Whether you’re traveling in Kyushu to enjoy the lush countryside home to natural hot springs, active volcanoes and waterfalls, or heading into the bustling cities to shop your heart’s content, getting around Japan’s underrated third-largest island has never been more affordable or convenient, thanks to the new JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass.
Although Japan’s borders are still closed to tourists from abroad due to the coronavirus, the JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass is designed for the country’s foreign residents who want to discover Kyushu’s hottest tourist attractions in a fast and efficient manner.
The pass offers users unlimited travel on JR Kyushu shinkansen and limited express trains for three consecutive days. If you’re planning to visit more than one city on your trip, it makes sense to take advantage of this limited-time discount—as you’ll likely be using the train to move around the island.
Where can you travel with the JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass?
With unlimited JR train rides throughout the Kyushu area, there is a lot to see and do. Here are some of the most popular spots to explore that are easily accessible via JR Kyushu stations.
Most people traveling into Kyushu by air will likely land in Fukuoka’s well-connected airport. Although visiting Fukuoka City just to stroll through the entertainment districts is worthwhile in itself, you can’t leave without trying one of the most popular bowl of noodles in Japan—the famed Hakata ramen.
Kagoshima is renowned for its natural beauty, regional cuisine and abundance of natural hot springs. Unique destinations include Sakurajima, a volcanic island that can be reached within 15 minutes of downtown Kagoshima, and the town of Ibusuki, famous for its Sunamushi Onsen where you can sweat in the sand.
Hells of Beppu
This unique onsen (natural hot spring bath) site in Oita Prefecture is more often enjoyed as a viewing spot rather than a hot spring to bathe in. You’ll find striking hot springs such as Chinoike Jigoku (Blood Pond Hell), which has reddish water and emits red steam, as well as a boiling blue onsen called Umi Jigoku (Ocean Hell) that is regarded as the most beautiful of them all.
One hour from Kumamoto City, Mount Aso is the largest active caldera, or volcanic crater, in the world—spanning over 100 kilometers and dotted with rural villages and rice fields. Eruptions are fairly regular, but you can climb to its peak and peer into the smoking crater when conditions are safe. Check the volcanic updates before you go!
Despite its recent tragic history, Nagasaki has grown to become one of Kyushu’s most attractive cities. Trams connect most parts of the city, making it easier to navigate all those hills for sightseeing in the day, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied in and around the bawdy entertainment district of Shianbashi at night. A visit to Nagasaki should include a trip to the Nagasaki Peace Park which commemorates the atomic bombing during WWII.
Who is eligible for the pass?
To get your hands on the JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass, you’ll need to be a non-Japanese national (hold a passport issued by a country other than Japan). However, you will be allowed up to one companion that can be a Japanese national if the pass is purchased simultaneously.
How do you purchase the pass?
Head over to the ticket office of any manned JR Kyushu station (yes—unmanned stations still operate here) or visit the Klook website to purchase a pass online. Purchasing the ticket from Klook will also get you a further ¥500 off a future purchase from the website.
If you make the purchase online, you’ll need to pick it up in person at one of the following stations and show your residence card or passport:
- Miyazaki Airport
If you’re going to be accompanied by a Japanese national, you need to purchase their tickets from the ticket office. You can also reserve seats for the shinkansen and limited express trains in advance at the ticket office.
How much does the pass cost?
Here are the prices for the JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass:
|Area||Validity||User||Price||Seat reservation limit|
|All Kyushu||Consecutive 3-day pass||Non-Japanese national||¥12,000*||Up to six reservations per passenger.|
|Northern Kyushu||Non-Japanese national||¥6,500*|
*Children aged 6 to 11 are half price.
When can you use the pass?
The JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass will be on sale from Dec. 11, 2020, until June 28, 2021. Passes bought on June 28, 2021, can be used until June 30, 2021.
The JR Kyushu Discover Rail Pass gives you the chance to discover Kyushu’s stunning natural beauty, excellent regional food and drink, modern cities, unique culture and traditions, plus its many important historical sites—all at a great price.
Don’t forget to tag #JRKyushuDiscover on your Kyushu snaps or share their official rail pass post on Facebook to win a selection of local Kyushu products!
For more information and recommended travel routes, visit the official JR Kyushu website.
JR Kyushu takes your safety seriously and takes strict precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. As such, all train staff wear face masks and wash their hands thoroughly. Disinfectant sprays are available to use inside all train stations and clear, plastic barriers are installed at all ticket windows to help minimize the risk of transmission.