TOPTravelRegionsKyushuOn the Right Track: Travel Kyushu by Train

On the Right Track: Travel Kyushu by Train

These new and luxurious trains will make your Kyushu trip even more memorable

By Lisa Wallin

There’s something special about train travel. Suspended between destinations, train cars are micro-worlds of their own. Elevate your Kyushu trip by hopping on one (or more) of JR Kyushu’s immersive railroad adventures. The region’s Design and Story (D&S) sightseeing trains are ripe with local charm plucked from the prefectures they meander through. Lean back, relax and let them spoil you as you watch the landscape pass by.

A Savory Sensation: Aru Ressha

Revived in 2015 after over a wait of 100 years, this luxury train is the stuff of dreams. Hop aboard and be transported into the past as the sumptuous interior with its curved wooden accents and coffered ceilings showcase the beauty of both Japanese and Western craftsmanship. Passengers on the Aru Ressha will embark upon an approximately three-hour culinary journey between Hakata and Yufuin stations that they will long remember. The course menu is designed by Yoshihiro Narisawa of Tokyo’s renowned Narisawa restaurant and promises to delight the palate with every dish. (More info)

Over the River and Through the Woods: Yufuin no Mori

Running between Hakata and famed hot spring resort Yufuin (and occasionally as far as Beppu), this limited express train allows your to experience Yufuin’s delights from the moment you hop onboard. Slip into a wooded wonderland — both inside and outside the train — and dine on locally sourced tidbits as scores of trees whirl past the panoramic windows. Sleek wooden panels and flooring encase the seating areas and will embrace you in a warm cocoon, lulling you into a state of contented bliss. (More info)

All Aboard for an Adventure: Aso Boy!

Debuting in 2011, the distinctive monochrome Aso Boy! traverses the wild volcanic Aso area as it runs between Kumamoto and Beppu stations. The interior offers a wild experience of its own — bright pop art-style designs and kid-friendly facilities make this train a boon for traveling families with young children. One car hosts a thrilling ball pool and cute café, where tots can dive and play until they’re tuckered out. Once they’re tired, there is a picture book corner for quiet reading and a Japanese-style room where they can take a nap. Naturally, there are kids’ bento and sandwiches available on board, which can be paired with a local non-alcoholic cider. At Aso Station, passengers can visit the station master’s office, where Kuro-chan — the Aso Boy! mascot and very good boy — has his base. (More info)

The Best of Both Worlds: Umisachi Yamasachi

Crossing mountains and skirting the sea, the Umisachi Yamasachi steers visitors through the land of myths and legend. Weave through the mysterious deep woods of Miyazaki Prefecture and follow the brilliant blue ocean of the Nichinan Coast between Miyazaki and Nango stations. The train’s charming wood paneled exterior is reminiscent of a toy train, while its interior is lavishly decorated with latticed seats using local obi cedar. (More info)

Building up Steam: New Autumn Arrivals

Two new ways to traverse Kyushu’s northwestern prefectures of Nagasaki and Saga will take to the stage later this year.

The Fast Track: Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen Kamome

Part of a bigger effort to make travel around Kyushu’s seven prefectures more convenient, the Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen is the latest addition to the region. For now, it consists of a 66-kilometer track between Nagasaki and Takeo Onsen stations. (More info)

Follow the Waves: Two Stars 4047

Hugging the coast of western Kyushu, the Two Stars 4047 is a sightseeing train that serves local snacks, drinks and sweets in a relaxing atmosphere. (More info)

Just the Ticket: The JR-Kyushu Rail Pass

This pass makes it affordable and easy to zip around the island. It can be used on most trains, conditions apply.

  • Northern Kyushu (Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Saga, Kumamoto and Oita)
    3 Days ¥10,000 / 5 Days ¥14,000
  • Southern Kyushu (Kumamoto, Oita, Kagoshima and Miyazaki)
    3 Days ¥8,000
  • All Kyushu
    3 Days ¥17,000 / 5 Days ¥18,500 / 7 Days ¥20,000

The JR Kyushu Rail Pass is available for purchase and can be used by foreign nationals living in Japan until the end of September 2022. Prices accurate as of April 2022.

See more information about the JR-Kyushu Rail Pass here.


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