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We (2 adults, 2 toddlers) are planning a trip to Kyushu in November. We are considering 7 days JR Rail passes and will likely be using one day from Osaka to Hiroshima, where we'll have one night there.

That leaves 5-6 days in Kyushu. We have friends around Fukuoka, but where we really want to visit are:

  • Beppu (Maybe Yufuin as it's on the way)
  • Aso
  • Sakurajima (maybe)
  • Kumamoto

Although I'm pretty sure we can do this on public transit, I'm getting the sense that we may need to rent a car from Beppu to Aso (or Kumamoto). If we have to do this, is it worth it to use a Japan Rail Pass? ~¥30,000 x 2 (kids free).

Also, are there worthwhile things to see in Fukuoka or Kumamoto, or should we concentrate on places like Yufuin, Beppu, Aso and maybe Kagoshima?

My wife speaks Japanese and I can get by.

EDIT:

I guess one question is, is it a lot more expensive (time + money) to: Rent Car between beppu and kumamoto and just buy train tix for the other places?

Are trains convenient enough to see all these places or is it pushing for time?

Is is a sane idea to do this with a 4 year old and 18 month old?

Where would you stay if you wanted to see Kyushu and where could you just make a day trip?

E.g. Hakata - Beppu, stopping at Yufuin as a day trip on the way? Beppu to Kumamoto stopping at Aso on the way doable via transit or is a car necessary for timing?

The only route I'm sure of is anything between Hakata and Sakurajima as that's all Shinkansen now and superfast.

  • Asking if it is "worth it" is a sure way to get your question closed as too subjective. What specific criteria are important to you in making this decision? We can help evaluate more objective criteria. – Flimzy Aug 29 '14 at 9:16
  • Purely FWIW, "show of hands" - I'd get a car since it's a hell of a lot of fun, and, gonna guess, will be cheaper overall with that many humans involved. Trains are "sort of" fun for little kids, in the sense of "for the first hour....." :/ Then you spend the next 100 hours asking yourself, why the hell you don't just have an ordinary car, so there's no waiting, and you can stop any moment you happen to want to! You can't walk for hours anyways with children, so you'll end up taking taxi after taxi to get anywheres from stations - another aspect. Just a though, cheers! – Fattie Aug 29 '14 at 10:42
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    And, of course w/ toddlers you have a lot of Stuff. It's a hell of a business on atrain not forgetting every little bag etc. With your own Large Private Vehicle you can just take any luggage whatsoever and pile it all up. You know those huge baby bags which Mom has? A car is like the biggest possible one of those :) Makes life incredibly easier. – Fattie Aug 29 '14 at 10:44
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    Purely FTR I just glanced at the popular rental car sites, and it seems (who knows why) cheap to rent a car for a week or two in Japan, presently. (Of course, with rental cars you never have a clue what you'll really pay after insurance comes in to play.) My guess is the whole thing would be much cheaper overall than using trains, taxis etc. – Fattie Aug 29 '14 at 11:01
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    Having just spent 3 weeks in Japan, there's no way I'd want to drive on Kyushu (we had a car on Aogashima only). JR pass all the way, it's so convenient. – Mark Mayo Aug 29 '14 at 12:23
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It's not entirely clear where your trip ends, but if you're flying out directly from Kyushu, you are probably better off purchasing the JR Kyushu Rail Pass instead. If you do need to return to Osaka, you should probably get the JR Rail Pass.

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The "northern Kyushu pass" is ¥7,200/9,260 for 3/5 days and covers Beppu, Aso and Kumamoto. If you want to go to Sakurajima (Kagoshima), you'll need to get the full Kyushu pass, which is twice as expensive at ¥14,400/17,490.

To get to Kyushu, a one-way fare from Shin-Osaka to Hakata (Fukuoka) on the fastest Nozomi service (unreserved seat) is ¥14,480, with a few extra yen if you split the journey at Hiroshima, or a few yen less if you only buy your ticket to Shimonoseki and start using a Kyushu pass there. So this plus a 5-day northern Kyushu pass would only cost you ¥23,740.

If you do have to backtrack to Osaka, the return alone will cost you ¥28,960, meaning paying ¥29,110 for a 7-day JR pass that gets you access to all of Kyushu is a no-brainer.

  • I didn't realize splitting the journey wasn't much more than the whole journey. Interesting. We will be doing a return to and from Osaka... and we had considered taking Peach or Jetstar and flying in and out (2 adults, a 4 year old and 18 mos.). My wife can't get the Sanyo + Kyushu 5-day pass... only non-JP nationals can get it, but she can get the Kyushu pass or Full JR Rail pass. It's the travel within Kyushu that I am not sure about. Is it worth it to just buy tickets inside Kyushu or get the pass? – Armstrongest Aug 29 '14 at 17:59
  • I just add to this answer that sometimes passes are not the best way to go, especially if you need to buy the very expensive one. Here's my little guide on Japanese trains: travel.kul.is/2014/09/7-tips-to-master-japanese-trains.html Have your wife check this: jrkyushu.co.jp/train/ticket01.jsp And Mt. Aso is definitely better by car. You can't get there by train, buses are full and inconvenient (went there by car). – sm4 Oct 6 '14 at 11:33

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