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|
|Maizuru Lake with overlooking the mountains|
|Observation Area from the Ruins|
|Autumn Flowers at Maizuru Park|
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|
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|
|View from the 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|
|View Like This in Your Train Window|
|Autumn from Kinrin Lake|
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)|
|One of Gate Keep at Kumamoto 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.
|Autumn at Suizenji Jouen Park|
|Torii Gate at the Park|
|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!