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Kyushu Itinerary Help, Please

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So, we've decided on Kyushu for our next trip. I was also drawn to Chugoku and Tohuku but Kyushu appealed more. I'm sure we'll go back again, and visit the other regions in the future.

We have 8 nights to play with though more like 7.5 actual days...

Day 1 - First half day will be taken by travel by train, from Osaka or thereabouts.
Day 9 - Reasonably early morning departure as will be travelling back to Tokyo.

We are happy to get a rental car, which I think will give us greatest flexibility. I imagine best option is to pick up and drop off in Hakata / Fukuoka as that's most likely route into / out of Kyushu on train?

Initially had thought first and last night best spent in Hakata but actually, perhaps best to spend last 2 nights there so can enjoy the full day in between. In this case, would mean arriving by train, picking up rental car and driving straight on to first destination. Is this advisable / doable? Don't want to arrive too late anywhere...

Probably means not going to Beppu for first night (as want to tour there and then go to Yufuin for that night). Maybe an overnight in Nakatsu?

Day 6, 7 or 8 - Want to be in Katsuri for one of these nights, to coincide with Karatsu Kunchi festival.

Other days/ nights:


Visit to Beppu during day, overnight stop in Yufuin. Onsen.

Perhaps another town in this prefecture as there seem many of interest?

Visits to Aso/ Mount Kuji - best to overnight in Kurokawa or Kumamoto?
-- and do I want to include an overnight in Kurokawa if already stopping overnight in Yufuin?
-- and can I detour to enjoy Takachiho Gorge or is that pushing it?

Nagasaki - of historical interest but a fair drive out of the way

Kumamoto - looks a little ugly but looks like it has lots to do/ see/ eat and I'm a lot about the eating!

Kagoshima - looks beautiful but is a long way down, perhaps better left for another trip? If not, being there on day 6 or 7 best, as coincides with Ohara Matsuri.

Miyazaki - also out of the way from most other stops, again thinking best to leave Southern Kyushu for next time.

Ibusuki - as above, not this time.

So, with my days to play with and the restrictions in terms of when to schedule Katsura, any suggestions on itinerary/ order?

We prefer to pootle in leisurely fashion than rush about...


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