How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Kyushu. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.

Nagasaki is one of the highlight in Kyushu.
Nagasaki is one of the highlight in Kyushu.

Kyushu is located in south part of Japan. That’s why the climate is very mild and it is very popular destination in all season. Some of the travellers may arrive/depart at Fukuoka airport or other airports and travel only in Kyushu.

In this post, I would like to show you several kinds of Kyushu rail passes for both visitors and resident in Japan. It is impossible to get same deals as visitors for residents. But there are some deals for the residents too. I will tell you about the pass that anyone can purchase.

Summery of all available passes

All passes do not include the ticket to Kyushu. These cover the trains in Hokkaido only.

TypesNorthern AreaAll AreaRemarks
700090001400017000Visitor status with Foreign passport only. Child (6-11yrs) half price
700014000Foreign student status only
Actvie 65800015000Available for 65 yrs old or older (*some exception)
10500Available for anyone. Local or rapid trains only

Most of pass have two types, Northern area and All area. Basically All area cover all JR lines in Kyushu island except Sanyo Shinkansen between Kokura and Hakata/Hakata-Minami. Northern area type covers Houhi line between Kumamoto and Oita and to the north of this line. I will explain the details about each passes below.

Kyushu Rail Pass

If you are a foreign tourist and enter in Japan as “temporary visitor”, you are eligible to purchase this pass. The price range is from 3 days Northern area pass at 7,000 yen. The price for child (6 to 11 years old) is half price. It is free for under 5 years old as long as child travel with the adult passenger who have a pass.

Please see the details about Kyushu Rail Pass.

JR Kyushu Foreign Student Pass (JR九州留学生パス)

If you are in Japan as “Exchange Student” or “Student”, you are eligible to purchase Foreign Student Pass. You need t oshow the certificate of alien registration or Residence Card when you purchase. JR Kyushu have only Japanese website about this pass.

JR Kyushu Foreign Student Pass (JR九州留学生パス)

The price is same as Kyushu Rail Pass, Northern area 3 days at 7,000 yen and All area 3 days at 14,000 yen. Rules and conditions are very similar to Kyusuhu Rail Pass. You can take any JR trains in Kyushu except Sanyo Shinkansen between Kokura and Hakata/Hakata-Minami. But this Foreign Student Pass do not cover any reserved seat. (Kyushu Rail Pass does) Most of trains have both reserved and non reserved seat. But you need to pay reserved seat fee when you take the following trains because there is no non reserved seat. And child rate is not available.

This pass do not cover any Green class seat and any JR Bus lines either. But the price is very reasonable. If you have round trip to Kagoshima from Hakata, All area pass much cheaper than single fare. If you have round trip to Kumamoto from Hakata, Northern area pass is much cheaper than single fare. You can find some fare standards in the post about Kyushu Rail Pass. This pass gives you a great deal.

You can purchase this rail pass at most of stations in Kyushu and JR Kyushu travel center in Kyushu. You cannot purchase it in other than Kyushu area.

Actvie 65

SL Hitoyoshi runs between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi is one of the popular cruising train in Kyushu. But you need to pay extra to take it by Active 65 ticket.

This ticket is unlimited Kyushu train ride pass for the residents in Japan. But this pass is not available for anybody. Traveller must be 65 years old or older. Married couple ticket is available also. If husband or wife travel with the traveller who is 65 or older, husband or wife must not be more than 65 years old. But married couple must travel together all time. Only one ticket is issued per couple. Common-law couple can purchase this pass too. The prices are Northern area pass at 16,000 yen and All area pass at 30,000 yen. The prices of couple ticket is just double. Of course child rate is not available.

This pass is very similar to Kyushu Rail Pass. The condition of this pass is different from Kyushu Rail Pass. The biggest difference are the following:

  • Reserved seat can be covered by this pass. But it is up to 6 times and there are some exception. Not unlimited.
  • Reserved seat of Kyushu Shinkansen Mizuho is not covered. You can take non reserved seat, but if you want to take reserved seat, you need to pay full limited express surcharge.
  • SL Hitoyoshi and Panorama seat/Shiroi Kurochan seat on Limited Express Aso Boy! are not covered. Because the reservation ticket fares of these seats are higher than regular reserved seat fare. You need to pay full limited express surcharge when you take these seats by this pass. There is no non reserved seat on these trains.
  • Any Green seat is not covered. But if you pay Green seat supplement, the pass cover basic fare.

This ticket will be sold by March 31, 2013. But you have to complete to use 3 consecutive days by March 31, 2013. So you need to purchase by March 29, 2013. You can start to use this pass at the same time of purchasing.

You can purchase this rail pass at most of stations in Kyushu and JR Kyushu travel center in Kyushu. You cannot purchase it in other than Kyushu area.

Kyushu Mankitsu Kippu (旅名人の九州満喫きっぷ)

Unfortunately there is no unlimited Kyushu train ride pass for anybody. This is only available unlimited ride ticket for anybody. But this ticket is completely different for other above pass. The biggest difference are the following:

  • Only local and rapid trains are covered. The pass does not cover even basic fare when you take express trains.
  • This pass COVER ALL NON JR Lines in Kyushu, such as Nishinihon Railway, Hisatsu Orange Railway,
  • You don’t need to use this pass in 3 consecutive days. You can pick any 3 days in three month since you purchase a ticket.
  • You can even share a ticket with other person. So three person can use a ticket as one day unlimited pass.
  • Torokko train of Minami Aso Railways is not covered by this pass.
  • If you pay reserved seat surcharge, you can take reserved seat of rapid or local trains, such as SL Hitoyoshi and Isaburo/Shinpei.

The price is 10,500 yen. If you use 3 days by yourself, you need to make a plan carefully. But if you share this pass with other two persons, it is much simpler to use. 3,500 yen per person is the cost of your trip. The sample fare standard is the following:

Street car runs in Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Kagoshima.
  • Single fare for one way trip to Kumamoto from Hakata — 2,070 yen
  • Single fare for one way trip to Nagasaki from Hakata — 2,730 yen
  • Single fare for one way trip to Hitoyoshi from Kumamoto — 1,770 yen
  • Single fare for one way trip to Miyazaki from Kagoshima-Chuo — 2,420 yen

As you see the above sample fares, it is not hard to use more than 3,500 yen worth. And the street car is available in several cities in Kyushu and is covered by the pass. It makes you to get your money worth easier.

I understand this ticket is not suitable to anybody. But it may be your choice when you travel in Kyushu.

This ticket was started to sell on April 1, 2012. JR Kyushu have not announced the end of sales. The ticket can be purchased at most of stations in Kyushu and JR Kyushu travel center in Kyushu. You can use this ticket for Fukuoka subway technically. But when you arrive at Fukuoka airport, you cannot purchase a ticket at the airport. So you need to purchase a single ticket to get JR Kyushu Hakata station first.

22 thoughts on “How to choose Rail Pass for trip in Kyushu. Many choices for both visitors and residents in Japan.”

  1. Hi, we are visiting Fukuoka (staying at Hakataku, Fukuoka-Shi) in late April. Would it be cheaper for us to buy the JR Pass for the following itinerary or should we buy the bus tickets?
    Day 1 – Fukuoka city
    Day 2 – Dazaifu
    Day 3 – Kawachi Wisteria Garden/Kokura/Mt Sarakura
    Day 4 – Kumamoto
    Day 5 – Yufuin/Oita?
    Day 6 – Saga
    Day 7/8 – Fukuoka

    thanks for your kind advises.

    1. Hi Kien,

      I recommend you to use Kyushu rail pass northern area 5 days for day 2 to 6.

      But you have to take a bus to get Kawachi Wisteria Garden from Yawata station and Daizaifu from Futsukaichi station. These are not covered.

      I think you can okay to pay a regular fare as you need on day 1, 7 and 8.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshisan, thanks for your recommendation. I have bought the North Kyushu Pass. May i know can i make seat reservation online? And should i make it? We will be travelling to Fukuoka on 1 May.

  2. Hi. My family,5 adults, will be arriving April13 at Fukuoka International Airport. We plan to take the shuttle bus from the airport to Nagasaki, spend 2 nights there. April 15, take the JR train to Hiroshima and stay for 2 nights then travel back to Fukuoka(Hakata), April 17 and again stay for 2 nights. April19 we fly back home from Fukuoka International Airport. Which JR pass is the most economical for us?We are staying in hotels near the train stations for easy accessibility.

    1. Hi Ruth,

      You may use Kyushu Rail Pass northern area 3 days and Hiroshima Yamaguchi area pass.

      This is most affordable choice but Hiroshima Yamaguchi area pass does not cover reserved seat fee. (Kyushu Rail Pass does)

      If you want to take a reserved seat for Hakata-Hiroshima segment too, you may use Sanyo-San’in Northern Kyushu Pass instead of using two passes.

      Please find the info about non reserved seat and reserved seat in the link below:


      Takeshi /

  3. Hello Takeshi-san,
    Is the Kyushu Mankitsu Kippu is still used in Kyushu?
    There is very little information on this pass.
    I’m planning an Autumn trip in November this year.
    Thank you.

      1. Thank you very much, Takeshi-san
        Keep up the good work with your site.
        Tourists like us appreciated it very much!


          1. Hello again Takeshi-san,
            This is regarding the Kyushu Mankitsu Pass, yet again.
            I did my best to understand the use of this pass using Google Translate.
            So, may i confirm my plan with you for the pass to make sure my correct understanding?

            There will be two of us travelling and 1 Pass can be used a maximum of 3 stamps.
            My friend and I can both use 1 pass together on 25.11.2019 on Limited Express Nichirin from Beppu to Nobeoka. I use 2 stamps here.
            For the last stamp, only one of use can use it on 7.12.2019 between Hakata – Yanagawa – Dazaifu – Hakata on Nishitetsu Trains, since the pass can be used non-consecutively.

            Is this plan possible? Would love to hear your advice on it.
            Thank you.

            1. Hi Hezleen S. san,

              Actually you misunderstand the basic rule. This pass does not cover any limited express trains on JR line. You must take a local or a rapid train. The basic rule is very similar to Seishun 18 Kippu.

              When you travel from Beppu to Nobeoka, the travel time is much longer because you have to take a local train. If you are okay with this condition, you can use this pass for your way, 2 passengers for one day and 1 passenger for the other day. For the trip to Dazaifu and Yanagawa by Nishitetsu, it’s no problem.

              However I think you cannot get the worth of this pass by these trips. The base fare from Beppu to Nobeoka is around 2,500 yen. So you will get about 5,000 yen value. And I don’t think you can get another 5,000 yen value from Yanagawa and Dazaifu trip. It costs probably less than 3,000 yen.

              At this point, this deal does not work unfortunately.


              Takeshi /

              1. Takeshi-san,
                My mistake there.
                Without limited express train, the journey to Nobeoka is way too long (2days) as we plan to go to Takachiho.
                We wont be using any train pass on the 25.11 so our best option currently to Takachiho is perhaps by Highway Bus Pacific Liner to Nobeoka (our original plan).
                Shall amend our travel plan accordingly.

                Thanks for the prompt reply, Takeshi-san.
                Take care!

                Hezleen 🙂

  4. Hi lily,
    We are travelling to Fukuoka this November. I would just like to ask what is the best transportation to use for a travel from Tenjin (we are staying at Hotel My stays Tenjin) to Nagasaki (staying at Nagasaki Washington Hotel). We are a family of 5 with 3kids in tow (tourists with short stay) plus an aunt who is a japanese resident. Thank you in advance

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I like your website very much.

    I am just wondering for the foreign student kyushu pass, you mentioned it can last for 3 consecutive days. I am planning to visit Kyushu from 15-21 of March with a student visa. In that case, can i apply for a pass from 15-18 , and once i this one is expired can i apply for a new one which last from 19-21 again?

    Or can i only apply for once? Or can i apply for two 3 days pass at once

    thank u


    1. Hi Winnie,

      You can purchase this pass as many as you want. You can purchase two or more passes at same time. You will choose the date when you start using the ass when you purchase it.
      This pass is valid for 3 days. So if you start using the pass anytime on 15th, it’s valid until 23:59 on 17th. It does not matter what time you start using the pass. So you have to use two passes + regular fare or three passes. I cannot find which one is better without your trip plan. You can find a regular fare at hyperdia. Please consider which choice is better.

      You can find the conditions of this pass in the link below:



  6. Hi,
    Please assist me regarding my trip in Kyushu. I arrive into Fukuoka airport at 19.30 and this is my itinery. Stay 1 nite in Fukuoka.

    I will buy5 days North Kyushu pass to go Kumamoto, Aso, Beppu Yufuin, Kagoshima and back to Fukuoka. Can this pass be use on Kyushu odan bus ? I also like to take special train to see nice scenery do I need to buy Sun Q pass? I will return to Fukuoka, please teach me is it better to end my travel in Kagoshima and then take train or bus back to Fukuoka? how many hours is the travelling time?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Lily,

      Norther Kyushu Rail Pass does not cover Kagochima. If you want to access Kagoshima by train, you need All Area Kyushu Rail Pass. Please find the detailed info at JR Kyushu official site.

      This rail pass does not cover any bus services. But you can take Special train, such as Hayato-no-Kaze, Ibusuki-no-Tamatebako.

      On the other hand, Sun Q Pass gives you unlimited ride of bus services in Kyushu. It does not cover any train services.

      You don’t need to use both Kyushu Rail Pass and Sun Q Pass. If you want to take a train, Sun Q Pass is not your choice.

      You may find all train schedule at Hyperdia. I show you how to use the site at the link below:


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Hello. I have a question regarding the JR Kyushu Foreign Student Pass. Can we use it for 3 non consecutive days? Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    P/s : Your website have been very helpful to me. Thank you very much and keep up the good work! =)

    1. Hi Afia,

      Thanks for your comment about my website. I’m very happy that my website help you to plan your trip.

      This pass is available for 3 consecutive days. Once you have to start to use it, you have to finish in 3 days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

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  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
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