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A complete guide to hiking in Kyushu

Hyakumeizan

7

Average Difficulty

3/5

Best Season

June - October

Highest Elevation

1936m

Overview

Kyushu is an amazing island at the southern end of Japan, it seems to fly under the radar a bit, but it's actually an incredible place for hiking and sightseeing, with its own unique landscape and environment. Kyushu has two famous active volcanoes, Mt. Aso, the largest volcano in Japan, and Sakurajima, the most active volcano in Japan. Sakurajima is constantly erupting so no hiking is permitted, but Mt. Aso features a handful of unique and enjoyable hikes, although the main peak is often closed due to volcanic activity. 

 

There are many amazing hikes in Kyushu, a truly complete guide would be far too big for one webpage, so this guide will mainly focus on the 7 mountains that are featured as part of the Hyakumeizan, which is the main reason hikers travel to Kyushu. There's an extra entry on this list for the Kirishima National Park, which contains some noteworthy trails in addition to the Hyakumeizan-listed peak of Mt. Karakuni.

 In This Article 

1. General

1.1 - Access

1.2 - Weather & Seasons

1.3 - Accommodation

1.4 - Useful Links

2. Featured Hikes

2.1 - Mt. Aso

2.2 - Mt. Yufu

2.3 - Mt. Karakuni

2.4 - Kirishima National Park

2.5 - The Kuju Mountains

2.6 - Mt. Sobo

2.7 - Mt. Kaimon

2.8 - Yakushima

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The beautiful trees in Kirishima National Park

access

Access

 To Kyushu 

Flights are often the best option to the major cities of Kagoshima and Kumamoto, where you'll have the easiest access to the mountains. They can be cheap depending on the season, sometimes costing just ¥12,000 one-way. The cheapest option is using Skyscanner, you can compare prices here.

 

The overnight ferry from Osaka to Beppu is possibly the best way to travel to Kyushu. Prices start from ¥8000 during off-peak periods, but can double during popular times or if you prefer a nicer room. The ferry is very nice and is an experience in itself. There is also a ferry from Tokyo to Fukuoka.

Click here for Osaka, or here for Tokyo. 

The overnight bus is the cheapest option, running from Kyoto and Osaka to Fukuoka, Kumamoto, or Beppu, it takes 10 to 12 hours and the price varies from ¥4000 to ¥8,000, with Fukuoka being the cheapest option. Click here for the bus to Fukuoka, here for the bus to Kumamoto, or here for the bus to Beppu.

The Shinkansen is also an option, although it's usually the most expensive. But if you don't mind spending the extra money, the convenience is totally worth it. Google Maps will provide the estimated cost and required transfers.

 To The Hiking Trails 

Renting a car is a great option for hiking around Kyushu and it's a great destination for roadtrips. You can compare prices and make reservations here, prices can be as low as ¥4000 – ¥6000.

​Public Transport for the hiking trails in Kyushu is not as seamless as in mainland Japan. But if you don't mind multiple connections and the odd taxi fare then you'll be fine. The easiest hikes using public transport are Mt. Aso, Mt. Yufu, and the Kuju mountains. Detailed information can be found on the individual hiking pages linked below.

Useful links

Weather  and  Seasons

Late spring to late autumn, from mid-May to the end of October, are the best times for hiking in Kyushu. The large island is famous for its rolling grasslands which become vibrant and green from June to September. Summer can be quite hot and humid, with temperatures averaging around 32°C.

 

Snow falls in the mountains around mid-November and is likely to be hanging around until April. The autumn leaves turn red in the higher mountains (over 1500m) from late September to late October.

For weather forecasts, mountainforecast.com plus the nearest town's forecast are a good combination to give you a fairly accurate picture.

 Note  

Kyushu is often in the path of typhoons which occur from June to October, and are most common in August and September. You will need to check these forecasts one week before your trip and consider cancellation policies for any bookings. 

Accommodation

On weekends and public holidays, hostels and hotels can get booked out pretty quickly. Booking.com will usually provide the cheapest rates, you can click the links below to check the options for each city. Your main cities for accessing the best hikes in Kyushu are:

Beppu (Mt. Yufu, The Kuju Mountains)

Kumamoto (Mt. Aso, The Kuju Mountains)

Kagoshima (Mt. Karakuni, Mt Kaimon)

Yakushima (Mt. Miyanoura, Jomon Sugi)

aso

The  Hikes

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阿蘇山

Mt. Aso

Elevation: 1592m

View Trail

Crowds

4/5

Trails

3

Elevation Change

220m - 610m

Time

3 - 7 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accommodation

Ryokans & Campsites

Trail Summary

Mt. Aso is an active volcano located in the centre of Kyushu, near the city of Kumamoto. It's the largest active volcano in Japan and one of the largest in the world. It features numerous mountains with hiking trails and a variety of beautiful terrain with stunning views. The highest peak in the area is Taka-dake (on the Naka-dake trail) which overlooks the active caldera and is often closed when volcanic gas levels become too high.

 

The 3 main hikes that are accessible from the bus area can be done over two days. Naka-dake and Taka-dake are part of the same hike and will take about 5 hours, while Eboshi-dake and Kishima-dake will only take a few hours to complete.

View The Full Trail Guide

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Mt. Yufu

View Trail

Crowds

3/5

Distance

8 km

Elevation Change

➚ ➘  900m

Time

5 - 6 Hours

Difficulty

3/5

Accommodation

Hotels

由布岳

Elevation: 1583m

yufu

Trail Summary

Mt. Yufu is a prominent volcanic mountain rising up above the hot spring town of Yufuin, located next to Beppu, with easy access via public transport. The mountain is stunningly beautiful in summer, with picturesque grasslands, natural forests, and a rocky volcanic crater at the top. The trail meanders smoothly up the grassy mountainside, then into the forest, and finishes with rock climbing along chains and ropes to reach the peak. The views at the top are also spectacular, with a complete panorama that includes the Aso-Kuju mountain range, the ocean, and the mainland of Honshu. Despite the chain assisted rock climbing, it is a relatively easy hike and can be completed in an afternoon.

View The Full Trail Guide

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