What to See When Cycling in Kyushu
A bicycle touring or backpacking itinerary
This article is part of our Rough Guide for budget travel in Japan. Check the first part in the link above for hints, hacks, and tricks to make your dream trip to Japan become true.
Here’s the first stage of our bicycle trip itinerary on the island Kyushu. We spent one full month and cycling Kyushu in a big loop. We think ours was an exhaustive itinerary of this beautiful island, so we decided to share it with our fellow travelers.
It contains most of the highlights and best things to do in Kyushu, at least in our opinion. This was for us a two months journey, we ride it all, bicycle touring Japan at a slow pace. It can be done way faster with any other kind of transportation.
Links in the articles bring you to the full travel journal article about each destination in Japan. Unfortunately, some of those are still only in Italian so use your translator.
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Check also part 2:
A great travel itinerary for Honshu and Shikoku
a map of our bicycle touring itinerary
Below is the map of our bicycle trip in Kyushu. It’s the complete GPS recording of the journey.
Click on the track to get the elevation profile, you can also use the search tool to find a specific location and display the GPX track of reference.
Kyushu was probably the highlight of our bicycle trip in Japan, there wasn’t a single day without saying “mamma mia che posto incredibile!” (“oh my mother, what an incredible place”). We planned a tour to see the most active volcanoes and the best part of coastline.
cycling from Fukuoka to Southern Kyushu
From Fukuoka harbour (coming by ferry from Busan, South Korea), we went down to Kumamoto crossing a small range of lush green hills. Then to Amakusa islands, a spectacular archipelago in the Ariake Sea (the big gulf of western Kyushu), mostly connected by bridges. Stunning views, quiet roads and some nice beach with crystal clear water.
From there we dropped by ferry on the island of Nagashima (ferry route Ushibuka – Kuranomoto, 750Yen, 30min) another beautiful island with stunning beaches and many weird statues of Shinto gods. Then we followed the spectacular coast and cut along a river to Kagoshima and its nervous volcano
Volcanoes of South Kyushu
Then north to the Kirishima volcanic range, nice uphill up to 1000msl with a lot of shade and water. We spot here the only wild onsen (hot spring) we saw in three months in Japan, so hot that looks like another planet.
Hiked the Kirishima and the Onami Lake, we cut through the prefecture of Miyazaki and it’s nice countryside and stunning views of the Kirishima, all the way to the east coast. Where endless beaches and a rough ocean famous for surfing (named the best Surfing spot in Japan) are to be found.
Cycling the verdant and wet northeast of Kyushu
Then inside again from Nobeoka along Gokase gorge with its big waterfalls, to Takachiho (you could also avoid this very touristic spot if you already rode the gorge, even though the admission is free). Then to Mount Aso (in Italian), the biggest volcano in Kyushu. Here there are rare Japanese pastures.
Going to Taketa we visited the inspiring shrine. It is a thousand torii shrine dedicated to the Inari (foxes god), look for the huge tori in the center of town and follow them.
Beppu and ferry to Shikoku
Then to the steaming town of Beppu (in Italian), surrounded by steep monkey crowded forest. The famous Gigoku (the Hells of Beppu) are too much touristic and with separate expensive entry fees (400Y each).
Visit the one with more ponds if you are on a budget. Anyway, if you saw the previously mentioned wild hot spring you’ll have an idea.
What makes Beppu so special is to imagine how the place would look without the town on it. Dante’s hell I think. Very close to Beppu is the town of Hiji, where you could have a silent retreat in a Zen fashion.
From here the ride to Oita is a flat good coastline until the city and the ferry jetty a little further. Here runs the cheapest ferry to Shikoku (to Misaki jetty in the Sadamisaki peninsula, can’t remember the price, not so cheap anyway).
This big loop of Kyushu took us almost one month, we went very slow (an average of 50km per day) but never been two nights in the same place.
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