Looking for a different side of Japan? Welcome to Kyushu, the third largest of Japan's main islands. On this trip, you'll learn about Nagasaki's role in the country's history of isolation, walk through the eerie streets of Gunkanjima, and admire the resilience of Kumamoto as it bounces back from the 2016 earthquake. This tailor-made itinerary showcases the best of Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Yakushima, and more. Stunning natural wonders await in beautiful Takachiho Gorge, the oft-smoking Sakurajima volcano off the coast of Kagoshima, and UNESCO World Heritage Yakushima renowned for its ancient sugi (cedar) and mystical moss covered paths. This journey distills the finest Kyushu has to offer so you can make the most of your time on this enchanting island.
A private car and driver will be waiting for you on arrival at Fukuoka Airport to take you to your hotel. Journey time is around 20 minutes. (This service is on a private basis.)
We have also included the rental of a mobile WiFi device for you, which will be delivered to your first hotel. This means that you can enjoy the ease and comfort of having WiFi on the move and at all of your accommodations, which will make it a breeze to stay in touch with friends or browse the internet on your smartphone or laptop! The wi-fi can be shared with up to 10 devices. We have also included full insurance for you, in case of any loss or damage. At the end of your stay, you will simply return the device in the pre-paid envelope provided. The internet provider for your WiFi device is AU. This has wide coverage across Japan, including most small islands and rural areas. There is unlimited data usage.
Fukuoka has recently become a very attractive destination for both foreign and Japanese tourists. This is a modern city on the rise and is fast gaining a reputation for its culture, entertainment and future thinking. Fukuoka boasts the country's largest hotel, longest bar, biggest cinema complex and the most advanced baseball stadium and the stunning architecture of "Canal City" is well worth a few hours exploration. This is a complex containing a hotel, cinemas, and shopping built around a semi-circular strip of water.
If you are after something more traditional then head to the Hakata Machiya Folk Museum which contains folk crafts for which the city is famous. Try the local delicacy at your own risk! Fugu or blow fish is the poisonous fish that is served throughout Japan but is most delicious and cheapest in this area. Chefs must be specially trained to prepare this fish but several people still die each year from poisoning. If Fugu doesn't take your fancy then try a snack from one of the many Yatai street vendors.
After breakfast, you will have a full day tour of Fukuoka by public transport with a private guide. Your guide will come to your accommodation at around 9:00 AM and take you on a tour that will encompass some of the more famous sights but also some lesser known places of interest. With a knowledgeable local by your side you will be set for a great day in this amazing city and are sure to discover things that you might otherwise miss.
Please let us know in advance if there are any sights you particularly wish to see, or areas of interest you have, as we can pass this information on to the guide for you. Your day of guiding will finish at around 5:00 PM either back at your accommodation or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
From the Hakata station in Fukuoka, a leather-seated Ltd Express train will takes you along a scenic journey to Nagasaki city. You will pass through rural and seaside towns on this comfortable and scenic ride. Travel time is just under 2 hours.
Often described as one of the most picturesque cities in Japan, Nagasaki's position near the sea and the geography of the area makes this town very appealing. Nagasaki has a cosmopolitan atmosphere and it has a lot to offer for a relaxing few days in this part of Japan. Of course Nagasaki is mainly famous for being the target of the second atomic bomb at the end of World War Two. The A bomb hypocenter and the nearby museum are well worth a visit and essential if you are to understand the history of the area.
Nagasaki was for many years the only city in Japan to be open to the West and you can see evidence of this throughout the city. There are shrines, temples, Catholic churches and European style buildings; something that you will rarely find in other areas of Japan. At night, you can get great views from Inasa-yama which has a cable car which takes you up the 330m hill. The local specialty is shippoku which combines European, Chinese and Japanese food in lots of small dishes eaten around a round table. Other local foods include chanpon (seafood, meat and vegetables with noodles) and sara udon (similar to chanpon but with a thicker sauce).
In order to truly get to grips with Nagasaki’s fascinating history, we have arranged a local professional guide to take you around the city today. Highlights in Nagasaki include Glover Gardens, Dejima Trading Post, Chinatown, the Spectacles Bridge and the Peace Park & Museum.
Your guide will meet you at the hotel around 9:00 AM this morning, or any other time you may prefer. Of course, they will have plenty of suggestions and ideas on how to spend the day, however the schedule of activities is entirely up to you. Please note that entrance fees and local transportation costs are not included and will need to be paid for on the day of your tour. (This service is on a private basis.)
A small island off the coast of Nagasaki, Gunkanjima (or 'Battle Ship Island') has a fascinating history. After coal was discovered on the island, managers, workers and their families flocked to Gunkanjima in search of riches. With one half of the island occupied by the mine, a self-sufficient society was established on the other half including shops, schools, a public bath, and a hospital, until Gunkanjima became the most densely populated island in the world. However in 1974 the mine was suddenly closed and the island was abandoned in some haste for reasons still unknown...
For years nobody set foot on the island and since the evacuation it was left at the mercy of typhoons, causing the buildings to deteriorate and crumble. Now all that remains are eerie shells of the huge buildings that once housed the island’s dense population, creating a haunting atmosphere. Gunkanjima is said to be the inspiration behind the villain Raoul Silva’s lair in the 2012 Bond film Skyfall. Recently sightseeing tours to Gunkanjima have become available, enabling people to see this compelling piece of Japanese history up close.
Today’s cruise will take around 4 hours, and you will be able to set foot on the island in pre-designated sightseeing spots (further access to the island is not permitted due to fears of further building collapse.) The cruise will also complete a circuit of the island so you can see it from all angles. You will be in a large boat of up to 130 people, and free English audio guides are available. Please note that in the event of bad weather the cruise will be unable to run.
From Nagasaki you will take a direct Ltd Express train to Hakata station in Fukuoka. En-route look out the Huis Ten Bosch Dutch styled theme park! The 153km journey takes just under 2 hours.
You will be taking the Shinkansen from Hakata to Kumamoto. The journey will take about 45 minutes. You will be going through the mountainous countryside before you arrive at the castle town of Kumamoto.
It’s well worth spending half a day exploring Kumamoto Castle. Built more than 400 years ago by the warlord Kato Kiyomasa, the castle was considered impregnable in its time due to it many innovative defensive designs. Large parts of the castle were destroyed however, in Japan’s last civil war in 1877, when an army of former samurai unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the new Meiji government. Today’s castle is a faithful reconstruction and is one of the largest castles in Japan. Also of interest in Kumamoto is the beautiful mountain style garden at Suizen-ji Temple and brave foodies may wish to try the local specialty: raw horse meat!
Today you'll have a car and driver along with your guide to comfortably take you the 1.5~2-hour ride out to Takachiho and back, giving you complete flexibility once you're in the area.
Takachiho is located in the north-western part of Miyazaki Prefecture, in the center of the Kyushu Mountains. The Takachiho Gorge is a V-shaped gorge, created by the Gokase-gawa River, which eroded the Mt. Aso lava trail. Red-tinted precipitous cliffs rising up on both sides of the gorge extend for a long distance. Manai-no-Taki Falls, 17 meters high, is a popular highlight because of the clouds of spray that rise up from the falling water. The gorge has a 600-meter long walking trail, which is decorated with mountain cherry blossoms and the flowers of Japanese azaleas and wisteria from spring till early summer, and red and yellow leaves in fall. Takachiho also is one of the most sacred places in Japan. There are many interesting sightseeing spots connected to the myths associated with the area, including Takachiho-Jinja Shrine, Kunimi-ga-oka Hill, and Amano-iwato-Jinja Shrine. (This service is on a private basis.)
From Kumamoto you will head south, around 180km to Kagoshima. Journey time is just under an hour on the Shinkansen.
Dubbed the "Naples of Japan", Kagoshima is an attractive city dominated by Sakurajima, a volcanic island only a short ferry ride away. Outside of this famous smoldering mountain, there are still plenty of sites to see in the city center, including pristine landscaped gardens and historic museums. However, if hot lava is more your thing, you can take a bus tour to Sakurajima, to learn more about the volcano and explore the informative visitor center. There are also a number of days trips possible from Kagoshima, such as hiking in the Kirishima National Park, soaking in the baths of Ibusuki, visiting the traditional homes and gardens of Chiran, or sampling some local beer and shochu at the Mejiguru Brewery.
Explore the amazing Kagoshima today! You’ll have the services of a local professional guide today. The guide will ensure you get the most out of your time in Kagoshima while revealing the culture and history of the city. You can also take a trip across the bay to Sakurajima, the very active volcano.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel at 9:00 AM (or any time you choose). Together you'll travel around Kagoshima by public transport. Please note you will need to pay for transport, lunch and any entrance fees on the day. Your day of guiding will finish at 5:00 PM with the guide either dropping you back at your hotel or anywhere else in the city you wish to spend the evening. (This service is on a private basis.)
The journey from Kagoshima will be by Jetfoil and takes 2hrs 40 mins. There are two ferries a day to Anbo port in the south-east of the Island, leaving at 10:20 AM and 4:00 PM.
A member of the Sankara staff will be waiting to greet you as you arrive in Yakushima and then take you in a private car to the hotel. The journey will take around 25 minutes from Anbo Port. (This service is on a private basis.)
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Yakushima Island is famed for its giant Japanese cedar trees. Isolated from the mainland and featuring a unique terrain and climate, Yakushima is truly one of Japan's natural wonders. The best way to explore the dramatic landscapes and ancient cedar trees are through the region's popular hiking trails. Accompanied by indigenous monkeys and local deer, you can stroll through the very same forests that inspired the famous animator, Hayao Miyazaki, to create his epic masterpiece, "Princess Mononoke". Other attractions on the coastline include sandy beaches, hot spring baths and fascinating sea life.
Ride the Seibu Rindoh Forest Path, a coastal road which follows the western side of Yakushima. This ride is anywhere from 25km to 50km, depending on where you start and finish, with numerous pick-up points along the way should you wish to stop early. This ride can be anywhere from 3 to 7 hours depending on which stops you make and the photos you take.
You will be picked up from your accommodation and drive down to the start of the ride. Along the way, your driver will point out things of interest and even stop at a couple of breathtaking waterfalls for some photo opportunities. Once geared up, you will be given some instructions on the bike and road rules (if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese road system), then you're off! You'll be riding by yourselves but you have a support van with you the whole way which can make as many or few stops for you as you wish.
The ride goes through Yakushima World Heritage forest and is nothing short of stunning. This ride is all about stopping to smell the flowers, so there are no rush or time limits besides nightfall. We have included a meal midway so you don`t have to worry about energy levels. There are almost always Yaku-Macaque island monkeys on this path, and they are usually more than willing to provide both good entertainment and photos for you. At the end of the ride, there is a beautiful onsen option for those who want to clean up straight after the ride. All your gear is brought along by the support van, so you can bring what you like. Drop-off back at your accommodation is included. (This service is on a private basis.)
Yakusugiland is a great way to experience Yakushima if you only have a small amount of time but want a hike that experiences true mountain trails without going deep into the island.
There are a number of trails and today you will be taking the Kohana course, a fantastic moderate hike that has a little bit of everything. Your half day adventure that takes in some beautiful forest, swing bridges and Yakusugi (ancient Yakushima cypress trees). Some good balance is required as there are a few wooden ladders to negotiate. You will be accompanied by an experienced local hiking guide for the hike. You will need solid shoes or boots, a waterproof jacket, 1-liter capacity water carrier, and a small day pack. Pick up and drop off at your hotel is included. (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning, you will head back to Fukuoka for your last day in Japan. You will be transferred from Sankara to Anbo Port. (This service is on a private basis.)
The journey from Anbo Port will be by Jetfoil and take 2hrs 40 mins. There are two ferries a day to Kagoshima, leaving at 7.00am and 13:30 pm. Upon arrival, you will take a train from Kagoshima to Fukuoka (Hakata).
You will have the rest of the day free at your leisure!
Unfortunately, your journey through Japan must come to an end today. We have arranged a private taxi service from your hotel to Fukuoka Airport, so you can end your adventure in comfort and style. This ride will be about 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. You will be dropped off directly at the door of the Fukuoka Airport departures lobby, making for a seamless transition to your flight.
We hope you had a wonderful trip and we wish you safe and happy travels home! (This service is on a private basis.)
The Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel is a sophisticated, modern hotel bustling with activities. It has several restaurants to enjoy and is conveniently located in the heart of Fukuoka's main shopping and eating district. At the fitness center you will find a pool and sauna along with other amenities for your pleasure for about 100 yen per visit.The hotel is just a 1 minute walk from Tenjin underground station and provides easy and fast access to the Shinkansen (bullet train terminus) at Hakata and also Fukuoka airport.
In the harbor city of Nagasaki you will stay at the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Nagasaki Gloverhill. This good standard 4 star hotel is located in the Glover Hill area of Nagasaki, a ten minute taxi ride from Nagasaki station. Many sights including the Glover Hill park and Oura Catholic church are within walking distance. The hotel has excellent amenities including some excellent restaurants. Restaurant Pave offers top quality French cuisine whilst at Junkei, you can sample an exotic meal of Japanese-Chinese Fusion. If you seek to relax in the evenings, then head to Trevi, the hotel’s piano lounge. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with en-suite bathrooms.
The unique culture and deep-rooted traditions that developed after Kumamoto Castle was built are well alive today in the castle town of Kumamoto. Hotel Nikko Kumamoto is located in the center of the city, giving guests direct access to the heart and soul of the local area. The hotel is only 15 min by tram from Kumamoto Station. It's prime location near to governmental offices and shopping will make your stay easy and accessible. Kumamoto Castle is within walking distance and it's beautiful views can be seen from the hotel. Guests can dine on Japanese, French or Cantonese cuisines or make a run through the casual buffet, all of which serve seasonal delights. Nikko Hotel will provide you with a comfortable and convenient stay, so that you can enjoy Kumamoto to it's fullest.
Situated on Shiroyama hill 108 m above sea level, SHIROYAMA HOTEL Kagoshima overlooks Kagoshima City and offers commanding views of Sakurajima, the symbol of Kagoshima, and Kinko Bay. With views of Sakurajima and Kagoshima city from a height of 108 m above sea level, enjoy soaking in an outdoor onsen filled with natural hot spring water wells up from 1,000 m underground. Conveniently located 10 minutes by car from Temmonkan Shopping Street and JR Kagoshima-Chuo Station for easy access to Kagoshima spots.
By far the most luxurious accommodation on Yakushima Island, the Sankara Hotel & Spa is a beautiful resort in a gorgeous location sandwiched between steep mist covered mountains and breath taking views of the East China Sea. While the hotel is very Japanese in terms of hospitality, the Sankara's appearance is distinctly Balinese making use of Balinese teak wood, natural materials and earth tones to create a tranquil ambience in keeping with Yakushima's natural beauty. This is offset by vibrant original soft furnishings and linens that follow the pan-Asian theme. The resort offers a butler services and if there is anything you need staff will hop in a golf buggy and be at your service within minutes. Your butler will also meet you at Yakushima airport or ferry port to drive you to the hotel.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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