North Kyushu 3 Days Itinerary

View from Yufuin No Mori

Kyushu Island is one of the less explored islands in Japan, especially for tourists. In fact, like any other island in Japan, Kyushu has a lot of potentials especially the natural beauties.

The good thing for tourists, Japan Rail Corporation provides JR Kyushu Pass which much cheaper than JR Pass Japan Wide Area. There are several JR Kyushu Pass such as All Kyushu area Pass, Northern Kyushu Area Pass, Southern Area Pass which available for 3 days and 5 days Pass.

Since I only have 3 days on a long weekend and want to explore the northern Kyushu area, I booked 3 Days Northen Kyushu Area Pass which covering major stations: Hakata (Fukuoka), Kumamoto, Oita (including Yufuin) and Nagasaki. Even during 3 Days, I don't have time left to visit the famous Nagasaki. 

However, JR Pass coverage in Kyushu Island is a bit different from JR at Honshu Island. Most of the city networks in Kyushu are using subway, tram or buses that did not cover by JR. That's why, even if we buy JR Pass, we will need to buy a city pass such Fukuoka City Pass to cover major subway and bus system.

Day 1 Fukuoka City Tour

I flew from Seoul to Fukuoka and arrived at FUK Airport in the morning. The first thing I bought  is Fukuoka Tourist City Pass that sold by JTB Travel at the Airport. The City Pass is a one-day unlimited transportation pass covering bus, subway, trains, and ferries. To ride the bus or subway, it is worked just like JR Pass, we need to show at the Officer at the gate for the subway or to the bus driver when we get off.

I ride the bus from FUK Airport to the Hakata Station using the Pass. Once I arrived at Hakata Station, I need to activate my JR voucher and booked trains for the next day. I booked the famous Yufuin No Mori train to Yufuin and on the same day, I will be back from Yufuin to Kumamoto. On the third day, I will depart from Kumamoto to Hakata. 

As I said, I really love to go to Nagasaki, if only I have another day because the distance from Yufuin to Nagasaki is quite far away.

 Fukuoka itself very famous among South Korean and Chinese Tourists due to the close proximity of its cities. It is only 200 km away from Busan and there are direct ferries between two cities. In Addition, Fukuoka is also close to Shanghai. That's why, even Fukuoka is not a very big city, there are a lot of International branded stores and huge department stores with tax-free outlet. So, If you love shopping, you don't need to be scared of being unable to shop, there are many shopping malls. Even Hakata Station is huge and full of stores.

The must-visit destination in Fukuoka during Autumn is Maizuru Park and Ohori Park. These Parks lie side by side near to the ruins of Fukuoka Castle.

Huge Ginkgo Tree near to Ruins of Fukuoka Castle
The complex of Maizuru and Ohori Park is so huge with a big lake in the center. During the autumn day, everything is so calm and relaxing by only sit on the bench looking for eagle hunting for fishes.
Maizuru Lake with overlooking the mountains
Observation Area from the Ruins
Walking from the lake to the Castle ruins area, we can see a lot of huge Ginkgo trees and its yellow fallen leaves. The Fukuoka Castle Ruins is literally just ruins, only gates, and foundation that lefts. But it still worth to enjoy, we can climb to the foundation and overlook the Fukuoka City from the bird-eye view.
Autumn Flowers at Maizuru Park
Since this year's autumn season is confusing, I can see a lot of Sakura Trees has shed their leaves in the park, meanwhile some of Ginkgo Trees at their peaks.

How to get there from Hakata Station: Take the subway Kuko Line and get off at Ohorikoen Station.

After visiting both Parks, our next destination is little Park that famous for its Japanese pond, Yusentei Park. Yusentei established in the middle of the 17th century, and it became public at the end of the 19th century.  There are two main ways to enjoy Koyo in Yusentei. First, you can just walk around the garden and see the reflection of graceful autumn leaves on the lake. Second, you can go to Ohirome Hall, where you will see a traditional Japanese garden from inside.

Reflection on the lake of Yusentei Park
 If you really love Japan-style Park, I think Yusentei is one of the most beautiful Park even it is not too big like any other park in Japan. Look how calm the water and the weather in the Park, I think you will understand why Japanese Garden rewarded as one of the best in the World.

How to Get there: From Ohori Park, take bus no. 94. It is also covered by City Pass.

My Next Destination is looking for several Japan-goods at BIC Camera Tenjin. So I went to the Tenjin Shopping center area in which huge shopping centers both underground and on the ground. Many international brands have a flagship stores here, and the most interesting is underground area where you may find local goods that not to be sold at any other area.

Chrismast Market at Tenjin
Since most shops close at 8 p.m, from Tenjin, I still have time left to go to Fukuoka Tower. Fukuoka Tower is also TV Tower, the sister of Tokyo Tower, Sapporo Tower and etc. Fukuoka Tower is a 234-meter (768 ft) tall tower located in the Momochihama area. It is the tallest seaside tower in Japan. The highest observation deck at 123m has a 360degree view of the surrounding area, the most popular time to visit is at sunset.

View from the Tower
Fukuoka Tower

Even it is popular during sunset, the night view is also a killer. To ascend, you will need to purchase a ticket 800 Yen, and when you show your Pass, they will provide a discount. The Tower will be closed at 10.00 p.m.
How to go there from Tenjin: Take bus no. W1/ 302/303 for Fukuoka Tower.

Day 2 Yufuin 

Like I told you million times before, I am avid fans of the train ride, that's why when I read about Yufuin No Mori, I am getting excited. Yufuin No Mori is a limited Express train that runs from Hakata Station to Oita via Yufuin. 

Yufuin itself is a small beautiful city in the valley of Mount Yufu which popular for Onsen Bath among the locals. For the avid fans of Ghibli, you will be ecstatic to visit Yufuin Floral Village.

Yufuin No Mori Train

 The reason why Yufuin no Mori is so popular during Autumn (that I can't get the morning ticket due to fully booked), is the spectacular view of Mountains, valley, waterfalls, and rows of pines trees. The 2.5 hours journey will feel so short due to the scenery.

View Like This in Your Train Window
Or this
Since my camera is not in good condition, it is cannot justify the beauty of my train window at that time. I arrived at Yufuin almost dark and rush to go to Kinrin Lake, one of the most beautiful lake views I ever saw.

Kinrin Lake
Autumn from Kinrin Lake
Afterward, I walked to  Yufuin Floral Village. Even the size is very small, still, this village is very beautiful, especially for Ghibli Lovers.

Kiki's Bakery

 Since most of the shops and restaurants closed at 17.30, I wandered around in the dark city until I found Michellin Starred restaurant, Yufuin Wasaku served black local wagyu called  Bungo Beef. Maybe if I have time, I will explain later at the separated post about the deliciousness of Japan Wagyu Beef that insanely delicious, not only Kobe Beef.

Even it is Michellin Starred, but the price is considerably based on the taste and location. This restaurant is a total lifesaver since no other restaurant opened that night.

I took the last train to Kurume and changed to Shinkansen depart for Kumamoto. Almost midnight, I arrived at Kumamoto in the middle of the rain :D

So Photogenic (the Lake)
 Day 3 Kumamoto

One of Gate Keep at Kumamoto Castle
What is in your mind when you hear about Kumamoto? Yes, the Kumamoto Castle. Kumamoto Castle is one of the largest castle complexes in Japan. Kumamoto Castle is also regarded as one of Japan's Top Castle.

For those who read Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa will closely familiar to Kumamoto Castle that during the last years before Musashi's death, he lived at Kumamoto Castle and involved a duel when he finally defeated.

Well, yes, that simple my love for literature that I feel so attached to the history and setting.

Unfortunately, the castle sustained damage in a magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck on 14 April 2016, in Mashiki town in Kumamoto prefecture.  A stone wall at the foot of the keep partially collapsed, and several of the castle's shachihoko ornaments fell from the roof of the keep and broke apart. It sustained further extensive damage the next day on 15 April following a 7.3 magnitude earthquake where some portions were completely destroyed.

Started from June 2016, the restoration work has begun that made the opening days for the castle is limited and most of the area is closed for public.

Restoration on going

Autumn at the PArk in Kumamoto Castle

Well, I am a sucker for history that's why I really love to visit Kumamoto Castle and saw with my own eyes the effect of the earthquake.
The castle debris

How to go there: Most area in the Kumamoto is covered by Trem ways. You can buy Kumamoto one day Pass to save. From Kumamoto Station take A line Trem and get off at Kumamoto Castle.

 My next destination is one of the famous Japanese Park, Suizenji Jouen Park. This park is also famous for the Japanese garden style with ponds, neat cut, and bonsai of pines trees.

Autumn at Suizenji Jouen Park

Torii Gate at the Park

Koi Pond

The 'clean' cut of Japanese Garden

How to Go there: From Kumamoto Castle take Tram Line A and get off at Shiritsutaiikukan Mae station and then walk for 300 meters.

From the Park, I went to the shopping area at Shimotori Shotengai to have a lunch and walk around before departing to  Hakata Station via shinkansen.

At Hakata Station, since it is very famous for Hakata-style Ramen but surely contain porks,  don't be sad for Muslim travelers like me, you can try no pork-ramen Toriden at Hakata station. The taste is not as good as Ichiran but at least in Fukuoka, you should try the ramen, right?

Well, I wish I have more time to explore any other cities or even Fukuoka itself. And if you love train ride like me, you will be amazed that there are lot of special train at Kyushu area including the seven stars train that as expensive as the famous Orient Express!!!

See you at another journey!


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