travel

Kyushu with Kids 2017 – Part 1 – Mt. Aso and Kurokawa

Kyushu Fukuoka MummyEd

We visited Kyushu in Sept 2016 with the in laws, and liked it so much we decided (well actually the OCD husband did) to come back in June 2017, this time with his entire family, 14 in total.

Similar to our Epic European trip, the husband and I did most of the planning, and it turned out to be a wonderful trip for the whole family. Not to pat my own back or anything, of course 😀 So if you are thinking of heading there, and especially if you are bringing a group, this itinerary might be of some help.

Day 1 – Fukuoka to Kurokawa  

  • Arrive airport 0835am. Pick up rental car. From Budget car rental.
  • Depart airport
  • Stop at Tempura no Hirao for tempura
  • Brief stop at Tosu Premium Outlets
  • Stop by Kokonoe suspension bridge
  • Arrive at Ryokan Yamamizuki

We didn’t get to do:

  • Strawberry fields Chikushino – from airport 30mins drive. Make reservations at the website
  • Blueberrynomura – Blueberry picking at Kurume

 

We had a good experience with renting from ToCoo previously so we decided to go with them again to book a car from Budget (the previous time we used them to book a car from Nissan). The Budget car rental site is a shuttle bus ride away from the international airport, their directions to call for the bus are pretty easy to follow. Nissan and several other car rental companies are mostly located near the domestic terminal, which also requires a public shuttle bus to the domestic terminal, so all car rental companies would require a bus ride.

Tempura Hirao Fukuoka MummyEd

It took us a while to settle our 3 rental cars as well as the GPS and soon we were on our way to Tempura Hirao. We got there close to noon and just in time before the crowd really started to stream in. We waited for a short while to be seated in 3 groups of course, it’s hard to get seats for 14pax since it’s all counter seating. You can read about our previous Tempura Hirao experience, but the Tenjin branch has now closed since the whole building is undergoing renovations. This main branch is located directly across the airport, as in you can see the entire airport runway and planes landing and taking off, but you have to make a large detour around the runway if you’re landing at the international terminal. Still, I’m amused that there is such amazing food right the minute you land at the airport. Isn’t Japan awesome?!

We headed to Tosu Premium Outlets for a short break, and decided to give the strawberry and blueberry picking a miss even though they were along the way. By the time we were finished with that and ready to leave, we arrived at the Kokonoe Suspension bridge at 430pm, but they were closed for the day. So on we headed to Ryokan Yamamizuki.

Ryokan Yamamizuki was the most lovely ryokan of our entire stay. In fact we shifted our itinerary around slightly so that we could stay here as they were fully booked on other nights. I can’t recommend it enough! The grounds are beautiful, the rooms are very comfortable (with coffee machines that freshly grind the beans). We had a room overlooking the river, and the onsens also overlooked the river.

The outdoor onsen was particularly stunning.

The only thing is that there are no showers in the rooms, so you have to shower at the onsen. Which is fine, but on the night we were there, the windows to the indoor onsen were open, which made it chilly and challenging for me to shower myself and my 4 year old before dipping into the onsen. Thankfully we didn’t catch a cold! No showers would also be a problem for anyone who has a fear of public bathing. 2 people in our party didn’t even shower and only did a wipe down, and this was after a red eye flight the night before, mind you!! But yes, I guess with large groups there will also have different needs to cater to.

As we were a party of 14, and this was the first time in Japan for some of them, not to mention their first time staying in a ryokan, I emailed the ryokan a few days prior to our arrival, and asked if we were able to dine together. They arranged our dinner and breakfast in a cosy private room that had space enough for all of us. (I don’t know why I don’t have more photos of dinner?!)

Day 2 – Kurokawa

We were very reluctant to leave Ryokan Yamamizuki the next day, but we had no choice as the ryokan was fully booked for the following days and we were a party of 4 rooms. At parting, one of the ladies there suggested we make our way to Nabegataki Falls, followed by lunch at Soba Street in Minamioguni, and then to Daikanbo lookout point to see Mt. Aso. It turned out to be wonderful advice.

The Nabegataki Falls is a small waterfall but it was a nice stop and a great way to stretch your legs. There are plenty of stairs down to the waterfall, so please do not attempt if you have people with mobility issues in your group. Or, there are benches by the shop to wait for your return. You can walk behind the waterfall since that part of the volcanic rock has eroded away, and the kids had an adventure walking across the stream.

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We then headed to吾亦紅 (われもこう) for lunch. I think I found it on Tripadvisor or Google. We weren’t sure what else to eat along “Soba Street” (btw, soba is そば so you can recognise the signs), but this turned out to be quite popular and had a nice large carpark. They have menus in English. A good lunch left us all happy.

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View from Soba carpark

Now it was on to Daikanbo 大観峰展望所.

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There is no website for this look out point, but the cafe website is here. The drive here was lovely, and the views at the lookout were stunning. This was the highlight of our trip!

After spending some time walking around, and keeping the kids happy with some ice cream, we headed back up north to Kurokawa, where we were staying the night at Ryokan Wakaba. We drove through the “town”, which is an adventure on its own, given the tiny tiny streets and the number of tourists around.

If you are heading to Ryokan Wakaba, you can skip having to go through the town, and take the small lane from the main road that goes past this ryokan – Google maps is not very accurate here.

Ryokan Wakaba had very comfortable rooms, and for the 5 of us we had a large room with both a WC and a shower (not all rooms have showers), as well as 2 super single western style beds, and a tatami area where we set up a few futons. Our room didn’t have much of a view, although we could hear the main river, and the onsens were decent. At Kurokawa you can go onsen hopping but we were quite happy with our one onsen.

After changing into our yukatas, we walked around the “town” – one round takes barely 10 minutes without stops. We had their famous cream buns from Patisserie Roku. There is a Goto Liquor store 後藤酒店 near that which has a large collection of wiskeys. I like that name, everyone needs a go-to liquor store, am I right?! 😀 Many tourists arrive in Kurokawa by the bus loads during the day, so be warned.

Dinner that evening at Ryokan Kurokawa was served in a room specially for the 14 of us. At all the ryokans in Kyushu, we didn’t find the food as overwhelming as the ryokans in Kyoto and Hakone, both in terms of quantity and quality. Perhaps it is just a different style of kaiseiki?

In my next post Kyushu with Kids 2017 – Part 2 – Minamiaso, Takachiho, Fukuoka I will share the rest of our Fukuoka trip.

You can find ALL the Fukuoka posts here. but I’ve also listed them here for your easy reference:

You might also like to read about all our family travels here.

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4 thoughts on “Kyushu with Kids 2017 – Part 1 – Mt. Aso and Kurokawa

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