Last updated on February 3rd, 2024
Whether you’re planning a day trip or spending more days in Kirishima, there are some incredible things to do in Kirishima that you should check out to get the best experience of your Kirishima itinerary.
Kirishima (霧島) is an active volcanic mountain range that lies on the border between Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures. It is well-known for its natural beauty (stunning mountains, highlands, volcanic lakes, and onsen). There are a variety of indoor and outdoor onsens where you can enjoy and relax. It is also a top-rated onsen paradise for locals. While most travelers visit Kirishima as a day trip or as a short 2-day trip, some visitors opt to spend more days and explore the mountainous region.
During our exploration of South Kyushu Japan, Kirishima stood out as one of the unique places to visit. Since we traveled to Kagoshima, we decided to spend one day in Kirishima. We were not expecting much from Kirishima at first. But by the end of my trip, we were quite impressed by how amazing this place is! It has a similar vibe to Hakone but with way less crowd.
Below I’m going to share all the possibilities you could fill one day in Kirishima. This Kirishima Travel Guide blog includes my recommended Kirishima day trip itinerary, how to get from Kagoshima to Kirishima, how to get around in Kirishima, and recommendations for Kirishima accommodation.
How To Get to Kirishima
By Plane – The nearest airport is Kagoshima Airport. It is a small yet important airport that serves domestic flights from all over Japan and some international flights from Hong Kong, Korea, China, and Taiwan. Once you reach Kagoshima Airport, you can choose to travel to Kirishima by bus or by rental car.
By Train – Kirishima can be reached using public transportation. From Fukuoka, take the Shinkansen to Kagoshima Chuo (鹿児島中央) Station and then take a JR limited express train (50 minutes) or JR local train (60 minutes) to Kirishima-Jingu (霧島神宮) Station.
By Bus – From Kagoshima Chuo Station, Kirishima is reachable by several buses. If your itinerary involves many bus rides, consider getting the SunQ Pass for unlimited bus rides.
Rent a car – Although several companies offer bus service within Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park, infrequent service makes renting a car the better option. If you have an international driver’s license and are comfortable with driving in a foreign country, this is the most convenient and easy option since you won’t have to be dependent on public transport when you get to Kirishima. This is the best option if you don’t want to waste time with public transport.
Book a car rental from RentalCar.com, which you can pick up from the Kagoshima airport or in the city.
Getting Around in Kirishima by Bus
Once in the Kirishima area, you can travel to your desired destination, such as Kirishima Onsen using a Kagoshima Kotsu bus. There are six different bus routes that cover different areas of Kirishima.
Most of the time, travelers will be using Kirishima Bus route #1 to visit the major attractions in Kirishima. The bus (Route#1) operates from the station to the Kirishima shrine (15 minutes), and continues on to Maruo Onsen (30 minutes) and lastly the Kirishima Iwasaki Hotel (35 minutes).
If you are visiting Kirishima from Kagoshima Airport, bus route #3 will take you from the airport to Maruo Onsen (35 minutes), and end at Kirishima Iwasaki Hotel (42 minutes).
Infrequent buses run in the Kirishima area. It is even less during the weekend (3 buses per day) compared to weekdays (6 buses per day). It is advised to plan your Kirishima itinerary if you are using public transport.
Kirishima Kotsu Bus official website: http://www.city-kirishima.jp/kirikan/kanko/leisure/busmap.html
You can purchase the Kirishima bus pass or pay per ride. If you are taking the bus to more than 2 attractions, it is advised to get the bus pass. Besides, SunQ Pass is covered for the bus ride.
Where To Stay
The Kirishima area is doable as a day trip, but if you want to spend more time enjoying the onsen, you’ll have to make it at least a 2-days trip. Even if you are not doing a day trip, staying in Kirishima is a nice getaway from the city!
We stayed in Kirishima Hotel, one of the popular onsen resorts in Kirishima. Staying at Kirishima hotel you can enjoy the giant, theme-park-like hot springs. The Large Garden Bath is 25 meters deep, and gushes out 50 drums of hot water per minute. Truly an extremely impressive bath and amazing stay!
For more accommodation option, read on: Where To Stay in Kirishima: Best Onsen Hotel and Resort
What to do for Kirishima itinerary
There’s so much to see and surround yourself with nature while visiting the Kirishima. Here are what to do and see in the Kirishima area.
What to do and see for Kirishima itinerary:
- Kirishima Jingu Shrine
- Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park
- Enjoy Hot Spring Bath and stay in Onsen hotel
- Kirishima Onsen Market
- Maruo Falls
Note that transport arrangement is the most important part of your Kirishima itinerary. We were using public transport during our visit to Kirishima. So our Kirishima itinerary is based on the best attractions that can be reached by bus. If you are self-driving, you can explore more areas with a more relaxing vibe.
Kirishima Jingu Shrine
The main attraction that most visitors come to see is the Kirishima-Jingu Shrine.
Situated amidst a dense forest, Kirishima-Jingu Shrine is a traditional Shinto shrine with stunning lacquered columns and architecture. It is also one of Kagoshima’s best spiritual spots.
Kirishima Jingu Shrine (霧島神宮) was established in the sixth century and has a rich history.
It is dedicated to Ninigi-no-Mikoto, a deity who is considered to be one of the country’s founding fathers in Japanese mythology. Its current main building was re-constructed in 1715 and has remained there ever since.
The shrine offers breathtaking views of nature’s beauty combined with a refreshing chill due to its mountain location. Strolling around the shrine, the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful.
Kirishima Jingu Shrine (霧島神宮)
Address: 2608-5 Kirishimataguchi, Kirishima, Kagoshima 899-4201
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Length of Stay: 1 Hour
Getting to Kirishima Jingu Shrine: Take the Kagoshima Kotsu bus (Route#1) from JR Kirishima Jingu Station (霧島神宮駅) and get off at Kirishima Jingu (霧島神宮). The bus journey takes about 12 minutes.
Kirishima Travel Tip: Note that JR Kirishima Jingu Station is located more than five kilometers away from the shrine. You will need to take a bus ride or drive to get to the shrine.
Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park
Our next stop is Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park, also known as Kirishima Roadside Station. Located at an altitude of 670 m, this park is located in the Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park.
From the bus stop, we walked 3 minutes to the uphill car park area.
Our sightseeing trip started with a fun little choo choo train which goes from the car park area to the top of the hill. You can also choose to hike up the hill.
Next, take the chair lift up to the hillside to enjoy the view. The views are spectacular, you can see all the way to the sea and even the volcano Sakurajima from there.
Lastly, take the lunge slider down. It is super play and easily controls the speed with a stick at the front part of it. The slider is so fun and a must-try!
At the top of the hill, there is a resting area with a bench and table for a quick break. There is nothing much to do on the hill, but the marvelous view.
We spend some time enjoying the view at Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park.
There are also many family-friendly fun activities such as grass sliding, miniature golf, rabbit-feeding, and a roadside restaurant where you can spend half a day. All the activities are very reasonable price. It will be worth your time, especially for those with small kids.
Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park (霧島神話の里公園)
Address: 2583-22 Kirishimataguchi, Kirishima City, Kagoshima.
Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00 to 17:00.
Admission Fee: Free. Only pay for the rides
Official Website (Japanese): https://www.shinwanosato.jp/
Recommended Length of Stay: 1 – 2 Hours
Getting to Kirishima Shinwa no Sato Park: Take the Kagoshima Kotsu bus (Route#1) from Kirishima Jingu (霧島神宮) and get off at Shinwa no Sato Entrance (神話の里入口). The bus journey takes about 4 minutes.
Enjoy Hot Spring Bath
What is Kirishima without a visit to the onsen? The most popular activities of Kirishima remained to be enjoyed: its famous hot springs.
Kagoshima is the country’s leading hot spring region with many of these hot springs found in the Kirishima area. There are plenty of hot springs in the Kirishima region, and various types of hot springs as well. Traveling around Kirishima will give you a great chance to experience different types of hot springs easily.
End your Kirishima itinerary by soaking into the onsen or staying in the hot spring hotel.
After the fun day in Kirishima, we were heading to our onsen hotel to enjoy the hot spring bath. We choose to spend the night at Kirishima Hotel for the ultimate onsen experience.
Our stay included a hearty dinner and breakfast. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring Kirishima. See my Kirishima Hotel Review to know more details about our amazing stay!
Getting to Kirishima Hotel: Depending on your direction, take the Kagoshima Kotsu bus (Route #1, #2, #3) and get off at Sulfur Valley (硫磺谷).
Kirishima Onsen Market
The next morning on Kirishima itinerary, we took the bus from the Kirishima hotel to Kirishima Onsen Market.
Located in the center of Kirishima Onsen town, Kirishima Onsen Market (霧島温泉市場) is the central spot for the Maruo Onsen with restaurants, souvenir shops, a tourist information center, and footbath facilities.
The market is also the main public transport hub in the area. The intersection has a few bus stops in different directions. Many accommodations offering onsen day visit also can be found in the area.
At the market square, you can also try the volcanic hot spring steam food including eggs, sweetcorn, and mochi rice cakes here. A perfect spot to take a break.
Getting to Kirishima Onsen Market: Take the Kagoshima Kotsu bus and get off at Maruo (丸尾) or Maruo Onsen (丸尾温泉).
After the quick break, we walked to the nearby Maruo Falls. The waterfall is located right along the road and you’ll see road signs prominently marked for Maruo Falls.
The Maruo Falls (丸尾滝) is a picturesque 23-m tall waterfall of hot spring water. Despite being smaller in size compared to other falls in Japan, Maruo Falls is a gorgeous waterfall. It is more impressive when seeing it in person.
There is a viewing platform where you can enjoy the beautiful view. Noted that Maruo Falls is not for those who are looking for hiking or to be closer to nature.
The beautiful falls and the blue pond below makes for great photo opportunities. Not very spectacular but worth it for a short detour.
Getting to Maruo Falls: Maruo Falls is easily accessible to reach by car and even by foot if you are in the area. From Kirishima Onsen market, walked for 10 minutes to the Maruo Falls.
Overall: A Visit to Kirishima
All in all, we truly enjoy our visit to Kirishima. Our visit to Kirishima bring us a various of highlights including a beautiful view, sacred Shinto shrines, hot springs to soothe your travel fatigue, and more. The area is hard to get there due to infrequent public transport. Still, it is doable with the well-plan itinerary.
In short, Kirishima is definitely a must-visit and highly recommended.
Related Kirishima and Kagoshima Travel Blog:
- Where To Stay in Kirishima: Best Onsen Hotel and Resort
- Kirishima Hotel Review: Ultimate Onsen Experience
- Kagoshima itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog
- Day Trip Sakurajima Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog
- Where To Stay in Kagoshima: Best Areas and Hotels
Visiting Kyushu and looking for some inspiration for what to do in Kyushu then be sure to read our Kyushu travel blog here:
- How To Plan Your Kyushu Itinerary: Ultimate Guide
- Fukuoka Itinerary: Ultimate Travel Guide
- Things To Do in Kumamoto: 1-Day Itinerary
- Takachiho Gorge Travel Guide: 1-Day Itinerary Blog
- Yufuin Travel Guide: Must Eat Food And Things To Do
- Beppu Itinerary: Ultimate Travel Guide Blog
- Kurokawa Onsen: A Guide To Natural Hot Spring Town
- Nagasaki Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog