Kurokawa from Kumamoto or Kagoshima

Old May 13th, 2016, 09:12 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kurokawa from Kumamoto or Kagoshima

We are trying to decide if/how we should rearrange our Kyushu trip in October. As it stands now, we'll be starting in Kagoshima, spending one night before and after we go to Kurokawa. With the damage from the earthquake, we are trying to assess what makes the most sense. We planned on renting a car, but if we go from Kagoshima, I'm not sure it's worth paying the one way drop off surcharge

I know Mt. Aso is mostly closed (as of now) and some of the roads have been impacted. We also want to go to Takachiho Gorge.

I know our trip is six months off, but given the earthquake/volcanic activity, does it still make sense for us to keep this itinerary, or stay in Fukuoka and Nagasaki and take the ferry to Busan? We're flying in and out of KIX, so extra time on Honshu is an option too. (We'll be going to Kurashiki, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Kyoto (2nd time) and Osaka.)

Please advise. Thank you.
internetwiz is offline  
Old May 13th, 2016, 11:13 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,685
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I enjoyed taking the train/bus combo from Kumamoto to Kurokawa. I don't think it takes much longer than driving, and I don't think we would have driven anywhere along that stretch that wasn't covered by the train. I believe most onset in Kurokawa will pick you up at the bus stop, and ours also took us into town during the day.

Another option would be to take the train from Kagoshima to Kumamoto, then do a round trip car rental from there to Kurokawa, if you really want to drive.

Mt Aso was closed when we were there, but I wasn't planning to go up to the rim anyway, as we were only in Japan for 5 days.
lcuy is offline  
Old May 13th, 2016, 04:42 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, Lcuy. We do have a car reserved to go back and forth from Kumamoto. My concern is whether we're going to be hampered by the road conditions/volcanic activity.

I looked into the bus, and yes, the ryokan will pick us up, but I didn't know if there was enough to see in that area that was easy enough to get to via public transportation.
internetwiz is offline  
Old May 13th, 2016, 05:29 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,823
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Go to the evening kagura performance at the shrine in Takachiho. Take pillows to sit on!
mrwunrfl is online now  
Old May 13th, 2016, 06:57 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The main route from Kumamoto (and points south) up to Kurokawa Onsen is Highway 57, which was covered by massive landslide. No idea what it will be like by the time you go there. But doesn't mean you cannot take a longer route.
rkkwan is offline  
Old May 13th, 2016, 07:53 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 988
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's difficult to know how the roads will be six months from now. However, if you call the JNTO, they will give you the most accurate information about what will be expected in terms of clean up. I have found the ladies in the Los Angeles office to be much nicer than those in New York, so give them a buzz.

I am a bit confused about your itinerary. Are you planning to go to Busan or not? I met a Korean guy when I was in Nagasaki, and he took the ferry over from there, so yes it is possible, and convenient. Can you perhaps post your proposed itinerary so that others here can critique it?

I am fond of both Kumamoto and Nagasaki, but Kagoshima not so much. Kumamoto is a charming small city, and the castle and grounds around it are really cool. I took a day trip from there out to the Amakusa Islands to go Dolphin Watching--it's just gorgeous, and you could spend a few days there. Nagasaki is my favorite city on Kyushu--only half the city was destroyed in WWII, so there is much to see there. Kagoshima is a large city with little charm, and I found the sites a bit disappointing, but the peninsula is quite pretty if you get out of the city.

The area around Mt. Aso is rural and pretty, but if the roads are closed, then you will need a plan B. Personally, I would stick to the west coast.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old May 13th, 2016, 10:39 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,685
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry, I should have read more closely. I thought you were trying to avoid the high drop off fees!
lcuy is offline  
Old May 14th, 2016, 04:40 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is our itinerary. Although I have hotel(s) booked, I can certainly switch things around. The only one that would be hard to rebook would be the ryokan in Kurokawa. The things in Kagoshima that interested me were Sakurajima and Ibusuki Sand Bath, which I think we'd have to do as two separate day trips.

We're going to Nagasaki toward the end because we didn't want to be there for the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival. We're not going to Busan, but thought that might be an option for Plan B, except I found out that it's the same time as their film festival.

Day 1 – Arrive at KIX (overnight in Kobe)
Day 2 – Kurashiki (stop at Himeji, enroute)
Day 3 – Kurashiki
Day 4 – Hiroshima
Day 5 – Miyajima
Day 6 – Kagoshima (about 4 hours by train)
Day 7 – Kagoshima
Day 8 – Kagoshima
Day 9 – Kumamoto (about 1 hour by train),
Day 10 – Kurokawa (pick up rental car, visit Mt. Aso enroute)
Day 11 – Kurokawa
Day 12 – Kumamoto (via Takachiho Gorge)
Day 13 – Nagasaki (stop at Shimabara enroute?)
Day 14 – Nagasaki
Day 15 – Nagasaki
Day 16 – Fukuoka
Day 17 – Fukuoka
Day 18 – Kyoto (via train)
Day 19 – Kyoto
Day 20 – Osaka
Day 21 – depart from KIX late afternoon

Again, thank you for your input.
internetwiz is offline  
Old May 14th, 2016, 06:43 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 988
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If I am reading this correctly, you are staying in 11 hotels over 21 nights? I am going to assume here that you are seasoned travelers who just love moving around at that pace. My standard trip is also three weeks, and I try to only stay in 7 or 8 hotels. But, ok, let's move on...

Did you already get your plane tickets? I did a similar trip in 2014, and I flew into Narita, and then caught a flight from there down to Fukuoka on the same evening, looped around Kyushu, took a train up to Honshu, and left from Narita. You are doing way too much backtracking, but if you already have your plane tickets, well, let's see if this can work out.

First of all, I would spend two nights in Hiroshima, and then do a day trip to Miyajima, but other regular posters here liked staying overnight there, so I'll leave that up to you. I would also stay in Kumamoto for two nights, then I would take my trip to Kurakawa, and then leave early in the morning, drop the car off in Kumamoto, then take the train directly to Nagasaki that same day. I did something similar--the Kumamoto car rental places are literally at the train station--you return you car, and you walk five minutes into the train station--there is no reason to stay overnight in Kumamoto a second time. I used Hertz for my car rental--my son is fluent in Japanese, so he called around for me, and they had the best rate.

The day you leave Fukuoka, be sure and send your luggage ahead, and spend a few hours in Kitakyushu on your way north--it's a quaint historical town with lots of boats. Also, on your way from Nagasaki to Fukuoka, be sure and stop in Saga, which has an amazing castle and great pottery. While in Kagoshima, take a day trip to Chiran (by bus) to see the Kamakaze Museum--they have two actual planes there, and not just replicas, and the last letters written by the pilots to their parents.

I didn't mean to discourage you about Kagoshima. The sites there are spread out all across the city, and since I am a big walker, I found it annoying. I do have a hotel for you--it's called the Sun Days Inn, and it's very new, with good service. You can walk from there to the Sakurajima ferry. I also took a day trip down to the Ibusuki Sand Baths, but I chickened out when I got there. It was raining, so they had the whole area covered, and it seemed too claustrophobic, so I walked along the ocean, and headed back. The train ride is really pretty, though.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old May 14th, 2016, 08:38 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,685
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Why don't you fly from KIX straight to Kagoshima or Fukuoka? Explore Kyushu, then travel Fukuoka to KIX just once, hitting all your cities along the way.



While in Kumamoto stop at the excellent tourist info center. it is kitty corner from the train station, above the grocery store on the corner. They have all sorts of info on Kyushu's attractions, hikes, festivals, etc, and extremely helpful employees. It doesn't seem like the area atop Mt Aso will be open by October, since it was closed even before the earthquake, but they could get you updated info.
lcuy is offline  
Old May 15th, 2016, 09:11 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 988
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Icuy's idea is better than mine. I would fly straight from KIX to the southernmost point, which is Kagoshima, and work my way north via train, while stopping along the way. Most people "tackle" Japan that way when they travel long distances. Long train rides, with tight connections are no fun, and often cost more than flying.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old May 15th, 2016, 10:30 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 371
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Given your plan, you could consolidate a few things or expand some others. For Kurashiki you really don't need 1½ days; if you are only going to visit Himeji Castle and the Kokoen Garden next to it, and you have an early start, you could see Himeji and Kurashiki in a day, leaving Day 3 open. There are a number of places you could visit. Shikoku is an often ignored gem, and Kotohira has one of the best half day hike's you'll ever take in your life, and Takamatsu has the Ritsurin Garden which is one of the nation's best.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...XXfmDYjZaijlAq

Okayama is another possibility, with its castle, Korakuen Garden (one of Japan's traditional Top 3) and the lovely Handayama Garden nearby.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...REGdGupetT13aa

One other option is to move Hiroshima/Miyajima up, and after that go visit Iwakuni with its iconic historical bridge and mountaintop castle. You could combine it with the other masterpiece in the area, Akiyoshido, which is a 300 million year old limestone cave 1km deep with giant caverns and an underground river running through it. Absolutely unforgettable.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...1bURlDi2W89QDX

For Kagoshima itself, you can see the city in a full day, which includes Sakuarjima, Shiroyama Park, and the beautiful Sengan-en Garden.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...JMdkB9mF0qjnqK
But for your other days, look into branching out into Kirishima for hiking, Chiran for history (kamikaze museum, old samurai quarter etc) and Ibusuki.
Kurokawa and Mt. Aso are good areas for a rental car. Be aware though that there could be some pricey charges for dropping off the car at a different place than where you rented it. Hopefully the roads will be better when you take to the road. As said, the area near the Aso crater is closed and most likely will remain that way for some time (started long before the earthquake). You can see what you'd miss though at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tyh_nKrv5tY

But instead, there are many other good places to see! If the weather is good, drive up to the Daikanbo lookout point for a killer view over the whole area. West from Oguni Town down the Hita Hwy and north of the Kurobochi Post Office and Shinkoji Temple is a secret gem - the Nabegadaki Waterfall which you can walk behind.
https://goo.gl/4objys
And also there is the Kuju Flower Park, which is absolutely gorgeous.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4772.html
Nagasaki is really the most interesting city on the whole island. If you can see Gunkanjima or Battleship Island, it is really worth it - sometimes rough seas close the ferries there so try every day until you can. It's quite surreal and kind of like Chernobyl without the radiation killing you. Dejima, the Peace Park/Museum, and Glover Garden are also very historical. But don't miss one of the often missed jewels there - the Koshibyo Shrine.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...K92siHyNqSNxXz
And be sure to see Mt Inasa at night for one of the best city night views in the world, and try the chanpon and saraudon for lunch and dinner.
Fukuoka is the biggest city on the island, and also often neglected. The pork broth ramen called tonkotsu ramen is famous there, and many go to the Nakasu area for the ramen stalls (Yatai) for a bowl. There are some good gardens and parks there as well. But the best sight is about 25 minutes from the city by train - the Nanzoin Temple. Absolutely stunning and virtually unknown to most of the world.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...7ayvBAbOn8-028
http://www.thejapanfaq.com/fukpic.html

Lastly, I am not sure what CaliforniaLady is referring to - Kitakyushu is anything but a "quaint historical town with lots of boats". Maybe she means Yanagawa? Kitakyushu is a heavily industrial city with little there. Kokura Castle is not bad, the Moji Retro area is a preserved district from a hundred years ago, and there is Sarakurayama, another hidden jewel few know about with a spectacular view over the city.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl1pCW9Ibbk
But Yanagawa, while nice, is closer to Saga City.
Adastra2200 is offline  
Old May 16th, 2016, 06:49 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 988
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Adastra2200, in regards to your question about my reference to Kitakyushu, the historic area is called "Mojiko Retro Town." Here is a link:

http://www.travel-around-japan.com/k...iko-retro.html

The entire area was restored awhile back, and the buildings are beautiful, and almost all free to enter. I also took a fun, splashing little boat over to the Honshu side of Shimonoseki, where there are a few historical buildings there as well. It was one of my favorite days in Japan.

I agree with you that Nagasaki wins my award for the best city on Kyushu, however, I disliked the tour to Battleship Island. The buildings are all rusted out, and I wondered what the toxic emissions were doing to the fish and algae in the ocean. What's more, the English audio guides didn't work at all--something about the transmitters, but the view from the boat was fantastic.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Old May 16th, 2016, 09:07 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 774
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good advice Adastra2200, but what is "one of the best half day hikes you'll ever take in your life" in Kotohira? Is it the one up to Konpira shrine with 1,368 steps (which I've avoided for that reason)?
someotherguy is offline  
Old May 16th, 2016, 04:39 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 510
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. I am trying to rebook my Kurokawa reservation, and then will be able to determine the rest. It puts us there on a holiday weekend, so I'm hoping they still have availability. I have dietary restrictions (gluten free) and this particular ryokan was the only one who was willing to accommodate me.

Originally I did look into flying directly to Kagoshima but since we arrive in the evening, I knew we couldn't get a connecting domestic flight by the time we cleared customs. I've resigned myself to stay at a airport hotel (Nikko at KIX, unless someone has a better suggestion) and taking an early flight the next day.

I will look into all the side trips you've all suggested once I get my itinerary reracked. They sound very interesting. I also need to go back and see whether a JR Pass is beneficial, even with the detours/stops.
internetwiz is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Bekaboo
Asia
15
Jul 27th, 2015 12:12 PM
Bob_Brady
United States
4
May 26th, 2011 12:30 PM
Tommmo
Asia
4
Aug 28th, 2008 10:53 AM
teacherhiker
Asia
5
Feb 2nd, 2008 12:00 PM
OJudy
Asia
18
Aug 29th, 2006 10:23 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:49 PM.