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The Perfect Kyushu Itinerary: 5-Day, 7-Day & 10-Day

The Perfect Kyushu Itinerary: 5-Day, 7-Day & 10-Day

Are you heading to Kyushu for 1-2 weeks and want to pack your itinerary with lots of epic locations and adventures? I have got you covered. This 5-day Kyushu Itinerary (7-day & 10-day also included) will be your best resource for adventurous activities in Kyushu. I’m talking waterfalls, onsens, volcanoes, and some epic viewpoints along the way.



When you book your Rental Car online, I personally recommend and always use Klook for car rentals in Japan. They search for both local and international companies, so you get the best deal!

I spent three weeks in Kyushu so I know the best places to use as your base to maximize your time. This is a self-drive itinerary as it is just too hard with public transport to see all of the tourist hotspots in a short amount of time. 


What is included in this Kyushu itinerary blog post?

  • In this Kyushu itinerary blog post I will first detail how you should structure your five-day itinerary to make the most of your time.
  • In each location, I will suggest how to extend the itinerary to 7-days or 10-days or even longer like myself.
  • Finally, at the bottom of the blog post, I will share my tips on things to know before you travel to Kyushu (specific information for adventurous travelers)

So, let’s get into it.


an aerial view of a resort with a swimming pool.
a dock with umbrellas and chairs next to a swimming pool.


The Kyushu Itinerary I am creating for you here is based on exploring by rental car. I just didn’t find Kyushu to be a place easy to explore by public transport or even with one base and tour groups etc. It’s spread out and not well linked, especially when we are talking about the hikes, mountains, and waterfalls rather than the city attractions. While the train may suit those in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and even in Fukuoka, it won’t cut it out here on Kyushu.

When I rent a car in Kyushu, I recommend and I always use Discover Cars, and you can see why below. The best part about Discover Cars? You can add full coverage insurance for only about $8 per day.

The trains will get you from major towns and even into some regional areas with bus connections but almost all of the adventure spots I visited had no bus connection. When I searched on Google Maps and clicked the public transport option it would just say ‘not available’. It was very clear, very quickly that Kyushu island is best to explore by rental car, especially if you are doing hikes and activities outside of the city (literally everything on this list).


*** It is extremely important to know that you MUST HAVE an international driver’s license to rent a car in Japan. In fact, they won’t even look at your actual driver’s license and only want to see the international driver’s license. Take that seriously as they genuinely will not give you the car and likely no refund if you don’t have that. To get one you need to be in your country of residence and you can get one on the spot or order online and receive it in a week or so. Make sure you organize that in advance as I almost got caught out not knowing that. 


I visited in February, which was winter and freezing. I don’t advise it but it was still epic. The best time to visit Kyushu is most definitely not winter. It’s not really a ski destination so likely you will be freezing and all of the leaves will be dead so the landscapes will not be as beautiful as at other times of the year. There are a few drawcards for each season so I will go through them below.

  • Fall/Autumn: The temperature is mild and comfortable making it great for hikes and adventuring. If you time things right, you will get the beautiful fall colors out on the trails!
  • Spring: This is definitely the most popular season to travel to Kyushu with sunny days and comfortable temperatures. It is very popular at this time due to the cherry blossoms and flowers that are in full swing at this time of year.
  • Summer: While not known for its beaches, Kyushu does offer a number of great swimming spots and beaches to explore. For hiking, it may get a little hot but (up to 30 degrees Celsius) never reaching temperatures that would limit your adventures. 
a person standing in front of a waterfall.


The way I am breaking this itinerary up is into two locations if you have 5 days and three locations if you have 7 days. The 10-day itinerary will have four locations but will explore more from each base location. So, let’s start with the ideal 5-day itinerary for explorers.


Kumamoto and Beppu will be the home bases for this five-day itinerary so that you can cover the most popular spots and get to all the iconic places in under a week. This is a packed itinerary so don’t be afraid to erase an activity or take a rest day but it is possible with planning to fit them all in. They are all great spots and you won’t be disappointed at any of these locations. I’ve been to them all personally and had an epic adventure. At the bottom of this blog post, I’m going to add a small snippet about each location with a link to the individual blog post I have written for each spot.


Day 1: Mount Aso Day Tour or Mount Aso Hiking/Mount Eboshi

Day 2: GorogoTaki Waterfall in the morning and Mount Neko Hike in the afternoon

Day 3: Takachiho Gorge Tour


Day 4: Onbara Falls mini-hike and Mount Taharamaya/Magaibutsu Buddha

Day 5: Onsen experience and Mount Yufu or Mount Tsurumi

Optional Day 6: Optional extra day in Fukuoka exploring the city and venturing down to Keya No Oto hike in Itoshima 


Kumamoto, Beppu, and Kirishima will be the home bases for this seven-day itinerary. You’ll probably need a rest day unless you are a machine but see how you go. I’ve been to all of the spots personally and had an epic adventure. At the bottom of this blog post, I’m going to add a small snippet about each location with a link to the individual blog post I have written for each spot.


Day 1: Mount Aso Day Tour or Mount Aso Hiking/Mount Eboshi

Day 2: GorogoTaki Waterfall in the morning and Mount Neko Hike in the afternoon

Day 3: Takachiho Gorge Tour


Day 4: Onbara Falls mini-hike and Mount Taharamaya/Magaibutsu Buddha

Day 5: Onsen experience and Mount Yufu or Mount Tsurumi


Day 6: Drive to Kirishima in the morning and on the way hike Mount Karakuni

Day 7: Mount Kaimondake hike, Ryumon, and Inukai Waterfall


Kumamoto, Beppu, and Kirishima will be the home bases for this seven-day itinerary. You’ll probably need a rest day unless you are a machine but see how you go. I’ve been to all of the spots personally and had an epic adventure. At the bottom of this blog post, I’m going to add a small snippet about each location with a link to the individual blog post I have written for each spot.


Day 1: Mount Aso Day Tour or Mount Aso Hiking/Mount Eboshi

Day 2: GorogoTaki Waterfall in the morning and Mount Neko Hike in the afternoon

Day 3: Takachiho Gorge Tour

Day 4: Mount Kuju Hiking circuit and transit from Kumamoto to Beppu


Day 5: Onbara Falls mini-hike and Mount Taharamaya/Magaibutsu Buddha

Day 6: Onsen experience and cable car or hike to Mount Tsurumi


Day 6: Drive to Kirishima in the morning and on the way hike Mount Karakuni

Day 7: Mount Kaimondake hike, Ryumon, and Inukai Waterfall

Day 8: Visit Sakurajima (active volcano) 

Day 9 & 10: Overnight trip to Yakushima with two day-hikes.


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So, those are the three different Kyushu itineraries I’ve put together. I hope you have a great time in Kyushu and enjoy it as much as I did! Remember these are just suggestions and if you don’t like hiking so much, you can change the activities around and do more cultural activities, visit historical sites and castles, or do food-focused tours.

Below are the snippets of all the activities I suggested in the itineraries above so you can see what I am adding to each itinerary.


The journey to Onbara Falls is a very, very short trek but will remove you from the town of Beppu and immerse you in the jungle making you feel lost beneath the falls. Onbara Falls is a bit of a hidden gem just outside the town of Beppu in Oita Prefecture of Kyushu, Japan. Beppu is one of the most famous Onsen towns in Japan and even the world. However, amidst all of the hot springs and Onsens are some truly epic waterfalls and Onbara Falls is up there with the most beautiful and most accessible.

The trail is short and well-defined with a dirt/rock path leading you up to the falls. With the morning sun shining through it was actually a beautiful little walk, which is only about 2km return.

Read the full blog post for details: ONBARA FALLS IN KYUSHU, JAPAN



Mount Karakuni is the highest peak in the Kirishima Mountain Range of Kyushu Island in Japan with a height of 1,700 meters. Mount Karakuni has a volcanic crater, which is 900 meters and 300 meters deep. The hike up from the visitor center is relatively short with just a few kilometers in distance but quite steep. From the summit, you can look over to the ‘Ring of Fire’, which is the off-limits 

The total hike distance for me was 9.6km for my entire lap of the Kirishima area but there are many ways to make it shorter. If you just go up and down Mount Karakuni from the visitor center it will be about 5-6km in total. I added on the lap of Lake Rokkannonmiike and Lake Byakashiike.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: MOUNT KARAKUNI HIKE (KARAKUNIDAKE) IN KIRISHIMA



The Mount Taharayama hike leads you on a steep ascent up to an epic, rocky ridgeline before you descend down into the forest to discover a 10th century stone buddha carving into the cliff wall. It’s an adventure with a tomb-raider vibe and is definitely sure to have you off-the-beaten-path and out there amongst the adventure in the Oita Prefecture of Kyushu Island, Japan.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: MT. TAHARAYAMA HIKE TO KUMANO MAGAIBUTSU (BUDDHA STATUE)


Inukai Falls was probably my favorite waterfall that I visited while based in Kirishima. It was a booming waterfall but I really loved the gorge that led up to the falls, which was lined by woodland and forest giving it a Pacific Northwest vibe. I actually had to wait a while here for the fog to clear enough to see the falls but when it cleared a little, I was able to record a little video on the drone to show you just how epic this gorge is.

What are my favorite pieces of travel gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never travel without. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my travel essentials.

  • Packing Cube Set: Once you cube you’ll never go back. Organize your clothes within your luggage with these smart mesh containers. It will revolutionize your packing.
  • Quick-Dry Towel: A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
  • Travel Wallet: Keep your passport, wallet, and vaccine card safe as well as any forms and important documents you need to store.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: I’ve used this for three years. It filters your water with one press and you can drink directly from it. Never buy a plastic water bottle again!



In the Aso region of the Kumamoto Prefecture in the center of Kyushu Island is the Mount Aso region, which is one of the largest calderas in the entire world. Hiking in Mount Aso Region is one of the most incredible adventures you can have in Japan. Mount Aso is a volcanic depression, which is essentially a huge crater that has a number of peaks within this region that can be trekked. There are numerous craters within the crater such as the very active Nakadake Crater. 

The Caldera spans 17 kilometers from east to west and 25 kilometers from south to north with a total area of 350 square kilometers. When we talk about this caldera it is a huge area but at the center of the caldera is where all of the action is when it comes to volcanic activity, hiking, museums, and tourism. In the middle of the caldera is the central crater group which consists of the five Aso peaks which are Mt. Taka (Takadake), Mt. Naka (Nakadake), Mt. Eboshi (Eboshidake), Mt. Kijima (Kijimadake), and Mt. Neko (Nekodake).

I hiked all of the peaks except for Kijima. The Nakadake and Takadake loop (when open) is my favorite hike in Kyushu… by far. It looks down on the active volcano crater and makes you feel like you are in outer space or trekking through a post-apocalyptic world.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: HIKING MOUNT ASO VOLCANO – A COMPLETE GUIDE


Mount Eboshi is one of the five peaks of the central cone group of the famous Mount Aso. It’s the easiest peak and probably the safest peak to climb taking just over an hour to get up and down from the summit. The view from the top is quite remarkable as it looks out over the Nakadake Crater, which is where the active volcano of Mount Aso is found.

The Mount Eboshi hike is a great little trail not because of the views or the adventure but because it is usually open! Because Nakadake Crater and the active volcano within it are often spewing ash high into the air, the surrounding trails are often closed. This leaves adventurous hikers feeling a bit stuck. Luckily Eboshi is a bit further away but you still have nice views of the erupting volcano. 

At the summit, you have a view out to Nakadake Crater, which is where the eruptions, smoke, and all the action takes place. In the other directions, you can witness the entire caldera and the various rock formations and craters that are scattered throughout the region. I visited Mount Eboshi as part of the ‘Around Aso Tour‘, which was the perfect way to explore this region on a full-day trip from Fukuoka.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: MOUNT EBOSHI HIKE (EBOSHIDAKE) IN MOUNT ASO


Mount Neko is the second tallest peak in the Mount Aso region at 1,443m high for the Tengu Peak and the opposite Toho Peak is 1,408m high. It’s called Nekodake because from Aso it looks like two cat ears when you see both of the peaks. It was an awesome but steep hike and the jagged peaks were just incredible at the summit during sunset.

As well as the numerous ropes to help you up the summit of Nekodake, you will also encounter several ladders, helping you ascend through the forest. None of the ropes, ladders or bouldering is technical or very difficult but be prepared for a bit of action along the trail.

At the summit, you will look out across to the Tengu Peak, which is the most prominent peak and you really can’t miss it. In the late afternoon, the sun sets behind this peak so it’s a really magical spot to take in the whole ridge.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: MOUNT NEKO HIKE (NEKODAKE) IN KYUSHU


The Gorogotaki Waterfall is the largest falls in Yamato, Kumamoto with a 50m drop into the basin below. The beauty of this waterfall on Kyushu Island is that often it is crowned by a rainbow as the water crashed down onto the rocks, spraying up and catching the light perfectly in a stream of color. My favorite part about this waterfall is that you view it from the suspension bridge. There is also a really nice walk around the region through the rice fields and through the gorge to the base of the falls.

Read the full blog post here: GOROGOTAKI WATERFALL NEAR KUMAMOTO


The stunning Kuju Mount range is part of the Aso-Kuju National Park and while Mount Kuju might be the most famous it is actually the nearby Nakadake Peak that is the highest peak in the park, which makes it the highest point on Kyushu Island. These mountains are connected by a series of hiking trails so you can kind of make it up as you go, pushing on to ‘one more peak’ time and time again or following a set route. I did a bit of both.

It’s straight up from the get-go so don’t put too many jackets on you will be working that incline straight away. Once you reach the ridge it’s time for the adventure to start. The trail turns into a rocky ridgeline with a number of ladders and some very low-key bouldering required.

The total day of climbing was 1,026m so it’s always an effort when you grab a vertical kilometer. The trail was rocky but quite well defined and we never had too many difficulties finding our way. At the top of Mount Kuju, we could watch over the erupting Mount Aso in the distance and admire the valley below.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: HIKING THE KUJU MOUNTAIN RANGE


The ‘Hells’ of Beppu, as they are known, are seven incredible hot springs all in one area. Unlike many of the onsens or hot springs in the area, these specific hot springs are for viewing only as they are far too hot for bathing. They are quite a tourist attraction and it almost looks like zoo enclosures but instead of almost there is a bubbling, steaming pool of volcanically heated water. The reason these ‘Hells’ are so unique is that they each have a different feature such as the orange Hell or the deep blue Hell. I thought the experience of visiting the Hells of Beppu was quite cool but very touristy. I visited the Beppu Hells as part of this full-day tour from Fukuoka including the Beppu Hells and Yufuin Spa Town.


Takachiho Gorge is one of the most incredible natural attractions on Kyushu Island, Japan. In the forest of Miyazaki, the Gokase River runs through a gorge comprised of volcanic basalt columns where the 17-meter high Minainotaki Waterfall pours down on the awe-struck tourists below who are paddling the iconic rowboats through the narrow chasm. 

Kyushu Island is beautiful in the summer and the fall, which are the most popular times for tourists. In the fall you get the beautiful tinged orange and different colors on the trees and in the summer you are blessed with the best weather. I visited in the winter, which was not the prettiest time as lots of the leaves were dead so there were plenty of sparse trees. However, Takachiho Gorge was at a lower elevation and in a spot that was still beautiful and green in the winter. The conclusion is pretty much that it is a year-round attraction, which will only differ slightly at various times throughout the year.

The first way to enjoy Takachio gorge and the Minaionotaki Waterfall is to paddle underneath the stone bridge and then alongside the Minainotaki Waterfall. It sprayed us a little but mostly we just enjoyed the stunning gorge, which is made of volcanic basalt columns. The columns are said to resemble the scales of a dragon where the stones were twisted when the river flowed in the formation of the gorge.

The second way to enjoy the Takachiho Gorge is from one of the many viewing points. My two favorites were the bridge and the lower (most popular) viewpoint. The bridge gives you a very elevated view of the boats and the waterfall below, framed nicely by the overhanging trees and the walls of the gorge.


As I said above, Takachiho Gorge is a bit hard to get to with public transport so unless you have rented a car, the best way to get there is on the Takachiho Gorge Day Tour. The tour includes drop-off and pickup from your hotel, an English-speaking guide for while you are at the gorge. Helen the guide is an absolute legend and we loved this tour and this epic location.

CLICK HERE to check rates and availability for the Takachiho Gorge Day Tour


Mount Kaimon (Kaimondak) is an inactive volcano along the coast in the south of Kyushu known for its conical shape. The Mount Kaimon hike leads you through the forest on a steep, rocky trail up ladders and boulders to the summit where you are rewarded with coastal views from the top of the volcano.

The trail begins with an incline from the very first moment as you wind your way through the woodlands at the base of the volcano. It was a very beautiful part of the trail as the sunlight shone through the trees and into the mini canyons created by erosion on the path. At some points, the walls on either side of the trail were above head height, which added a unique atmosphere to the trail.

The trail quickly intensifies as the dirt paths transition into a boulder-laden trail, which requires agility and concentration. Lots of old hikers were on the trail so it’s by no means too challenging but it will certainly slow you down somewhat. 
The end of the trail is marked by a Tori Gate and a shrine. Once you reach the gate you can breathe a sigh of relief as you have all but made it to the summit after 730m of incline on tough terrain. The viewpoint at the top extends from coast to coast as you have a view of more than 180 degrees to really take in this southern region of Kyushu. 

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: MOUNT KAIMON HIKE (KAIMONDAKE) IN KAGOSHIMA


Kyushu is famous for its hot springs and it is one of the most volcanic places in the world. It is Beppu that is at the center of this volcanic activity when it comes to onsens and hot springs with hundreds of different onsens, spa-resorts and hot springs to test out. It’s definitely an experience you want to try at least once. The general premise of an onsen experience is that you will arrive fully clothed, strip down to naked and then bathe in the hot spring water with the other locals and visitors. The minerals, temperature and meditative experience are said to be very beneficial for your health. I visited Hoyoland Onsen as they allowed people with tattoos to bathe whereas many do not due to traditional laws. There are lots of very scenic onsens to choose from but make sure you try it at least once as this is the most cultural experience you can have and one of the best things to do in Kyushu.

I didn’t take a photo at the onsen as it isn’t allowed and would be very weird as everyone is naked so I’ve added in a stock photo below to show you what it looks like. 


Keya no Oto is a beautiful coastal viewpoint of Itoshima, which has incredible views of the beach from the ominous ridgeline and a 64m cave below! You can hike all the way up onto the top of the ridge as there is a bit of a trail, which includes some basic bouldering/rock climbing. It isn’t a trail I would recommend unless you are athletic and adept at bouldering and climbing. 

Atop the ridge, it was a very narrow path. A 50m+ drop on either side meant we had to focus on our steps until we reached a safer, wider spot on top of the ridge. We took a moment to relax up here, taking in the view of the beach and down to the volcanic cone at the other end of the coastline.

Read the full blog post for details and all photos: KEYA NO OTO HIKE IN ITOSHIMA


While I was based in Beppu I headed up for sunrise one morning to hike Mount Yufu. It’s known as being quite a tough hike due to the consistent incline and relentless switchbacks that lead you up to the two peaks at the summit. However, on the day I visited, it was covered in the cloud at the top. We saw deer along the way and really enjoyed the hike. I know the view from the summit is pretty epic so I’ve added it onto this list with a photo from a day with better weather. It was a 7km round trip with more than 700m of an incline up the switchbacks. I’ve included a photo below of the view from the top and the view from below on a day in better conditions than when I hiked. Keep in mind, it is known for being a peak that is hard to catch on a clear day so do pick the best day of the week regarding weather.

Yufudake, Mount Yufu, Oita, Japan, Aso-Kuju National Park

Sakura and sunrise over Mount Yufu


If you are staying near Kirishima then Ryumon Falls is definitely a spot I would recommend. It isn’t too far from Kirishima town and is a pretty epic waterfall. There is a small parking lot and then you walk about 500 meters to the viewing platform. You can go down closer to the base of the falls as well but it was a stormy, misty day when I visited and I was the only one there. I decided to just enjoy the view from the platform and snapped a photo from right there.


When you stay in the town of Beppu, you will always notice the mountains looming at the back of the valley. The highest point is called Mount Tsurumi and it’s actually possible to reach by cable car. However, there is a trail to the top if you are up for the very steep challenge.

Of course, if you are just in it for the view, take the cable car but for those who love the adventure and want to spot some deer along the way the trail starts just around the backside of the cable car parking. Drive an extra half mile up the road past the cable car parking and you will find the trail entrance on the right side of the road. It’s on if you can’t find it.

At the summit, you have a beautiful view down over the town of Beppu and the entire beach. Just like Mount Yufu, on the day I visited, the weather was quite poor visibility with heavy fog so I have included a photo from a clearer day so you can decide if this is a hike you are keen to add to your Kyushu bucket list.

View from Mount Tsurumi, Beppu


View from Mount Tsurumi, Beppu


  • Best Luxury Place to Stay in Fukuoka: Hotel WBF Grande Hakata (Value): This is by far the most popular hotel and one of the most luxurious in Fukuoka.
  • Best Value Place to Stay in Kumamoto: Hotel The Gate Kumamoto (Value): Hotel The Gate is a well-situated accommodation in the heart of Kumamoto, just across the train station and within walking distance to shops and restaurants.
  • Best Luxury Place to Stay in Kumamoto: Kumamoto Hotel Castle (Luxury): Set near the infamous Kumamoto Castle, this luxury hotel features a wide range of carpeted rooms from standard rooms to suites fitted with plush amenities.

For a full list of the top-rated places to stay in Kyushu, you can check out my comprehensive guide: WHERE TO STAY IN KYUSHU: BEST REGIONS & HOTELS


I spent over three weeks exploring Kyushu and visited some incredible waterfalls, hiked some amazing trails, and visited a number of epic volcanoes. I created a number of guides to help travelers find the best spots in Kyushu. You can explore the articles by clicking on the links below.


Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Thanks so much for this detailed and informative post!


Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

Heyo! I'd love to do this but I'm going in January, what month did you go in and would you say January might be too cold?


Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Looks great! Based on your blog, we decided to spend a week in this area next month! Do you remember where you rent a car as nothing looks availbe to me :(?

Sunday 1st of November 2020

Thank you for sharing your information about Kyushu and suggestion for sightseeing. Great job