Few motorists ever get to the remotest areas of Kyushu and that’s too bad because some of the nicest country and friendliest people can be found there. I’ve often had discussions with my English conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 about driving in western Japan. They are genuinely surprised to learn that I have been to the southern tip of Kagoshima at least eight times but flown there only once.
Most people driving to Kyushu lose a lot of time going all the way to the West tip of Honshu in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Recent articles about driving to Izumo Taisha and Unzen Dake talked about this a lot. Crossing over to Kyushu from Honshu only makes sense if your destination is Fukuoka Prefecture. Any other target in Kyushu makes a drive clear across Shikoku and taking a short ferry at Sadamisaki-hanto into Oita Prefecture the easiest and shortest way to go.
Well, my wife’s parents have lived their lives just inside Kagoshima about thirty miles from Hitoyoshi, the larger town in Kumamoto Prefecture. The area is well-known and highly-respected for sweet potato shochu. This historic JR Hitoyoshi station is interesting for its clock-controlled merry-go-round display at the top. Central Kyushu is stunning and you really ought to drive around. I recommend a good SUV with high ground clearance because a lot of the roads are underdeveloped.
Martin Werner Zander