Hello guys! This is a very late blog about my Japan trip in Kyushu last year, so I am so sorry for the late update. Anyway, I hope this blog finds you well especially if you are eyeing for or planning to go around Kyushu and don’t have an itinerary yet. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas.
♡ So here goes my story ♡
My ticket to Japan is only for 4 days and 4 nights. It’s quite short, and I couldn’t stay longer as much as I wanted to, so I made a pact with myself and just made sure to make the most out of those 4 days. So while my travel buddies didn’t want to move around Japan that much, I forced them. Instead of just staying in Fukuoka – our point of entry – I pushed to visit Oita, Saga and Nagasaki as well. We spent one day and one night at each place and really explored them till our hearts are satisfied!
Now, that strategy might look a little tiring and make you think that exploring one city in all 4 days is the way to go, but trust me, it’s worth it. Yes, I had to drag my luggage each time I checked out from one hotel and checked in another (which is truly a hassle), but I think it would have been a bigger waste of my time, money, and experience to just stay in one city and be surrounded by buildings all day (I can always see buildings in my own city if I wanted to). So I did not regret my decision.
But anyways, my expenses for the whole trip was pretty low compared to what I expected.
|Travel Tax||1,620.00 ₽|
|Round-trip Plane Ticket (c/o Cebu Pacific)||4,000.00 ₽|
|Nagasaki One Day Tram Pass||250.00 ₽|
|Northern Kyushu Rail Pass||5,000.00 ₽|
|Kashima Honkan||1,750.00 ₽|
|Nogami Honkan||720.00 ₽|
|Sunlife Hotel 2.3||1,375.00 ₽|
|APA Hotel Saga Ekimae||1,750.00 ₽|
|Entrance Fees||1,500.00 ₽|
First night in Japan: Fukuoka
Hotel: Sunlife Hotel 2.3
Since Fukuoka is our entry point from Manila to Japan, we stayed there on the night of our arrival. Our plane touched down around 8pm so we took the night free shuttle ride to Hakata Station where we exchanged our Northern Kyushu JR voucher for a pass. (To those of you who don’t know, Northern Kyushu JR Pass allows you unlimited train rides in Northern Kyushu for a specified period of time depending on the amount you purchase.) As soon as we got our pass, we went straight to Sunlife 2.3 Hotel – our hotel – which is just a strategic 2 minute walk from Hakata Station and dumped our stuff. And then we went out for a night walk around the city where we saw tons of college students and employees hangout with their friends and lovers on the streets. We even had a midnight dinner near the station and guess what! Apparently, tons of Japanese employees do the same thing. It’s not for midnight fun, but really just for a midnight dinner before going home. How’s that for a start!
Midnight dinner ¥350 (₱175)
Sadly I forgot the name of the place, but looking at that background, I can read that it’s a Chicken Champon food place.
First Day: Beppu, Oita
Hotel: Nogami Honkan
Destinations: Beppu Hell Springs, Yunohana Huts in Myoban
In our first full day trip, we went to Beppu in Oita which is the Onsen capital of Japan. When you go to Kyushu, make sure to go there because a Japan trip will not be a Japan trip if you don’t try soaking in an Onsen even once and there is no better place to do that but in Beppu! If you came from Fukuoka, it is just an hour and a half or so train ride from Hakata Station.
We woke up very early in the morning to catch the first train. 6am in the morning and we were already out and about. It was very nice because even if we didn’t know the people around the place, as soon as we met eyes with them, many, especially the elder ones and those having their early morning jog greeted us “Ohayou! (Good morning)” with smile on their faces. A great way to lighten up our day!
A bit of a side story here and a very important one if you will ever visit. When you ride the train to Beppu, don’t get shocked if at some point the people sitting around you stand up and turn their seat around. You might think that the train will back track and go back to Hakata (because that was our reaction and we were laughing crazy), but no. The train will shift lanes to go to Beppu. So don’t panic! If you don’t know how to turn your own seat, just follow what everybody else will do. There’s a knob at the corner of your seat that you can hold to turn it around, and there’s a pedal under the seat that you have to step on while you turn it. But if you don’t know how to, most likely they will help you just like they did to us.
Seats in the Sonic Limited train to Beppu, Oita (with the knobs)
As soon as we got off the Beppu Station, we immediately went to the Ryokan we will be staying at to drop off our luggage. We checked in Nogami Honkan Ryokan which is just a traditional Japanese inn only 5 minute walk from the station. It is a very convenient place to stay at because it is part of the “tour the city” promo in Beppu. That means we got a very huge discount of 40%! If it’s your first time to check in their place, they also give you 1 hour private Onsen bath! That is so great especially if you’re one of those people who want to experience the beauty of soaking in an onsen without having to be stark naked in front of other people. I highly recommend this place if you ever want to visit Beppu.
Right after we drop off our stuff, we went back to Beppu station to go to the Tourist information desk. There I conversed a bit with the English speaking tourist guide (in Japanese because he’s such a bully when he learned I study Japanese). He helped me with my travel itinerary for the day.
If you are a student in your home country, I suggest you bring your school I.D. with you because if you are a student, they will give you a discount for the 1 day bus pass in Beppu.
Here’s a picture of the 1 day bus pass, plus the bus time table the tour guide gave me.
With the bus pass, our first stop is the Jigoku Hell Springs Tour!
Jigoku Hell Springs are top places to visit in Beppu. There you will see springs boiling in temperatures higher than 100 celsius. They have different components so some of them have different colors. Some are blue, red, and gray and are very amusing to look at.
Chinoike (Blood Pond) Hell
Me, my colleague and her cousin at the Teppan restaurant in front of Chinoike.
Yummy Yakisoba for only ¥400 (₱200)
After our hell springs tour, we went to see the Yunohana Huts in Myoban. Inside the huts, they grow Yunohana crystals from the hot springs minerals. These crystals are said to be good for your skin.
After the Yunohana tour, we went back to the main part of the city to buy food in the kombini (convenience store) before we headed back to the ryokan and rested. We watched TV (in Japanese because we’ll feel the Japanese spirit that way) and prepared for bed time. While my travel mates were asleep though, I went to the private onsen to experience my first ever Japanese onsen bath! I was really nervous because I was scared someone might barge in while I was bathing but I’m thankful that did not happen. xD
Picture of me wearing a Yukata on my way to the private Onsen at 12mn! Sorry no picture in the onsen because… you know. Stuff. 😀
Just like I did, I suggest have your private onsen bath close to midnight because by then everybody else is asleep and there’s less chance that people might accidentally see you naked in the private bath like what my colleague experienced. It also helps you sleep better if you’re refreshed.
The very next day, I woke up to the sound of crows doing their “ka..ka..ka” sound. It’s a very unique experience because never in my life have I ever been woken up by crows. Only in Japan. And it’s cool! Also, when we checked out of the ryokan and went straight to the station to go to our next destination, we were impressed to see crows crossing pedestrian lanes as if they know traffic rules. It was hilarious!
Second day: Saga adventure
Hotel: APA Saga Hotel Ekimae
Destination: Yoshinogari Kouen
Saga, in my opinion, is the best place among all four of the prefectures I visited. I like its rural ambiance and its the one that made me feel like “Wow! This is really Japan! And I feel like I’m a real Japanese!” However, this is also the hottest place I visited. I really got tanned skin in the one day I stayed there (mainly because we walked around the town for hours under the scorching sun at noon but still! HOT!). I liked the whole experience though because it really felt like an adventure.
From the Beppu Station we rode the Sonic Limited train again back to Hakata, and then from Hakata we rode the JR Nagasaki Line to Saga. As you already know the routine, we dropped our stuff at the hotel of our choice which is the APA Hotel Saga Ekimae, just a 5 minute walk from the station. And then we went back to the station to catch the local line to Yoshinogari Kouen – our first and only destination in Saga.
We spent a total of 4 hours in there because it’s such a huge place! 4 hours and we still haven’t seen everything in it! That’s also why I became so tanned! 4 hours under the sun but that’s okay because it’s a Japanese sunburn anyway. xD
Picture at the entrance with our straw hats (I guess for protection from the sun)
Yoshinogari Kouen is an outstanding archaeological site that showcases a large settlement from the Yayoi period (300BCE to 300 CE). It features several pit dwellings, store houses, and thousands of tombs. This place definitely brings you back to the past and is almost like a time capsule.
Inside a Japanese pit dwelling with my Japanese mannequin friends, waiting for my turn to have my hair fixed 😀
Strolling around the park and look how dark I became. Nice skies though.
Walkway to the huts in Kitanaikaku
These sharp objects, the huge pit between them and the gates used to prevent thieves, invaders, and outsiders from entering the properties.
More pit dwellings and an elevated store house at the back
An unearthed tomb. The remains of the person is placed in a jar and then the jar is buried.
After a long tour in the Yoshinogari Kouen, we went to a nearby supermarket and bought our Omiyage (take home presents for our families). A very cool experience too because we didn’t expect Japan to be super automated in everything. We expected their advanced technology, but we didn’t imagine that their cashier personnel don’t accept cash payments (like they do in our own home country). Apparently, in Japan, the cashier personnel only job is to swipe the items to compute the price! You have to be the one to get your own plastic bag and put all your purchases inside. As for the payment, you put it in a slot machine and it gives you your exact change. That was so shocking to our senses, but that was really awesome!
Me and my colleague outside Morinaga Supermarket with our Omiyage!
A shot in front of the Yoshinogari station before we go back to our hotel
That night, I went out of my way to go shopping for a retro game my brother asked me to buy. I gambled because I didn’t know how to go to the game shop especially at night. All I had as a guide was a piece of paper with a screenshot of google map filled with Japanese characters that I didn’t understand. I managed to get by though. How? By counting how many stoplights there were in the screenshot! HAHAHA! Worse, it rained hard. The paper got wet and the colors all blurred. I felt screwed. But good thing I managed to count the number of stoplights there were in the map before the tragedy happened. There were 32! So 32 stoplights later I arrived at my destination, soaking wet from the rain because my umbrella sucked. Good thing I got to buy the thing!
The shop. The HEAVEN! It felt like heaven seeing this after all the things that happened.
The freaking thing.
Third day: Nagasaki
My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I hurt all over from all the walking the day before. But I’m still happy because again, it’s a Japanese pain! And I was willing to endure more pain. From Saga station, we went to Nagasaki via the JR Nagasaki line. And once in Nagasaki, we looked for our other travel buddies that we were supposed to meet up with over there. We went to the APA Nagasaki Hotel Ekimae where they were staying, and then from there started our ultimate Nagasaki experience. (By the way, we didn’t reserve a hotel in Nagasaki because we’ll go back straight to Fukuoka that night – where our next and final ryokan is. Next day is the last day.)
In front of Nagasaki Station (We don’t look like it, but believe us we’re excited for the day!)
Group pose near Nagasaki Station
We bought our 1 day unlimited tram pass at the station and that’s what we’ll use to tour the whole of Nagasaki in a day. We actually managed to go to all sorts of places with that pass. It was so worth it. I think it was just ¥500 (₱250).
At the foot of Nagasaki Peace Park where the beautiful flowers are
The Nagasaki Peace Statue
Professor/workmate inside the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
Shots of the Nagasaki ruins after the atomic bomb hit
Pictures of diseases that killed many people in Japan as an after effect of the atomic bombing
After our 2 hours tour inside the Nagasaki Bomb Museum where most of the important things to see in Nagasaki are, we had or lunch at the Chinese town where we had the famous Nagasaki Champon!
Picture picture first at the Chinese restaurant before eating our Champon 🙂
After our Champon eating experience, we had some ice cream for dessert and took a picture in front of the Chinese town gate before we head of to our next destination – Dejima.
Picture of us while we’re getting lost and couldn’t find out way to Dejima HAHAHA At least we got a nice picture near the dock? 😀
Finally found Dejima and got greeted by my Samurai boyfriend? xD
The Dejima Model inside Dejima
Taken inside an old storage house in Dejima
Finally, to conclude the Nagasaki tour, we had a dinner before we parted ways. We went back to Fukuoka that night where we had our reservation in the Kashima Honkan Ryokan 15 minutes from the Hakata Station.
Day 4: Fukuoka Misadventure in the Last Day
Hotel: Kashima Honkan
Day 4 is our last day in Japan, and this is the day we dedicated to Shrine hopping. We went to several shrines before we made our way to the Canal City – a huge place to buy all sorts of stuff. It’s basically the biggest Mall in Fukuoka (and maybe Kyushu?)
This day was the most troublesome day though because for some reason we lost our maps. We relied on internet connections that we could connect to throughout Fukuoka just to find our way. However, I can’t say that this is a bad day, since it was pretty fun. HAHAHA We thought we’re lost but our destinations were always just in front of us.
At the Shofukuji Temple, the first ever Zen temple in Japan
Tochoji Temple belongs to the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. It was founded in 806 CE.
In front of the huge Canal City planning to buy more stuff to bring home
Food trip at KFC in Canal City. No rice D; Why is there no rice! The lemon juice was good though! After this, we went back to our ryokan to check out. (Sadly, it’s time to leave Japan! And I still didn’t want to go back!)
Workmate preparing her stuff before we leave
Last shot in Japan. The stairs with all the slippers. Proof that in Japan people leave their outdoor shoes and slippers outside.
And that people, concludes my first ever experience in Japan. I wish I could go back again. There are still a lot of things I want to see there that I haven’t and if given the chance I will gladly take another flight to go there.
Hopefully, with this I convinced you to visit Kyushu? By the way, my total expenses (everything included) is just ₱27,000 or roughly $546! I think that’s already very cheap but I was still able to make the best out of my stay. So I think you guys will also have a lot of fun in Kyushu if you choose to visit.
But anyway, I was so happy and I loved the experience!