Steaming hot springs, a smoking volcano, quiet canals, a ghostly island — on this 10-day adventure, you'll focus on outdoor attractions on the Japanese island of Kyushu. Start in the capital city of Fukuoka, day-tripping to peaceful Yanagawa, a Venice-like town laced with canals. Then spend several days exploring Beppu, famous for its natural hot springs, before continuing to the grasslands and mountains of Aso. Climb Mount Aso, Japan's largest active volcano, before wrapping up the trip in Nagasaki with a boat ride to a deserted island and a cable car journey to one of the world's best night views.

Highlights

  • Navigate the canals of Yanagawa in a traditional boat
  • See the "Seven Hells," the natural hot springs of Beppu
  • Indulge in a calming sand bath at a coastal spa
  • Hike to the top of Japan's largest active volcano
  • Take in one of the world's greatest night views in Nagasaki

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Fukuoka Fukuoka
Day 2 Explore the Canals of Yanagawa Fukuoka
Day 3 See the "Seven Hells" of Beppu Beppu
Day 4 Enjoy a Sand Bath in Beppu Beppu
Day 5 Visit Kurokawa Onsen in the Mountains Beppu
Day 6 Discover Beautiful Landscapes in Aso Kumamoto
Day 7 Venture to the Largest Active Volcano in Japan Kumamoto
Day 8 Take in Incredible Views in Nagasaki Nagasaki
Day 9 Explore the Abandoned Island of Gunkanjima Nagasaki
Day 10 Depart Nagasaki - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Fukuoka

Fukuoka, the capital of Kyushu

Welcome to Japan! Start the trip in Fukuoka, the capital of the island of Kyushu. After getting checked in and settled at your hotel, visit Oohori Park and take a leisurely walk along its lake. Then head over to Canal City, filled with small shops and traditional restaurants. This evening is a great time to try a regional specialty, Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen (Pork Bone Ramen), a rich noodle soup that's served at small stalls along the riverfront. Then get some rest before heading into nature on day two.

Day 2: Explore the Canals of Yanagawa

Navigating the canals of Yanagawa

Today you'll day-trip from Fukuoka, enjoying a train ride through the countryside to the peaceful town of Yanagawa. Something like a Japanese version of Venice, Yanagawa is known for its many canals. Locals get around on small boats, and you'll have the opportunity to experience it yourself during a boat ride. Other highlights here include the historic villa of Ohana and the adjacent Shoto-en Garden. After taking some time to explore this picturesque town, don't miss the chance to sample a local delicacy: freshly caught eel. You'll return to Fukuoka in the evening. 

Day 3: See the "Seven Hells" of Beppu

Natural springs in Beppu

After breakfast, leave Fukuoka and head to Beppu, best-known for its hot springs and wellness culture. The main attraction here is a series of spectacular natural springs referred to as the Seven Hells of Beppu. Characterized by bright colors, sulfur clouds, and bubbling mud, these steaming springs are for viewing, not bathing. For centuries, local people have cooked their food in springs' hot steam. It's possible to try these traditional steamed snacks at food stalls around the area. In the evening, relax at one of Beppu's spas, then get some rest at your hotel. 

Day 4: Enjoy a Sand Bath in Beppu

Views from Mount Tsurumi

Start your day with a unique experience — a sand bath. At Beppu Beach Sand Bath, you'll submerge your entire body (except your face, of course) in hot sand. Rest, relax, and enjoy views of the ocean while your body warms up. The sand, heated by nutrient-rich water, is thought to have various health benefits. After climbing out of the sand and showering off, you'll continue on the day's adventure by cable car up to the summit of Mount Tsurumi. Enjoy some fresh air and outdoor activity in the mountains: the area is laced with hiking trails that lead to small shrines and photogenic lookouts. Ride the cable car back down when you're ready to head back to your hotel for the evening.

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Day 5: Visit Kurokawa Onsen in the Mountains

A traditional house in the village of Kurokawa Onsen

The journey leads you next to the beautiful village of Kurokawa Onsen, known for its traditional architecture and hot springs. Autumn is especially beautiful in the region, as all the trees' leaves turn to bright colors. Stroll through the historic center of the resort town, which has been wonderfully preserved. A river flows through the center of town, passing charming cafés, small shrines, and old-fashioned houses with earthen walls. Visit one of several public baths to soak in the hot springs — many are open to the sky — before sitting down to a multi-course meal featuring regional specialties. 

Day 6: Discover Beautiful Landscapes in Aso

A mountain road in the Aso region

Head to the Aso region, driving through a volcanic landscape past dairy farms and panoramic lookout points. Tomorrow you'll hike to Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan; today, you'll enjoy the area around it, including Aso-Kuju National Park. Go for a walk through the Kusa-Senrigahama grasslands, where horses and cattle are framed against a big sky and dramatic mountain peaks, including Mt. Kishima and Mt. Eboshi. Go on a horseback riding excursion or visit the Aso Volcano Museum before retreating to your accommodations in Kumamoto.

Day 7: Venture to the Largest Active Volcano in Japan

Looking out at Mt. Aso

Today you'll have the option to hike up Mt. Aso, the crowning glory of the most active volcanic region in the country. On a clear day, when smoke and ash aren't creating obstructions, you can walk to the edge of Nakadake, the volcano's center. Excellent hiking trails around the volcano offer fascinating views. If you prefer, it's possible to explore the area on a mountain bike instead. Take some time to enjoy the national park before heading back to your hotel in the evening.

Day 8: Take in Incredible Views in Nagasaki

The striking view from Mt. Inasayama

The trip continues in Nagasaki. Early in the day, visit some of the historic sites around town. Start at the reclaimed island of Dejima to learn about the influence that the Dutch had on Japan as well as the relationship between the two nations. After that, visit Peace Park to learn about the events that took place in the city during World War II. In the evening, ride a cable car up to the top of Mt. Inasayama to take in one of the best night views on earth.

Day 9: Explore the Abandoned Island of Gunkanjima

The ghost island of Hashima

Today is the last full day of the trip. After breakfast, embark on a trip to Gunkanjima (also known as Hashima), a small island that was home to a coal mine shut down in 1974. The buildings of this deserted city have a ghostly atmosphere that makes for a unique experience. After returning to the harbor, have lunch and continue exploring Nagasaki. Walk to Meganebashi Bridge, a historic stone bridge that dates back to 1634, for unique photo ops of the structure's reflection over the waterway below. Watch penguins playing at Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, then feast on Japanese food on the last night of the adventure.

Day 10: Depart Nagasaki - End of Trip

Nagasaki lit up at twilight

The trip has come to a close. Transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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