3 Day Road Trip Across Kyushu | japan-guide.com

Kyushu is the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands and, in addition to being known for its vibrant cities brimming with interesting history and culture, it is also celebrated as among the best regions in the country to take in breathtaking volcanic landscapes and experience atmospheric hot spring towns One of the ultimate ways to enjoy what this rugged land has to offer is to travel the breadth of the island between two of its most visited cities in part along the iconic Yamanami Highway Passing three of Japan’s top hot spring towns, each of which retain their own unique charm, this route also treats travelers to a variety of the island’s hallmark culture, history and food Add to these attractions an almost uninterrupted series of awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes as the route winds through Kyushu’s mountainous interior, and you have one of the most epic road trips in all of Japan With so much to do and see along this route, this was a road trip I was extremely eager to experience for myself I’m Sam Evans for japan-guide.com, and for the next three days I’ll be making the trip across Kyushu Here’s the plan: After flying from Tokyo to Oita, we’ll start our journey by visiting the coastal hot spring mecca of Beppu and then drive along the Yamanami Highway to reach the quaint hot spring town of Yufuin where we’ll bed down for the night On day two, we’ll continue along the Yamanami Highway taking in the incredible landscape and making a couple of fun-filled stops along the way before reaching Kurokawa Onsen, a rustic hot spring town tucked away in a lush valley On our third and final day it’s up early as we continue on to majestic Mount Aso before finishing our road trip with a cultural tour of Kumamoto City So follow along as we travel across Kyushu on a three day road trip DAY 1 Upon arrival in Kyushu, we’ll pick up a rental car and begin our exciting three-day tour, first stopping in Beppu, and then moving on to Yufuin Onsen, where we’ll be spending our first night When most people think about travel in Japan they think about trains, but when going a long distance like we are today then the best option can sometimes be the plane So that’s why this morning we’re travelling early out of the airport down to begin our Kyushu exploration, and it’s exciting, I’ve had a good sleep so let’s get on with this All ready for takeoff, now to sit back for the one and a half hour flight, and take in some impressive bird’s eye views along the way After arriving at Oita Airport in Sunny Oita, which is my first time to this prefecture and a great one to get off the list, we’re on our way to Beppu where we’re going to check out the hells There are seven hells in Beppu, and first up today we are going to visit the Umi jigoku which literally means “sea hell” in Japanese So here we are in Beppu, now this town is special for a number of reasons Firstly this town outputs more hot spring water than any other hot spring town in the entire country Secondly, this town isn’t just about bathing Apart from the baths there are various areas around town, such as this one behind me, which are called ‘hells’ where you can go and view the hot water And third, when it does come to bathing well, Beppu’s got you covered because here there are a multitude of different bathing options, not just limited to water but also steam, mud and sand And speaking of sand baths, we’re going to try one a little later on After Umi Jigoku, we’ll now check out the Kamado Jigoku, or cooking pot hell, where we’ll walk around a bit and then fill our stomachs with a lunch of onsen-steamed food So at this hell you can drink this 80 degree water So I’m going to give it a try It’s like British tea, only not at all So we’ve got the food and we’re about to eat

There is so much thermal heat, that is it is used to cook in Beppu So I’m about to enjoy some steam-cooked corn, steam-cookied pork bun, steamed eggs, and some steamed pudding Let’s dig in Itadakimasu That’s great Really good So this is ramune It’s basically a nostalgic flavored fizzy drink And it’s sold here in Beppu Now to open it, you interestingly have to kind of smash this top and make a marble fall through So I’m going to give it a whirl now and hopefully I don’t break the table while I’m doing it Delicious! That’s really good Following the fun at the hells, it’s only a few minutes’ drive over to the beach where I am about to indulge in a sand bath experience With less than a handful of places in the country where one can enjoy this special kind of bath, I feel fortunate that this will mark my second sand bath experience From what I remember of my last experience having a sand bath, it’s incredibly pleasant, super warm, comfy and relaxing, and I’ll be surprised if I don’t nod off So for this experience I was given a yukata which is typical, got changed in the changing room, and proceeded to lie down here and got buried as you’ve just seen So it’s surprisingly it’s a really nice temperature It’s not too hot, but it does feel really nice and cozy It feels great So relaxing You can hear the waves in the distance from the beach And it’s honestly like you’re being given a big warm hug After this I’m to proceed to rise out of the ground and then I’m going to have to get clean So before getting changed I’ll go and take a bath in the bathhouse back there But what an incredible experience this is I recommend it Reinvigorated after the sand bath, it’s time to make the 30 minute drive on to the quaint hot spring town of Yufuin Along the way we’ll take in the unique scenery surrounding Mount Yufudake, the twin-peaked volcano that overlooks Yufuin, before descending into the town After checking into our beautiful ryokan and dropping my bags, I’ll make the short walk out to explore this scenic town Next it’s back to the ryokan to indulge in a traditional course dinner and a pre-bedtime bath When staying in a ryokan your traditional Japanese robe, or Yukata, will usually be found in a closet kind of like this one Now, while you’re at the ryokan your yukata can be worn for pretty much anything You can eat in it, walk around in it, you can even sleep in it So with that being said I’m gonna put mine on right now Now I’m ready for dinner So it’s finally dinner time and I’ve sat down to a kaiseki course meal It looks absolutely delicious, so itadakimasu and kampai! I do love a bit of sashimi, especially maguro Incredible So this is local high grade local beef We’re gonna have shabu shabu style

Which means that you pick it up and give it a gentle dip in this broth And then eat it Amazing A kaiseki course meal always ends with rice, miso soup, and pickles What a lovely meal Before bed it’s definitely time for a bath Now it’s not uncommon for ryokan to have bathing facilities So let me tell you how it’s done First of all, before getting in the bath you’ve got to give your body a good rinse and then get in and enjoy the soak but try and remember not to let your body towel touch the water DAY 2 Today after leaving Yufuin Onsen, we really switch gears into road-trip mode as we drive along a large stretch of the Yamanami Highway Along the way, we’ll trade tarmac for trekking around some scenic marshlands and then explore a unique hillside flower park, before arriving in Kurokawa Onsen, the destination for our second night’s stay To get the day started we’ll enjoy a pleasant early-morning stroll around Lake Kinrinko, just a stone’s throw from our ryokan It’s a shrine Now one of the ways you can tell it’s a shinto shrine as opposed to a buddhist temple is the shimenawa, that straw rope that hangs in an arch there I’m not the earliest of risers usually, but getting up early and seeing something like this makes me think I should get up early more often This is amazingly beautiful So this is onsen tamago It’s an egg that’s been boiled you could say in 80 degree water So, it’s not fully boiled It’s got a unique taste and it’s great breakfast food And with that it’s time to leave Yufuin Onsen and get back on the road for an enjoyable day of driving and adventure So this morning we’re back driving along the Yamanami Highway, that stretches from Beppu to Aso So we’re going to be driving along this highway a lot during this trip Now what’s special about this highway, apart from it passing a bunch of natural wonders like hot springs and hot spring towns and even volcanoes It’s absolutely beautiful, the scenery that you pass is just phenomenal, which makes driving along it kinda one of the attractions all on its own We’ve made a quick stop at one of the natural points of interest along the highway, these wetlands at the base of Mount Kuju, which is the tallest mountain on all of Kyushu From the wetlands we drive further into the Kuju Mountains, stopping briefly at the Makinoto Pass, the highest point along the Yamanami Highway, to enjoy the breathtaking vista Following this, we visit the Kuju Flower Park, a hillside park that boasts thousands upon thousands of vividly colored flowers around its well manicured grounds With rugged Mount Kuju acting as a photogenic backdrop to the floral displays, this park truly is a feast for the eyes We’re now closing in on Kurokawa Onsen, but before arriving and checking in to our

ryokan, we have enough time to make a quick stop at a hot spring bath on the outskirts of town to enjoy a heavenly soak in pristine nature After having a pleasant bath, we’re heading to our ryokan on the other side of Kurokawa Onsen to check in Before dinner there’s just enough time to walk around and explore this hot spring town on foot Kurokawa Onsen is one of Japan’s most attractive hot spring towns, notable for its wooden buildings and earthen walls contributing to a quaint aesthetic that has been consciously preserved here The compact town center is comprised of narrow lanes punctuated by traditional inns and shops, with a river flowing through to make for an intensely pleasant atmosphere Having worked up an appetite from strolling around the town now let’s get back to the ryokan for dinner This is another first for me, staying overnight in Kumamoto Prefecture, and we’re about to enjoy another delicious looking traditional meal at a ryokan This includes some Kumamoto delicacies including horse meat I’m starving after all that travelling so let’s dig in Itadakimasu Tastes ever so slightly gamey It’s chewy It’s got a great texture A little bit smokey because it’s been seared And it’s just incredible DAY 3 On this third and final day of our incredible cross-Kyushu trip, we’re first headed to see the area’s most famous volcano before taking to the road one last time and driving to Kumamoto City Before breakfast we’ll take advantage of our ryokan’s private baths for a pre-breakfast soak Private baths, or kashikiriburo, are not uncommon in ryokan and are typically reservable or first come first served These types of baths are perfect for couples or young families who want to bathe together or for those who just aren’t quite comfortable bathing in public But either way they make for a great experience So, this morning we’re being treated to another traditional breakfast And today some of the specialities include locally-sourced milk, this locally-made konnyaku and it looks delicious and I can’t wait to dig in So just finished breakfast and what can I say about Kurokawa onsen? It’s been an amazing place to stay, such a pretty little town, and I love this time of year, late spring early summer when it’s beginning to get really really green After this we’re gona hop back in the car and move on Our first stop is at Mount Aso and then after that we’re gona come to an end in Kumamoto Before arriving at Mount Aso, I couldn’t resist stopping at another observation area called the Daikanbo Lookout, to take in more breathtaking views of the surroundings So we’ve arrived and over here you can see majestic Mount Aso Now, when it’s deemed safe it’s possible to go right up to the rim and look down into the crater But there was a minor eruption a few weeks ago, so now it’s only possible to get within a kilometer of the crater, but I mean look at it that’s still a fantastic view

So we’ve just come from being close to the crater of Mount Aso I mean that was quite an awesome experience to say the least The scale of the landscape around these parts is just incredible It’s huge And now we are back in the car obviously and are en route to Kumamoto So we are just about coming into Kumamoto and in a way I’m kinda sad because that means that the driving part of this trip is very nearly over But having said that I’m looking forward to getting into the city and exploring the famous Kumamoto Castle and then also eating some Kumamoto ramen which I haven’t tried yet but I’ve heard is absolutely delicious Upon arriving in central Kumamoto our first stop is at Suizenji Garden This spacious Japanese garden was built in the 17th century for the enjoyment of the local feudal lords, and contains various picturesque features such as its own much smaller version of Mount Fuji Today the garden is open to the public, so anyone can enter and meander along the paths while soaking up the garden’s tranquility After wandering around Suizenji Garden it’s time to drive across town and grab a bowl of Kumamoto ramen before getting up close to Kumamoto Castle, the last spot on our itinerary Kumamoto is famous for its ramen Two typical ingredients are the pork bone broth and the garlic chips This one that I’ve got in front of me looks absolutely delicious so I’m gona dig in Salty, a little bit sweet and so rich, oh my So in Japan, it’s totally normal to slurp your noodles, so I’m gonna slurp away So we’re here at Kumamoto Castle Now this castle stands as one of the largest and most impressive castles in all of Japan Now as you can see a little bit behind me the castle was severely damaged during the 2016 earthquakes, and while there are still plenty of fantastic scenes it won’t be fully restored for a number of years yet And with that our journey draws to an end, so we head to Aso Kumamoto Airport to take the flight back to Tokyo and say farewell to this stunning part of the country until next time And that concludes our journey across Kyushu Thank you so much for joining me I hope this video has been enjoyable and perhaps even inspires some ideas, should you decide to plan a trip in Kyushu For more information about Kyushu, this itinerary, or to watch another video, click the links on the screen now, or head over to Japan-Guide.com, your comprehensive, up-to-date travel guide, first-hand from Japan Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell for more videos about Japan Happy travels