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Our ‘Islands & Onsen’ tour is a 13 night self-guided trip which visits the southern island of Kyushu, blessed with emerald forests, azure seas, delicious food and friendly locals abound. Highlights of this wonderful tour include Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Yakushima & Kurokawa Onsen.
Enjoy independent travel but not the hassle of planning? One of our Independent Tours could be just the ticket. Carefully put together by our team of specialists, our excellent collection of sample itineraries are designed to inform and inspire your next Japan adventure. Every one of our Independent Tours is fully tailor made for you, ensuring your trip is everything you want it to be.
It’s quite straight forward to travel independently in Japan. We will provide just the right amount of support and logistical planning to make you feel comfortable in a very foreign land. These itineraries are available for any departure date (with a few exclusions which coinciding with Japanese National Holidays and some weekends). We’ll do all the work for you and provide you with an information pack to make your trip run smoothly. You can also add guided tours as indicated and if you do want your own personal guide we can arrange this too.
Day 1: Arrival in Japan – Fukuoka Airport
Welcome to Japan! Our friendly Meet & Greet service representative will be waiting in the Arrivals lobby and holding a sign with your name on. The Meet & Greet will direct you to the subway for the very short journey to your hotel. Check in to your clean and comfortable hotel in central Fukuoka for 1 night.
Day 2: Fukuoka to Nagasaki – Start Using Your JR Pass Today
Today you will set off by train to Nagasaki. This intriguing city has a vibrant multicultural history being one of the few cities open to foreign traders when the rest of the Japan was was closed to the outside world. Visit the Nishizaka area, home to the serene Shofuku-ji (a Zen temple) and Nagasaki’s biggest Shinto shrine Suwa-jinja. Head down the hill from here to Nagasaki’s Chinatown and on to the old Portuguese and Dutch enclaves where you can get a sense of what life was like for foreign communities in feudal Japan. Check in to your superbly located hotel for the next 2 nights.
Day 3: Nagasaki
This morning set out for Glover Garden, with its lovely nineteenth-century European villas, and the nearby Oura Church, the oldest in Japan. The ‘Dutch Slopes’ Orandazaka area is also well worth a visit. If you wish, consider a visit to the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum, the latter of which has excellent English guidance.
Day 4: Nagasaki to Kagoshima
Today you will head on to the island’s southern capital of Kagoshima. Board the train to Tosu, where you will change to the world famous Japanese Bullet Train. The journey takes around 3 hours, giving you ample time in the afternoon to start exploring the city and check in to your hotel. You will stay here for 3 nights in your clean, comfortable and centrally located hotel.
Day 5: Kagoshima
Start your stay in Kagoshima with a visit to Sakurajima Island. Sakurajima itself is an active volcano located in Kagoshima Bay which forms a spectacular backdrop. Take a bus tour or rent a bike and explore the island where you can see spectacular views of the crater and lava fields from the observatories and relax in one of the outdoor hot spring baths on the hillside.
Day 6: Kagoshima
Today take a day trip to the Satsuma Peninsula, where your first stop should be the samurai villas in the quaint village of Chiran. Move on from here to the sand baths of Ibusuki where the sandy beaches are naturally heated by steam rising from below. Lie in the hot sand and enjoy the gorgeous view across the bay to Sakurajima island.
Day 7: Kagoshima to Yakushima
Spend the morning checking out a few of the city’s other sights such as Sengan-en garden, before boarding the ferry for the verdant island of Yakushima. Check in to your comfortable and relaxing hotel for 2 nights. Dinner is included for both nights of your stay.
Day 8: Yakushima
Yakushima is renowned for being one of Japan’s most beautiful wild places, and when you see it you will believe it. Head to Shiratani Unsuikyo, home of a large number of the island’s famous yakusugi ancient indigenous cedar trees. This is the place that inspired master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. The park is accessible by bus, and is the trailhead for numerous of hikes of varying difficulty.
For serious hikers, there can be only one true objective on Yakushima – hidden in the very depths of the island’s mountainous interior, the world’s oldest tree, Jomon-sugi. If you are up for the challenge, prepare thoroughly for a 10 hour hike through the island’s spectacular and rugged interior. For true hiking enthusiasts, this simply cannot be missed.
Day 9: Yakushima to Kumamoto
Enjoy a relaxing morning in your hotel before checking out and heading back to the mainland and on to the city of Kumamoto, gateway to Kyushu’s gorgeous mountainous interior. Take a leisurely stroll around the city’s Suizenji-joujuen garden or visit the residence of Lafcadio Hearn, famous for being the first to record many of Japan’s folk tales in English. Check in to your clean and comfortable hotel in Kumamoto for one night.
Day 10: Kumamoto to Kurokawa Onsen
Today you will head into the mountains, bound for the hot spring town of Kurokawa Onsen. This quaint little town has managed to preserve its historic and peaceful atmosphere, as evidenced by its traditionally constructed buildings and abundant nature. Much of the town lies beside the winding river that flows along the valley floor, featuring many traditional shops and onsen hot spring baths that can easily be explored on foot. Check into your lovely Japanese ryokan hotel for a night, enjoy a delicious Japanese dinner (included) and relax in the onsen.
Day 11: Kurokawa Onsen to Beppu
Say goodbye to Kurokawa before heading off once more, this time to Beppu. To the Japanese, Beppu and hot springs are virtually synonymous. Visit the eight ‘hells’ of Beppu which are a collection of hot springs boasting unusual natural properties – sadly these are only for viewing but there are also plenty of other hot springs around town which you can try out. Check in to your clean and comfortable hotel for 2 nights.
Day 12: Beppu at Leisure
For a change of pace try the nearby Yufuin. Just a short train ride away, this quaint town retains a lot of traditional charm and has plenty of cafes, shops and museums making it a great day trip. Just outside the town is Lake Kinrinko, reached via a short walk through the paddy fields which should be memorable.
Day 13: Beppu to Fukuoka
This morning set off back to Fukuoka by train. The journey takes around two hours, leaving you to enjoy your final afternoon in Fukuoka. Maybe get some last minute shopping done in the stylish Canal City shopping centre, visit Ohori Park, or once the sun sets try one of the famous yatai riverside streetfood stalls – a great place to try the famous local tonkotsu style ramen. Check in to your hotel in Hakata for 1 night.
Day 14: Depart Japan– Fukuoka Airport
Fukuoka, the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture, sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island. It’s known for its ancient temples, beaches and modern shopping malls, including Canal City. Its expansive Fukuoka Art Museum lies within tranquil Ohori Park, and neighbouring Maizuru Park contains ruins of the 17th-century Fukuoka Castle. Fukuoka is the birthplace of Tonkotsu ramen which has recently gained great popularity in the West – enjoy it in the way it was first conceived at one of Fukuoka’s riverside street food ‘yatai’ stalls.
Nagasaki is a pretty city on the island of Kyushu. Well known to many as the second target for the atomic bomb however this is not all that Nagasaki has to offer. The city has a slightly different feel to many other Japanese cities as it has had over two centuries of contact with Chinese, British, Dutch and Portuguese at a time when the rest of Japan was closed off to the world. You will be able to see the influences of various cultures around Nagasaki such as the European style houses and Catholic Churches in Glover Gardens (pictured)- the supposed setting for Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. For something a bit different, take a day trip from Nagasaki to the resort town of Huis Ten Bosch which is a replica of an old Dutch town.
Kagoshima, a seaside city on Japan’s Kyushu Island, is the capital of Kagoshima Prefecture. It’s best known for Sakurajima, an active volcano that faces Kinko Bay. At its base, the Nagisa Lava Trail leads to lava boulders and pine trees. Once set on an isolated island, the volcano became connected to the Osumi Peninsula after an eruption in 1914.
Yakushima known for its wildlife and cedar forests. In the northwest is Nagata Inaka-hama, a beach with seasonal loggerhead turtle nesting grounds. The central Mt. Miyanoura is marked by the Arakawa trail and the ancient Jōmon Sugi tree. In the east, Yakusugi Museum has exhibits about the region’s cedar forests. The western shore is home to towering Ōko-no-taki waterfall.
Kumamoto is a lively town on Kyushu’s west coast and a gateway to the island’s picturesque, mountainous interior. Famous spots include the lovely garden Suizenji Jojuen and the residence of eminent writer and Japanologist Lefcadio Hearn. Look out for Japan’s most famous mascot character Kumamon, the rosy-cheeked black bear.
Kurokawa Onsen is one of the most attractive hot spring towns in Japan, located in the middle of Kyushu. Kurokawa’s townscape is dominated by natural colours and materials, wooden buildings, earthen walls, stone stairs and a river flowing through. The town’s lanes are lined by ryokan, public bath houses, attractive shops and cafes, a small shrine and bridges that lead over the river directly to ryokan entrances. A walk through town is particularly enjoyable in yukata and geta sandals provided by one’s ryokan.
Beppu is a city and spa resort on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Set between Beppu Bay and volcanic mountains, it is home to more than 2,000 onsen (hot springs). Kannawa Onsen district has facilities for bathing in nutrient-rich water, mud and sand. The 8 Hells of Beppu – 6 in Kannawa, 2 in outlying Shibaseki – are dramatic landscapes of thermal pools. To the west is Mount Tsurumi, accessible by cable car.
To find out more, call one of our specialists now on 020 7766 5267.
This luxury property is perfectly situated in the Hakata district of Fukuoka, with easy access to the train station, airport and Tenjin entertainment district. The hotel itself is connected to the Canal City shopping complex, which offers a wide range of shopping and eating options.
Of course, the hotel has many of its own restaurants and bars too. Fukuoka Nandaman restaurant, to name but one, serves local cuisine prepared by their dedicated culinary team using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
The rooms are of course, spacious, with stylish modern furnishings, plush beds and the full range of amenities and services you would expect from a hotel of this exceptional calibre.
Located away from the crowds on a quiet back street, the hotel is only 7 minutes’ walk from central Hakata Station and 5 minutes from Canal City shopping centre. There are plenty of nice restaurants and convenience stores nearby.
The spacious rooms here offer a range of comfortable facilities, including Simmons e-ion crystal (minus ion) beds, Grohe rain showerheads, TV, Refrigerator, Safety box alongside all the usual amenities. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
The hotel restaurant, The Octa Café uses locally sourced ingredients from around Kyushu to produce delicious French cuisine. Breakfast is served here from 7am.
Only 4 minutes’ walk away from Hakata train and subway stations, the b Hakata offers fantastic access to the city’s best sights.
Every room has a wide-screen LCD TV as well as all the usual amenities, and free wi-fi is available throughout the hotel. Free coffee is available in the lobby 24-7.
Your morning begins with a generous Western style breakfast buffet including some Asian delicacies
This clean and comfortable business class hotel is located just by Hakata Station, right in the heart of Fukuoka. As such, you will easily be able to reach any part of the city, including all its best sights.
This business class hotel features compact well equipped rooms with flat screen TVs, refrigerators and bathroom amenities. All rooms have free wi-fi. Computer terminals are available in the lobby along with 24 hour coin laundry.
Breakfast is a light Japanese breakfast consisting of rice balls, miso soup, some salad items and also a little bread.
Situated just an 8-minute walk or even shorter taxi ride from JR Nagasaki station, this superior class hotel provides easy access to all the city’s major sights such as the Glover Garden and around the Peace Park.
Rooms here are spacious and among the facilities are a Flat-screen TV(32inch), Refrigerator and safe, on top of all the usual amenities.
The hotel has four restaurants, with Japanese, Western and Asian options available, as well as a more casual café style restaurant. The Western and Asian style options are on the 15th floor and offer great views over the city.
Being only a 1 minute walk away from JR Nagasaki station, this hotel provides extremely easy access to all the city’s major sights, including Glover Garden and the Peace Park.
Rooms here are stylishly decorated and comfortable, with all of the usual amenities provided as standard. Free wi-fi is also available.
The family style restaurant serves a Western style breakfast and is open for lunch and dinner as well, with a range of Western and Japanese options, including the Nagasaki specialty, champon.
Situated on a verdant hillside, yet only 10 minutes away from Kagoshima-Chuo central station, this lovely hotel offers stunning views over the bay and provides good access to the city’s best sights.
The spacious and comfortably furnished rooms offer beautiful sea views and of course all the standard amenities including wide-screen TV, refrigerator and high-speed internet.
Hotel Shiroyama has an astounding 15 restaurants serving a range of Western and Oriental cuisine. This includes several specialty restaurants dedicated to particular Japanese dishes, such as sushi, tempura and teppanyaki. There is even a bar offering an impressive variety of locally produced, prize-winning ales from the Shiroyama Brewery.
Various spa facilities are available, as are indoor and outdoor hot spring baths. The quiet, hilltop location and the fantastic view make the experience of bathing here a truly peaceful and relaxing one.
Right on the river, just 5 minutes’ walk from Kagoshima-Chuo central station, this smart business class hotel provides an ideal base to start exploring the city’s palm tree lined streets. There are plenty of food options and various convenience stores nearby, as well as all of the shopping in the central station.
The rooms here are compact and well furnished with all the standard amenities and facilities.
On the 1st floor, Shangri-La restaurant offers a Western and Japanese style buffet in the mornings. There is also a café on the first floor and Japanese restaurant Azuma on the 3rd.
Located on the south side of the island, a 20 minute drive from Anbo port, you will truly be able to enjoy the peaceful beauty of the ocean at this superior resort hotel.
With a balcony and large windows, each spacious room comes with a sofa and a tatami mat seating area. A small fridge and a flat-screen TV are included in the room, as are the usual amenities and facilities.
The hotel restaurant serves both Western and Japanese cuisine, and offers a breakfast buffet of Western and Japanese dishes. If you have an early start you can request a breakfast to take with you on your day’s adventure.
The hotel’s indoor and outdoor natural hot spring baths offer gorgeous ocean views and are perfect for relaxing in after an active day.
This simple but pleasant hotel is just 3 minutes by taxi from Anbo port on the eastern side of the island, or 30 minutes from Miyanoura Port on the north side.
The rooms here are quite spacious with a view of the ocean. They are furnished with all the standard amenities and facilities, including TV and safe. Free wi-fi is available and there is a PC corner for internet access as well.
The hotel’s Japanese restaurant serves kaiseki style Japanese food made with locally sourced ingredients, including the local specialty, flying fish. Japanese breakfast is served daily. If you have an early start you can request a breakfast to take with you on your day’s adventure.
For some evening relaxation after your day’s activity, take a dip in the hotel’s hot spring baths or relax in the hot stone sauna.
With great views over the castle grounds, this lovely 4* hotel is conveniently situated in central Kumamoto only 10 minutes from the station by taxi. Trams provide access to most major sights that are not within walking distance. Should you wish to venture beyond the hotel’s six restaurants, you will find a multitude of eating options virtually on your doorstep.
Spacious and relaxed, the rooms here are very comfortable, some featuring views of the castle and surrounding grounds. The usual amenities and facilities are of course provided, including a widescreen LCD TV and free wi-fi.
The hotel has six restaurants, including Western, Japanese, Chinese, a buffet restaurant featuring locally sourced produce (where you will enjoy a mixed Japanese/Western breakfast buffet), a café and a cake shop.
The hotel is located just a 7 minute taxi ride from Kumamoto Station, or a short trip by tram. Nearby are the grounds of Kumamoto Castle, and Suizenji Jojuen Garden is easily accessible by tram. There are plenty of restaurants and convenience stores in the surrounding location, and the lively shopping arcade nearby has plenty of options by way of food. A branch of the popular ‘Don Quixote’ department store offers a big range of tax free shopping options.
The rooms here are compact and well furnished with all the standard amenities and facilities.
The hotel restaurant, Zakoya, offers a Western and Japanese style buffet in the mornings.
Once a private villa, this charming guesthouse has retained its Showa Period style in an unaffected way. It is calm and secluded; comfortable but unpretentious.
Yamada Bessou is tucked away in a quiet side street, but is only 7 minutes’ walk from Beppu Station, providing easy access to bus and train transport around the town and local area.
Rooms are large traditional tatami mat rooms with en-suite bath and toilet. Free wifi is available throughout the guesthouse.
Breakfast is served in a communal dining area. It is Japanese style, made with ingredients from the local area and served on ceramics made in the traditional local style.
The ryokan has hot spring baths, both indoor and outdoor, where you can relax and feel at ease.
The price for this Kyushu: Islands & Onsen independent itinerary as detailed above is as follows:
3* Hotels/ryokan: from £1,795 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
4* Hotels/ryokan: from £2,395 per person based on twin/double room occupancy.
3* single room supplement: from £280
4* single room supplement: from £660
Upgrade to 5* accommodation available: contact us for details.
All price estimates are based on current rates of exchange and are subject to availability. All prices are good for travel in 2017 but exclude blackout periods which coincide with Japanese National Holidays and some weekends.
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