The ancient volcanoes of Kumamoto, the enchanting hot springs of Oita, mountain escapes in Miyazaki, the mystical islands of Kagoshima and the nightlife of Fukuoka – it is all so enticing, yet the entire island of Kyushu may seem unattainable in one trip. 

The JR Kyushu Rail Pass, usually reserved for inbound tourists, is now available for Japan residents with foreign passports. Thanks to this limited time offer, foreign nationals living in Japan can easily access all of the wonders of Kyushu.

Dine on authentic Hakata ramen in Fukuoka, or Kumamoto’s basashi, or “cherry blossom meat,” a delicacy of raw horse meat served in a sashimi-like presentation. Explore Saga’s traditional ceramics workshops in the pottery towns of Karatsu, Arita and Imari. (Pro tip: Most shops will ship anywhere in Japan.) Alternatively, check out Nagasaki’s European-themed theme park Huis Ten Bosch, which celebrates the historic relations between Japan and the Netherlands, or ride the Umisachi Yamasachi train down the coast of Miyazaki and sightsee from the comfort of a stylish car. 

Getting Around Using the JR Kyushu Rail Pass

When traveling in Japan, a considerable amount of the budget is usually spent on bus tickets, train fares and shinkansen rides. Food can be found cheap (depending on your affinity) and there are tons of affordable accommodation options, but saving some yen on transportation is difficult. Newly available to foreign residents this July, the JR Kyushu Rail Pass allows you to travel to your heart’s content for a fraction of the cost. Take this as a sign to finally plan the trip you’ve been putting off.

There are three types of passes to choose from: The Northern Kyushu Area Pass, the Southern Kyushu Area Pass and the All Kyushu Area Pass. 

With the Northern Kyushu Area Pass, travelers can visit Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures as well as some parts of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. If it’s your first time in Kyushu and you want to hit the bigger cities and tourist areas, this is the pass for you. The Southern Kyushu Area Pass encompasses Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures as well as some parts of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. If what you’re looking for is hiking trails or simply a more mellow place to relax, this is where you should head to. Finally, for the ambitious of us who want to leave no road untraveled, there is the All Kyushu Area Pass. This pass covers every prefecture mentioned above, allowing you to go from Fukuoka to Kagoshima and back.

How to Purchase the JR Kyushu Rail Pass

Price breakdown:

  • Northern Kyushu Area Pass: ¥9,500 for 3 days or ¥11,000 for 5 days
  • Southern Kyushu Area Pass: ¥8,000 for 3 days
  • All Kyushu Area Pass: ¥16,000 for 3 days, ¥18,500 for 5 days or ¥20,000 for 7 days

All three passes can be used to ride most local and limited express trains as well as the shinkansen in their respective regions. For details and exceptions or to learn more about each pass here.

Note: This offer is available until March 31, 2022. The pass can only be purchased at the following JR stations: Hakata, Kokura, Mojiko, Saga, Nagasaki, Sasebo, Beppu, Oita, Kumamoto, Kagoshima-chuo, Miyazaki and Miyazaki Airport. 

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