For this trip to Japan, I’ll be exploring some of the best hiking trails that can be found around the island of Kyushu.
Japan has an incredible selection of hiking routes to explore, especially on the Kyushu island in the south.
Some awesome outdoor opportunities for adventure seekers await over on Kyushu.
Kyushu is also known for being the ”hot spring island” of Japan. Hot springs or onsen can be found across the country but especially on Kyushu.
Due to the volcanic activity on the island, many of the hot springs are naturally heated. Perfect for relaxing after a long day of hiking.
On this trip, I’ll be visiting three prefectures around Kyushu starting in Oita, then going onwards to Miyazaki and ending the trip in Kagoshima.
Here is my travel guide to some of my favourite hiking spots around the island of Kyushu, Japan.
Travelling to the island of Kyushu, Japan
From London, UK, you can easily fly to Tokyo with several airlines. I would recommend flying to Haneda Airport as you have better domestic connections to Kyushu from there.
From Tokyo, you can fly to several domestic airports around Kyushu, such as Oita, Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Kumamoto or Miyazaki.
Japan Airlines and ANA offer frequent international and domestic flights to connect you from London to the island of Kyushu.
In the summertime, you can fly from London to Fukuoka, Japan with Finnair via a connection in Helsinki, Finland which can save some time.
Another option is to take the train. From Tokyo or Osaka, you can connect with Hakata (Fukuoka) on the Shinkansen within a few hours, and then you can travel on the regional train network or local Kyushu Shinkansen to explore the rest of the island of Kyushu.
You can also travel by boat from Busan, South Korea to Fukuoka, which is a great option if you wish to combine the two countries and connect the hiking trails.
There are many different transportation options to reach Kyushu and start your hiking adventure around the island.
Arrive in Oita and explore Usuki and Taketa
Oita and Beppu are great starting points as they have a local airport (Oita Airport) where you can arrive on a domestic flight. You could also easily be connected by local train from Fukuoka, once you’ve taken the Shinkansen to Hakata Station.
I’d recommend staying at the JR Kyushu Hotel Blossom Oita for its perfect central location allowing you to explore the city of Oita and maybe try some Izakaya Japanese style BBQ bar snacks which go great with beer and are popular to try in the city.
The hotel also gives you access to your first onsen experience. This hot spring is special as it’s located on the hotel roof and offers a relaxing panoramic view of the surrounding Oita area.
In the morning, head to the old town of Usuki, try some soy sauce flavoured ice cream (you have to try it!), see the remaining foundations and walls of the castle grounds and enjoy the picturesque views of the surrounding rice fields.
Another popular attraction to visit in Usuki is the selection of Stone Buddhas that are on display close to the city.
Then, head on towards the Inazumi Underwater Cave and continue further to Harajiri Falls.
For the night, I’d recommend staying in a Japanese guest house (ryokan) called Takeda Saryo in Takeda city.
Staying at a ryokan can be rather pricey but you should try it at least once while you’re on Kyushu to enjoy this unique Japanese guest house experience.
Normally the price is good value as your room will include a large dinner (around 8-12 small dishes) as well as a Japanese style breakfast in the morning.
Your room will have a traditional tatami floor with paper-thin sliding doors as well as access to an onsen.
Be sure to treat yourself and try this special Japanese experience.
Hiking around the Fujikawachi Valley in the Sobo, Katamuki and Okue biosphere reserve
Perfectly nestled between the prefectures of Oita and Miyazaki on the island of Kyushu, you will find the Fujikawachi Valley located in the the Sobo, Katamuki and Okue biosphere reserve.
Here you can find a trail that will take you to Kannon Falls as you hike up through the scenic gorge.
This route is also popular for canyoning in the summertime, following a route down the gorge.
I think the hike is equally as beautiful in the autumn as the forest comes to life with the leaves changing colour.
This hike will take you around three to four hours to complete towards Kannon Falls and back.
Once you make it to the waterfall, I’d suggest having a picnic and enjoying the views.
At the end of the trail, you will also find a public onsen called Yutopia where you can relax after a fun day of hiking.
For the night, stay at En City Hotel Nobeoka as it’s located between two hiking trails so you can prepare for the next day ahead.
For dinner you have to try the local fried chicken and special mayonnaise sauce from the city of Nobeoka, it’s tasty.
You can try this local popular dish at Syusen Koubou Genta which is a local Japanese izakaya spot with many local dishes to choose from.
Head further to the Sobo, Katamuki and Okue biosphere reserve
On the following day, head up further to the Sobo, Katamuki and Okue biosphere reserve. This path will be around a four-hour round trip.
At the end of the path, you will find the Pac-Man Rock which looks similar to the popular iconic Japanese video game.
It’s also perfectly located close to a stunning waterfall.
Again be sure to bring a packed lunch and enjoy the view once you reach the destination.
The trail goes through the Shishigawa Valley in the Miyazaki Prefecture.
Hiking up to the top of Mt. Takachihonomine
Spend the day hiking up to the top of Mt. Takachihonomine which is part of the National Parks Japan and was one of the first set up in Kyushu.
You can start your hike from the Mt. Takachihonomine Visitor Center where you can pick up loads of information about all the hiking routes you can take around the area.
It’s also a good point to start your hike to Mount Takachiho which will take you around 3-4 hours to complete going up to a level of 1,574m in total.
The landscape is rather unique due to the past volcanic activity and the conditions reminded me a lot of hiking in Iceland.
Also, halfway to the peak of Mount Takachiho, you will come across Shinmoedake crater. You will walk around the edge of the crater, which is rather exciting and interesting to see.
From the top of the peak, you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area. You can even see Sakurajima, an active volcano located next to the city of Kagoshima from a far distance.
I’d highly recommend this hike as it was my favourite of the trip and also the most challenging.
Kirishima offers a number of challenging hikes in the area and you could easily spend a week exploring them all so this a great place to base yourself for hiking in Japan and on Kyushu island.
It’s also worth visiting Kirishima Shrine if you have the time, and you can find a selection of waterfalls scattered around the area.
The surrounding area of Kirishima is also a nice place to be based after the hike to enjoy a relaxing onsen. Due to the geothermal activity, this is a hot spot for hot springs.
I stayed at the La Vista Kirishima Hills hotel which offers an Italian themed vibe with Italian/Japanese fusion food, and there is a large selection of onsens to choose from including three private ones which are fun to enjoy after a long day of hiking.
Spend some time in the city of Kagoshima
Why not head to Kagoshima city for a day or two before you head back home? There you can explore the Senganen Garden, for instance.
Head over to the Sakurajima volcano island by local ferry (runs every 15 minutes) and enjoy the scenic view of the active volcano.
Once you’re on the island, enjoy a free public foot spa (don’t forget your towel!) as well as some sweet potato ice cream.
Kagoshima also has a unique tram system which is a fun way to explore the city.
Kagoshima has direct trains to Fukuoka or you can fly from Kagoshima airport back to Tokyo.
The great thing about the airport is they have a foot spa onsen you can enjoy just before your flight, how cool is that! What can I say, the city loves a good public foot spa.
Thank you for reading about hiking on Kyushu island
Kyushu is full of great hiking routes and I hope that the island comes across as an exciting destination to go hiking on your next trip to Japan.
Please feel free to message me for any further information you might have and I’ll be happy to help. Have an awesome time exploring Kyushu island on your next trip.