This journey through the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands takes in local cuisine, relaxing onsens, and strikingly diverse landscapes. Tesia Smith, a member of the T+L A-List of top travel advisors, can book this and similar tours. From $500 per day.
From Tokyo, take a two-hour flight to Fukuoka, a city on the island’s northern shore. Book your return flight from Kagoshima, on the southern side.
Spend the day in Fukuoka’s Hakata District exploring the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and the eighth-century Kushida Shrine. A food tour by Fukuoka Walks encompasses the Yanagibashi Rengo Fish Market, a department-store food hall, and street vendors. Stay at the Grand Hyatt.
Drive two hours south to Kurokawa, a classic hot-spring town. Check in to Yamamizuki Ryokan and soak in its outdoor baths next to a peaceful river before a kaiseki dinner and a night on a traditional tatami.
Drive two hours south to the mountain town of Takachiho, then rent a rowboat to navigate the Gokase River, which winds through the dramatic Takachiho Gorge, passing waterfalls. Continue driving two hours along Kyushu’s eastern coast to Kirishima-Yaku National Park. Stay at Wasure no Sato Gajoen, a collection of cottages on the bank of the Amorigawa River.
Check out more of Kirishima-Yaku’s active volcanoes, magnificent woodlands, and rustic onsens before the 90-minute drive to Kagoshima for your return flight.