Top 5 Reasons why you should self drive in Kyushu – 8 days – Itinerary Summary

This itinerary include :

  • Old Town – Yufuin
  • Characters shop – Totoro & friends – Japanese animation
  • Themed Park – Sanrio Hormonyland Oita
  • Fun Rides – Ferris Wheel Amuran in Kagoshima City
  • Hot Spring – Beppu “HELL” colorful hot spring for viewing only
  • Beach – Miyazaki
  • Shrine – Udo Shrine/鵜戸神宮
  • Ocean – Great Pacific Ocean drive
  • Statue – Sun Messe Nichinan – Moai Statues
  • Mini Patting Zoo – Mizayaki Sun Messe Nichinan
  • Animal Feeding Zoo – Aso Farmland
  • Farm – Takachiho Farm Kirishima & Aso Farmland
  • Sand Bath – Ibusuki
  • Japanese Garden – Sengan-en Garden
  • Tradition – Japanese Tea Ceremony experience
  • Sea Transport – Ferry to Sakurajima
  • Volcano – Sakurajima
  • Castle – Kumamoto Castle
  • University – Kumamoto University
  • Ski Mountain – Mount Aso
  • War History – Nagasaki Heiwa Peace Park
  • Museum – Saga Space & Science Museum

One Round of Kyushu Island, Japan – Self Drive with rental car

1. Why self drive in Kyushu?

Kyushu Island is located at the southern Island of Japan, about the size of Taiwan.  It is one of the best place to do self drive in Japan.  Driving in Kyushu Island is similar to driving in Australia, the roads are quite spacious and not many cars.  If you are first timer and don’t know where to start, you can try out Kyushu Japan.  In total there are 7 Prefectures in Kyushu, you should be able to cover within a week.

2. Who should do self Drive?

If you have a pax of 4 and above or have young children and grandparents, it is wise to rent a car and drive around freely.  It is harder to do free and easy with young and old in the family, I can’t imagine how you going to bring all the luggage from the Japan train station platform, some do not have elevator, only stairs.

3. Cheaper Cost if you have pax of 4 and above!

Self Drive is cheaper than going with the big group of tour.  Check out the price at .  It depends on what kind of car you are renting.  A normal 5 seater Mazda 3 sedan cost less than USD 70 per day.  There are cheaper or more expensive car depend on your needs and budget.  Taxi cost a bomb and train and subway and buses are not cheap in Japan.

4. Flexibility & Adventurous!

  • See the thing you want to see!
  • Eat the thing you like to eat!
  • Plan your own date of travel!
  • Choose your own hotel depending on your budget and liking!

You can stop anywhere and anytime you feel like.  Plan your own routes. You won’t be dragged to shop if shopping is not your thing.  If you are on a package tour, you have no choice but to follow and spend hours in the shopping area.  You can try out any food in any restaurant at anytime if you have the flexibility of your own car.

5. Go to places that local people usually go!

You get to shop at the shopping center or supermarkets which local people go, prices are normally cheaper and more variety and more authentic stuff you get.  We stop daily to get our stuff at supermarket, be it snacks, drinks, food & souvenirs!

Some other hidden gem which tour coaches can’t reach you can always do it with self drive.

Kyushu 1 – Oita Prefecture – A quiet getaway in Yufuin/湯布院

  • Fukuoka Airport to Hakata City
  • Fukuoka to Yufuin
  • Enokiya Ryokan in Yufuin
  • Things to do in Yufuin
  • Donguri nomori in Yufuin – Totoro & friends
  • Japanese Post Box
  • Type of Umbrella Shops in Yufuin
  • Japanese Chopsticks & Lunch Box Shop in Yufuin
  • Old Train in the park in Yufuin
  • Dinner in Yufuin

Self Drive in Kyushu 2 : Sanrio Hormony Land and Hells of Beppu – Summary

  • Sanrio Hormonyland in Oita
  • Beppu Hell
    1. Kamado Jigoku / Cooking Pot Devil Hell –  Devil standing on top of the pond
    2. Umi Jigoku/ Sea Hell – biggest and color is cobalt blue,most recommeded!
    3. Chinoike Jigoku/ Blood Pond Hell  – Red color pond
  • Steam your own dinner at Jigokumushikobo – must Try!
  • Onsenkaku Ryokan Inn

Self Drive in Kyushu 3 : Is Miyazaki City not Easter Island! Summary

  • Beppu to Miyazaki
  • Rest Area on highway to Miyazaki
  • Miyazaki City  
  • Different between Shrines and Temples in Japan
  • Attraction 1  : Udo Shrine/Udo Shrine/鵜戸神宮
  • Breathtaking view of Great Pacific Ocean from Udo Shrines 
  • Shrine that pray for easy childbirth and Happy marriage 
  • Attraction 2 : Sun Messe Nichinan – In Miyazaki
  • Butterfly garden in Sun Messe Nichinan
  • Rental Buggy car only for Japanese Driving Licence 
  • Colorful but bored looking Salaryman 
  • Spot the difference between the replica and Orginal Moai Statues
  • Animal patting 
  • Dinner is Gyudon/牛丼
  •  Hotel Route Inn Miyazaki-Aoshima

Japan Self Drive in Kyushu 4 – Kagoshima Prefecture : Kirishima Summary

  • Miyazaki City to Kirishima – how far?  1.5 – 2 hr
  • Kirishima (霧島) 
  • Takachiho Farm in Kirishima
  • Our Rental Car – Mazda – how much does it cost?
  • Kirishima Town
  • Quiet Town before entering the Kirishima Shrine
  • Home cook charcoal BBQ Chicken in Takachiho area
  • Kirishima Royal Hotel

Japan Self Drive in Kyushu 5 : Kagoshima Prefecture, Kagoshima City & Sakurajima

  • Kirishima to Kagoshima City – How far?
  • Kagoshima/鹿児島 highlight
  • Sand bath at Ibusuki
  • Student Lunch in Kagoshima City
  • Kagoshima Ramen noodles 
  • Sengan-en Garden/仙巌園
  • Bamboo Forest in Sengan-en Garden
  • Japanese Tea Ceremony at the Iso Residence in Sengan-en Garden
  • Ferris Wheel Amuran in Kagoshima City
  • Ferry to Sakurajima 
  • Ferry cost Kagoshima –  Sakurajima
  • Sakurajima Valcano/桜島
  • Free & Natural Volcano Facial Mask in Sakurajima
  • Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Kagoshima – Resort

Japan Self Drive in Kyushu 6 – Kumamoto Prefecture : Kumamoto Castle and Kumamoto University

  • Kagoshima to Kumamoto – How far?
  • Kumamoto /熊本 – Bear origin
  • Kumamoto Castle – 3rd Largest Castle in Japan
  • Were there any female samurai?
  • Key Features of Kumamoto Castle
  • Kumamoto is a Bonchi/盆地 
  • Okonomiyaki at Daimonji /大文字
  • Kumamoto University – The RED GATE/Akamon
  • Kumamoto University Dormitory
  •  Green Rich Hotel Suizenji

Japan Self Drive in Kyushu 7 & 8 -Kumamoto Prefecture : Kumamoto Aso, the largest volcano in Japan : Summary

  • Kumamoto City – Mount Aso
  • Aso Milk Road & Aso Panorama Line
  • Making midget snow man in Mount Aso
  • Aso Farmland
  • Capybara
  • Flamingos
  • Llama
  • More animals at the indoor patting zoo
  • Guinea pig and rabbits
  • Chameleon
  • Aso Farm Land Resort – Igloo style of accomodation
  • Nagasaki Heiwa Peace Park 
  • Saga Space & Science Museum
  • Hakata Green Hotel Building No.2

Food Guide :

  • Hakata Ramen – popular noodles in southern island of Japan. The broth is made from pork bones called kurobuta or black pork.
  • Champon – Try Nagasaki Champon, originated from a Chinese students who studied in Japan during the Meiji era. Similar to ramen.
  • Sasebo Burger –  bacon and fried eggs and massive ground chicken burgers made with poultry from the Kyushu region
  • Basashi / Raw Horse sashimi – If you dare, dip with soya sauce and ginger.  (Sorry horse, I wont eat you and I am not going to try)
  • Mentaiko – spicy version of salted cod roe (tarako)
  • Motsunabe – Hot pot dish
  • Karashi Renkon – Kumamoto specialty, dish made by filling the holes of a lotus root with a mixtureof Japanese chili, miso and dry roasted bean curb lees, then deep frying the lotus root.
  • Ika Shumai – squid dumpling from Saga Prefecture.
  • Tonkatsu – Tonkatsu is a stample dish in Japanese cuisine but try in Kagoshima as it uses Kurobuta or black pork – after deep fried, you will experience the crisp texture, softness and storn taste.
  • Dessert – Ikinari Dango is a red bean mochi.

5 Tips to do Self Drive in Kyushu Island Japan

  1. Driver seat on the right hand side, same as all commonwealth countries.
  2. Get ready your international driving licence from your home country.
  3. Book the car in
  4. Get your mobile roaming plan, in case you need to use google map from mobile phone or GPS is not working properly.
  5. If you have GPS, it is always wise to bring your own in case car rental company do not provide.  Note, not all car rental company has GPS.

You may also like other self drive destination :

I have affiliate program with the following booking website, so please click at your preference booking website here to check the hotels or airbnb you like to stay for your Japan Kyushu Island trip.

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40 Replies to “Top 5 Reasons why you should self drive in Kyushu – 8 days – Itinerary Summary”

  1. I think self driving can be a great idea, mostly because you end up really experiencing the whole trip in another way… You get to interiorize the place and the roads and it’s just way cooler!

    1. Dear Garrile,
      Thanks for your comment. Self drive will bring you to the place you wanted to go faster. Driving is easier in Kyushu island Japan as compared to Tokyo. Similar to driving in Australia !

    1. Dear aritheamateur,

      Japan has so much to offer, totally different culture from the west. Even me from Asia like it so much! You will enjoy for sure 🙂

  2. I think a road trip is always going to be a great option but you outlined some really handy facts that would sway anyone. It really looks like a gorgeous place

  3. I love road trips! they are always a great way to discover a country and see what you would usually not see in guided tours!

    1. Dear Corinne and Kirsty
      That’s right, some of the places may not be able to reach by the guided tours. You have more flexibility!

  4. Fabulous travel guide! I like that you can go st your own pace and tailor it to your needs and what you want to see.

    Nicole Vick

    1. Dear acupofassamtea,
      Thank you for your comment. I hope the Kyushu round the Island road trip will help other see Japan, other than just Tokyo city.

    1. Dear Nati,
      Self driving is great for family with young children! There are also many theme fun park in Japan which are great for young children too. 🙂

  5. Such a beautiful place it is, Japan is on the top of my bucket list. Thank you for this helpful post that I can look forward to when planning my trip, bookmarking this.

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing ur travel itenarary. Could I check when the Kyushu trip was made? And do u think it’s worth it to go both Aso Farmland and takachiho ranch?

    1. Dear Ninjiom,
      It depend, if you are traveling with small children, it is worth to go. But if you just like to choose one, then go Aso san as there are more interative animals for the children to feed and touch, those animals are pretty nice to human, non aggressive. I love the capybara in Aso farmlands, so adorable and running around. The Kyushu self drive was done about 3 years ago, covering all the prefectures in Kyushu Island.

    1. Dear Nicholas,
      Thanks for asking.
      It if is snowing, you may need snow tires and chain. Do check with car rental company and tell them you are going up to Mount Aso. It can be quite foggy in the end of Dec. You may want to consider staying in Aso Farm Land Resort (Igloo house). The onsen there looks super fun and plenty of activities to do around. I love the animal farm as there are many animals walking around for you to pat. The Capybara is super cute. I regretted not staying there for a night so I have more time to play around. I needed to leave at around 4plus to Kumamoto city before it gets too dark.

  7. Hello, you rented the car from Day 1 until the end of your trip? I will be going to Kyushu for 9D8N trip in mid-March 2019 with my wife and my 2-year old kid. I don’t know if I should rent a car. We would like to visit Kumamoto, Mt Aso, Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki and Kagoshima.

    1. Dear Johny,

      Thanks for your questions. I would highly recomending you to rent a car since you have a 2 year old boy. It is worth to do it since you are visiting quite a few places in Kyushu. About 4-5 Prefectures. I guess you are landing in Fukuoka airport. Your trip look like a round trip of Kyushu Island 🙂 Pretty cool.

      I would suggest you to have a stay near Mt Asa farm. The animal is great for kids as animals are running around and all very tame. Children can feed them. I love the Capybara!

      Driving in Japan is pretty easy, especially in Kyushu island, similar to Australia Perth if you have done Australia road trip. Another tips to look at when renting a car is, getting the hybrid car. Last month my trip to Osaka and Shikoku Island was with Hybrid car and I only have to pump petrol once for my 8 days trip which save a lot of time and money. If you used hybrid cars before then you may know the difference. 🙂

      There are many good reason to use renting car since you have a young kid. You can even stop at supermarket and do your shopping for good ready made food. Usually there is a big car park outside the supermarket.

      Check out my supermarket review for your reference :

      Please also visit the highway rest area as they offer more than toilets and food. You may want to do some reseach which are the top rest area in Kyushu. Below is one of my review for Shikoku region highway rest area for your reference.

      If you need further information, please don’t hesitate to ask. 🙂

      Yes, renting a car for the whole 9 days is a better choice since you are going to so many prefectures in Kyushu.

      1. Thanks very much for your reply and tips! I was comparing a non-hybrid car (Mazda 3 Hatchback) versus a hybrid Toyota Prius. The Toyota Prius costs 13k Yen more in rental fee. I am not really sure whether it is really worth paying 13k Yen more in rental fee just for a hybrid? What do you think? How much is a litre of petrol in Kyushu if you remember? I am also trying to find out the cost of parking in Kyushu if you still remember?

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