5!1m1!1s0x353f0f1f07b323ef:0x9c406c691e666df2!2m2!1d130.738309!2d32.011865!1m5!1m1!1s0x353e6745b0189d3b:0x9f6c9b15d696dd2f!2m2!1d130.541245!2d31.583785!2m2!6e4!8j1482287101!3e3!5i13?hl=en

    Time to depart at all train is continuous from early schedule.

    need your advice


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Kamel san,

      If you don’t care about Aso, you have another route:
      Beppu (Local train) Oita
      Oita 08:19 (Yufu 2) 10:47 Kurume
      Kurume 11:00 (Sakura 547) 11:20 Kumamoto
      Kumamoto 11:48 (rapid) 13:18 Hitoyoshi
      Hitoyoshi 13:22 (Isaburo 3) 14:48 Yoshimatsu
      Yoshimatsu 15:01 (Hayato no Kaze 3) 16:44 Kagoshima-chuo

      You can find these train schedule other than rapid (Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi) on JR Kyushu timetable:

      If you want to enjoy the view of Hisatsu line, you should take this schedule. It’s too late to catch the trains if you take a bus from Aso to Kumamoto.


      Takeshi /

      • Kamal says:

        what is the different Yufu vs Yufuin no Mori

      • Kamal says:


        Refer to your schedule i can meet time what you given.
        This is my schedule

        Hakata (0622) —- Beppu (0833) – Sonic 1, By JR Rail Pass
        Beppu (go some attractions area at there)
        Beppu (1313) —- Kurume (1604) – Yufu 4
        Kurume (1635) —- Kumamoto (1656) – Sakura 415
        Kumamoto (1710) —- Hitoyoshi (1913) – Via Google maps
        Hitoyoshi (1918) —- Yoshimatsu (2017) – Via Google maps
        Yohimatsu (2123) —- Kagoshima-Chou (2207) – Google maps
        Kagoshima-Chou (1 night here)
        Kagoshima-Chou (0757) —- Shin-Yamaguchi (1057) –
        Sakura 544
        Shin-Yamaguchi (1057) —- Shin-Iwakuni (1128) – kodama738

        if any advice from you let me know.


        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi Kamal san,

          This schedule is actually not recommended. If you take Hisatsu line route via Hitoyoshi and Yoshimatsu until dusk, it’s recommended because it’s very scenic. But you will go through this route after dusk. You cannot enjoy any scenery. It’s just slow route.

          If you want to spend the time in Beppu, sorry but give up this route and go straight to Kagoshima Chuo by Shinkansen.


          Takeshi /

          • Kamal says:

            Hi Takeshi-san,

            Thanks for your advice. I appreciate it. now got an idea how to catch up train schedule as per your schedule . This is what i plan.

            Hakata 0932 —- Kumamoto 1011 (Sakura 543)
            Kumamoto 1148 —- Hitoyoshi 1318 (Rapid Line 6)
            Hitoyoshi 1322 —- Yoshimatsu 1448 (Isaburo 3)
            Yoshimatsu 1501 —- Kagoshima-chou 1644 (Kaze3)
            Kagoshima-chou ???? —- Hakata ???? (Sakura/Tsubame)

            When i arrive at Kagoshima, i have time to spend at there before i go back to Hakata and i can catch last train. what are you recommended that can i do at Kagoshima such as sightseeing tour by bus or ferry.
            After that, tomorrow i can go at Beppu and spend a lot of time there with JR Sonic.

            Q :- All train listed, it is cvr all by JR Rail Pass?


  6. Nick says:

    My advice: If you’re hesitant about taking this series of slow trains, maybe you should trust your gut. I didn’t find the route particularly stunning. (I once spent three days traveling down the Japan Sea side of Japan by “kabuki teisha” (train stopping at every station) from Osaka-Shimonsoseki, watching the sea most of the time. That was stunning, this was not). The down side was that I arrived in Kagoshima fairly tired from the train journey and with not enough time to do Kagoshima as I should have. If you do take the train, however, when it stops for lunch at Hitoyoshi, head straight from the station about three blocks until you find a restaurant (one of the few open in this part of town) on a corner. For Yen 700 I had one of my best lunches in Japan here. I do, however, have modest tastes.

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