Where to Stay in Kyushu in 2023 - 9 Best Luxury Hotels for a Stylish Trip to Southern Japan
Do you want to explore an off-the-beaten-path side of Japan without renouncing comfort? If so, we recommend heading for the southern island of Kyushu! In this article, we've put together a list of Kyushu’s best luxury hotels together with nearby must-see highlights, so that you can enjoy a visit in style.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Part of Kagoshima Prefecture, Yakushima is a 500 km² island located in the south of Kyushu. It’s famous for its Jomon Sugi cedar tree (first picture above), which is said to be 7,200 years old. The millennia-old tree is located in the central part of the island, called Okutake, which rises 1,000-1,700 m above sea level and is surrounded by a vast primeval forest of coniferous trees. It’s one of the best places to feel the ancient power of nature. Because of its well-preserved ecosystem, Yakushima was registered as a World Natural Heritage Site in 1993 and has become one of Japan’s most coveted tourist spots.
Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima
This auberge (French-style) resort merges high-class hospitality with the natural World Heritage spoils of Yakushima. Located in the southeast of the island, where time seems to have stopped thousands of years ago, the hotel offers panoramic views of Yakushima’s tallest mountain and its vast sea, blending with the natural landscape.
The hotel offers five types of rooms, from 126 m² suites to 53 m² villas. Whichever you choose, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the natural wonders of Yakushima. If it’s privacy you’re after, we recommend the villa-type room.
The Sankara Villa Suite (first picture above) is a spacious, 104 m² accommodation with two king-size beds. While staying there, you can also rent a car or cross bike (second picture above) to tour the island and admire its mountains and sea. The spa seen in the promotional video offers two types of rooms: a single and a double. There are many treatments to choose from, like a shiatsu massage or stretching to help relax the body after a day of trekking.
Located in the center of Oita Prefecture (in northeastern Kyushu), Yufuin stretches around the foot of Mt. Yufu (first picture above), also known as the area's Mt. Fuji. It’s famed as an onsen town due to a staggering number of hot springs. Simple and without too many bells and whistles, the hot springs of Yufuin are geared towards everyday people. Yufuin offers plenty of other things besides bathing as well. There is Lake Kinrin (second picture above), which has a hot spring at its base that causes steam to rise above the surface in winter, creating a magical scene. And for fans of restaurants and souvenirs, there is the ever-popular Yunotsubo Street, lined with shops and eateries to suit all tastes.
The second kanji in the name “Ikkoten” (一壷天) means “pot” or “vase” and refers to a passage from the Book of the Later Han (which chronicles the history of the Chinese Han Dynasty) about finding pleasures from another world inside such a container. Just like in the book, you can find a whole different world of privacy at Ikkoten, which is composed of just 10 guest cottages dotting an area 7,600 m² wide. Every room is equipped with a semi-open-air hot spring bath fed directly from a natural underground source. The hot spring water is alkaline and said to have a beautifying effect on the skin. The hotel also offers two family-sized baths that can be reserved, from which you can relax and gaze upon Mt. Yufu, the symbol of the area.
Inside the hotel, you will find nothing but pure Japanese bliss and elegance. The first picture above shows the Moegi, a Japanese-style maisonette, while the second picture shows the Shinshu room. Each cottage is different, sure to satisfy any and all tastes.
Every room comes with a semi-open-air bath. If you want a view of Mt. Yufu, you’ll want to reserve the Seiheki, Suou, Kyara, or Sekichiku rooms, which fall under the “Mt. Yufu View” category. If a view of the trees is more your style, reserve a “Forest View” room, which includes the Shinshu, Ruri, Moegi, and Matsuba rooms. If you’re traveling with a group of adults, we recommend the “Private Villa” Touou or Geppaku rooms.
This vast hotel features 27 private cottages with their own open-air baths, offering guests such beautiful sights as early morning mist (seen above) with the spectacular Mt. Yufu in the background. The hotel also has a “Four Season Forest” strolling area where guests can enjoy the beauty of Japan’s four seasons.
Every room comes with its own open-air bath. Being in Yufuin, the hot spring water is alkaline, which is very good for the skin. The first picture above shows the Twin Room with Open-Air Bath - Annex (Adult Only), which features a jacuzzi bath offering beautiful views of Mt. Yufu. The second picture above shows the Executive Room with Open-Air Bath – Annex room, which also offers one-of-a-kind views of Yufuin’s nature.
If the weather conditions are right, you can enjoy the hotel baths at sunrise, with stars above your head and mist enveloping the land, creating a magical atmosphere. For those wanting to experience the best of Yufuin’s nature and hot springs, this is the hotel to do it.
Kurokawa Onsen, Kumamoto
Located in Kumamoto Prefecture (in western Kyushu), Kurokawa Onsen is a small hot spring town where the spirit of old Japan thrives. It features about 30 charming hot spring hotels surrounded by nature and mountains, many of them found alongside the clear Tanoharu River. It’s not exactly easy to get there, and for years, these secluded hot springs weren’t very well known. But now, thanks to the development of the surrounding mountain forests and a wooden 1,300-yen bathhouse ticket accepted at most Kurokawa hotels, guests can easily enjoy a dip in any three hot spring baths in the area.
The project, which first started 30 years ago, is just one way in which Kurokawa has made itself known across Japan. Now, many consider it one of the country’s premier hot spring destinations, where many exciting events are held every year. This includes the "Yuakari" festival from late December to late March, where 300 bamboo lanterns are hung above the Tanoharu River, forming a stunning scene straight out of a dream (first picture above).
Kurokawa Onsen Gosyo Gekkoujyu
Kurokawa Onsen Gosyo Gekkoujyu is a vast 13,000 m² forest complex housing only eight guest cottages, each of which offers beautiful views of the night sky above this little hot spring town. The hotel was built with the goal of allowing guests to gaze upon the moon in the middle of the forest, losing track of time to fully experience the splendor of nature.
All rooms come with their own indoor and open-air baths. They are “weak alkaline simple hot springs” that are generally suitable for anyone. Every cottage is different, so guests can choose one that best suits them. The first picture above shows the Yumihari, a modern Japanese-style room that’s as elegant as it is cozy. The second picture above shows the open-air bath at the Yumemi, which also features a hearth for that added touch of Japanese charm.
When night falls, hotel guests can enjoy the moon and the star-studded sky above them. It’s been said that this is the most beautiful view of the moon in all of Japan, so don’t miss a chance to witness it for yourself.
There isn’t a sight more Japanese than a one-story, thatched roof house surrounded by rice fields and mountain forest. This is what you get when you stay at Miyama Sansou. Every one of its guest cottages comes with a semi-open-air bath or semi + full open-air bath combo, all filled with simple hot spring water that’s safe to use by adults, children, and the elderly.
All of the rooms are Japanese-style and include a kotatsu (a low-set table covered by a futon with a heater underneath) to be used during the colder months. The windows offer spectacular natural views that change with each season. This is the perfect place to take it slowly and forget about the hustle and bustle of city life.
The above picture shows the Superior Twin Room with Open-Air Bath. Located along a river, it gives guests a chance to take a relaxing dip while enjoying the beauty of nature and listening to the pleasant sounds of the neighboring brook.
There are few things more beautiful than a mountain forest during sunset. On clear nights, you can also witness the awe-inspiring star-studded sky stretching out above you.
Takachiho, located in north Miyazaki Prefecture (western Kyushu), is perhaps best known for the Takachiho Gorge (first picture above). A designated National Site of Scenic Beauty and a natural monument, it’s famous for its cliffs lined with columnar joints (cylindrical fractures in the rockface). It’s a popular tourist spot that can be enjoyed on foot or by boat. Takachiho is also home to the Amanoiwato Shrine, a sacred site connected to the Japanese creation myth mentioned in the Kojiki, the oldest surviving Japanese written work. There are many things to do in the area, such as watching performances of the sacred kagura dance (second picture above) at the shrine’s Kagura-den hall.
Hanare no yado Kamigakure
Each of Hanare no yado Kamigakure's eight rooms (located in four guest cottages) comes with an indoor or open-air bath.
The first picture above shows the Tokiwa room, with its elegant deep green motif meant to invoke images of pines and cedars, which symbolize longevity and prosperity in Japan. The second picture above shows the red-themed Akakuchiba room, invoking images of the russet, reddish-brown leaves of late autumn trees. As you can see, maples feature prominently in the room design.
Above is the open-air Yamabuki bath, named for the Yamabuki deciduous shrub rose of the genus kerria. The bath is filled with sacred spring water from the Takachiho Gorge’s Tamadare Falls, allowing guests to cleanse their spirits along with their bodies.
Amami Oshima, Kagoshima
Amami Oshima is a 712 km² island located roughly halfway between the main island of Okinawa and Kagoshima Prefecture (southern Kyushu). Large portions are covered by forests, with many endemic species like mangrove trees (second picture above) and Ryukyu rabbits. Besides vast stretches of nature, Amami Oshima also boasts incredibly clear waters around its forest-dense shores, which make up the so-called Amami Blue Sea (first picture above), home to extensive coral reefs. You can see the coral reefs up close during diving tours, or take a canoe to explore the mangroves on a leisurely paddle. These are just examples of some of the many activities available on Amami Oshima.
Miru Amami (formerly Nest at Amami Beach Villas)
There are three types of villas available at Miru Amami. There is the POOL VILLA which comes with a private pool and observation platform offering panoramic views of the sea and the chain of mountains across the bay. There is also the OCEAN VILLA, located right on the spacious waterfront, or the STANDARD VILLA, perched on a small hill.
The first picture above shows the view from the OCEAN VILLA, where guests can enjoy the kind of peace, quiet, and splendorous nature that only Amami Oshima can offer. If you love being close to the sea, we highly recommend this option since even the bedroom (second picture above) offers great ocean views alongside soothing sound of waves.
In front of the villa, you’ll find a beautiful private beach and crystal-clear water, allowing you to enjoy the nature of Amami Oshima in style and comfort.
In the western part of Kagoshima (in southern Kyushu), you’ll find the city of Ibusuki. Also known as Satsumafuji, it’s a popular tourist destination known for the beautiful cone-shaped Mt. Kaimondake, along with the remains of a salt farm that used hot spring heat to dry mountain and river salt, and the natural sand baths where—instead of water—you can cover yourself in sand warmed by hot springs. Another popular attraction in Ibusuki is Itatetsuwamononushi Shrine, also known as Kamafuta Shrine. It’s said that if you balance the lid (futa) of a traditional rice cooker (kama) on your head, as seen in the second picture above, and manage to walk from the torii gate to the front of the shrine without dropping it, then your greatest wish will come true. It’s definitely one of the most unique forms of prayer in all of Japan!
Onsensui Pool & Fufu Rotenburo no Hanareyado Yurian
This spacious 66,000 m² hotel contains 17 guest cottages. Surrounded by nature, each one comes equipped with an open-air bath fed directly from a hot spring source and features its own unique design so that guests can choose a room that best suits them. The picture above shows the luxury-type Satsuma Villa 5, which includes a pool with unparalleled views of the bay and Ibusuki City.
The hotel features an observation platform (first picture above) which is surrounded by nature and offers views of Ibusuki City and the bay. Yurian also boasts a floating restaurant, Yukusatsumugi-tei (second picture above, in the background), where guests can enjoy meals in private rooms.
The above picture shows the luxury-type Satsuma Villa 7. Featuring plenty of green space, it also includes a pool and an open-air bath. There are a lot of villa types to choose from here, which is all part of the charm of this unique hotel.
*NOTE: Booking.com does not list all the available room types. If you cannot find the kind of room you’re looking for, please make a reservation through the hotel website (Japanese only).
Kirishima Onsen, Kagoshima
Located in northeastern Kagoshima (in southern Kyushu), Kirishima Onsen is a hot spring village located 600-850 m up the southeastern side of Mt. Kirishima. It boasts many types of hot springs as well as an old Japanese charm. Not far from the village, you’ll find southern Kyushu’s grandest and oldest place of worship, the Kirishima-Jingu Shrine (first picture above), as well as the 23-meter-tall, 16-meter-wide Maruo Falls (second picture above), one of the only waterfalls in Japan fed from a hot spring source. If it’s relaxation you’re after, then Kirishima Onsen is the place for you.
Ryokan Kirishima Yuukyu No Yado Isshin
The hotel consists of 7 guest cottages spread all around the foot of the Kirishima mountains. Each is different and features an open-air bath fed from the hotel’s private source. It’s the perfect place to relax in comfortable, private surroundings while enjoying the soothing sounds of nature.
The first picture above shows the living room of the modern Japanese-style Sakura cottage. The second picture above shows the bedroom of the unique Momiji cottage, where the open-air bath faces a Japanese-style garden and is surrounded by tatami mats.
Above is the open-air bath of the Fuji cottage. Each bath is fed directly from a bicarbonate hot spring, which is said to have a beautifying effect on the skin. It reportedly can also relieve fatigue, ease joint aches, help with sensitivity to cold, and more.
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.