Kyushu Shinkansen (Hakata–Kumamoto–Kagoshima-chuo)
The Kyushu Shinkansen runs from Hakata Station to Kagoshima-chuo Station with some services connecting to the San’yo Shinkansen line and running as far as Shin-Osaka Station. On this page you will find the following information:
Japan’s shinkansen network really is a marvel. Spanning-out across the entire country, it is quick, comfortable and easy to use. No trip to Japan is truly complete without using it at least once. International visitors will find the Kyushu Shinkansen easy and convenient to use noting that one services on the line – the ‘Mizuho’ service – is not covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass – more on that below. This won’t affect any travel plans as all other services are covered, offering the fastest way to move through southern Japan.
KYUSHU SHINKANSEN LINE MAP & STATIONS
Running from Hakata Station in Fukuoka Prefecture to Kagoshima-Chuo Station in Kagoshima Prefecture, the Kyushu Shinkansen covers around 260km and is the primary transport route through the southern region of Japan. Stops on the line include:
Regional lines connect with many of these stations, providing access to Nagasaki and other popular destinations in Nagasaki. The ‘West Kyushu Shinkansen’ line running from Nagasaki Station to Takeo Onsen Station is set to open in September 2022. This short track of only 66 kilometres and 5 stations will eventually be extended to connect with the main Kyushu Shinkansen line.
TYPES OF SERVICES
Three types of service operate on the line however it’s important to that that international visitors holding a valid Japan Rail (JR) Pass can only use two of those services -the ‘Sakura’ and ‘Tsubame’ – as discussed below:
Mizuho Hakata to Kagoshima-chuo: 75 minutes
The ‘Mizuho’ is the fastest service operating on the Kyushu Shinkansen line, only stopping at Hakata, Kumamoto and Kagoshima-chuo. Operating regularly throughout the day, some services connect through to the San’yo Shinkansen line at Hakata and run onto Shin-Osaka Station and stopping at Hiroshima, Okayama and a couple other stops (depending on the specific service). To travel all the way from Kagoshima-chuo to Shin-Osaka takes between 220 to 260 minutes. Mizuho services have non-reserved, reserved and Green Car carriages. It is important to note that the JR Pass does not cover this service.
Sakura Hakata to Kagoshima-chuo: 95 minutes
The ‘Sakura’ is the second fastest service on the line and stops at more stations, but not all, enroute from Hakata to Kagoshima-chuo. There is usually one departure each hour, with some services also continuing onto the San’yo Shinkansen line and travelling as far as Shin-Osaka Station. Sakura services include both 8-car and 6-car trains. The 8-car version has non-reserved, reserved and Green Car carriages while the 6-car has only non-reserved and reserved carriages with no Green Car. The JR Pass covers this service.
Tsubame Hakata to Kagoshima-chuo: 110 minutes
The ‘Tsubame’ is the slowest service, stopping at all stations between its start and end point. Most services operate from Hakata to Kumamoto with only a couple travelling all the way to Kagoshima-chuo. It has a 6-car format with both non-reserved and reserved seating but no Green Class carriage. This service is covered by the JR Pass.
TYPES OF CARRIAGES & SEATING
Depending on the service, trains running on the Kyushu Shinkansen line have either 8 cars or 6 cars. All services on the line have both non-reserved and reserved seating carriages. Almost all services also have a Green Car. At this time, no Kyushu Shinkansen services include a Gran Class carriage:
Most carriages on any shinkansen service will be comprised of ordinary cars. Standard configuration of shinkansen carriages throughout Japan has 5 seats per row separated by an aisle, with 3 seats on one side and 2 seats on the other – a standard 3 x 2 layout. However, some trains running on the Kyushu Shinkansen – including reserved seating on Sakura services and all seating on Tsubame services – have a 2 x 2 layout. Regardless of the format, seats are comfortable and recline with reasonable legroom available. Each seat has a tray table which folds down from the seat in front and power access for charging electronic devices. Overhead storage is available above each seat however it is worth noting that larger luggage can be difficult to store. All services on the Kyushu Shinkansen line have both non-reserved carriages.
Most shinkansen services throughout Japan will have one Green Car, identified by a green four-leaf clover symbol*. These cars are reservation only and slightly more expensive than seating in an ordinary car. Seats are more spacious and comfortable with more legroom. There are only 4 seats per row, divided by an aisle with 2 seats each side – a 2 x 2 layout. More generous spacing also allows more room for luggage. Extra features including a reading lamp and footrest make the Green Car comfortable. Popular with business travellers, these carriages are typically quiet and can be compared to business class on an airline. For the relatively small price difference, Green Car is a good option for travellers who want that extra bit of comfort and quiet.
*it is important to note that 6-car Sakura services and all Tsubame do not include a Green Cars.
CONNECTION TO THE SAN’YO SHINKANSEN
The San’yo Shinkansen runs from Shin-Osaka Station and Hakata Station. Many ‘Mizuho’ services run along both lines, effectively connecting stations on the Kyushu Shinkansen line to those on the San’yo line including Hiroshima, Okayama and of course, Osaka without the need of transferring at Hakata Station. Should you need to, shinkansen services operate from Platforms 11 to 16 at Hakata Station. It’s just a matter of checking the operating platform of the service you wish to take and using the stairs to walk between platforms – no more than a one or two minute walk.
FARES & TIMETABLES
Numerous services operate on the Kyushu Shinkansen line each day. For details including the timetable, refer to our ‘Kyushu Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
Obviously fares will vary greatly depending on your start and end point and whether you wish to book a non-reserved (NR), reserved (R) or Green Car (GR) carriage, But as a guide, the following prices are accurate as of April 2022*:
Hakata to Kumamoto = NR. JPY4700 / R. JPY5230 / GR. JPY6800.
Hakata to Shin-Yatsushiro = NR. JPY5390 / R. JPY5920 / GR. JPY7490.
Hakata to Kagoshima-chuo = NR. JPY10,110 / R. JPY10,640 / GR. JPY13,260.
Hakata to Hiroshima = NR. JPY8570 / R. JPY9310 / GR. JPY12,970.
Hakata to Shin-Kobe = NR. JPY14,420 / R. JPY15,270 / GR. JPY20,140.
Hakata to Shin-Osaka = NR. JPY14,750 / R. JPY15,600 / GR. JPY21,670.
*Please note that pricing is subject change and the above prices should be used only as a guide.
TICKETING & TRAVEL PASSES
Tickets can be purchased at any major station using the shinkansen ticket machines or Japan Rail office (both will be clearly marked). English-speaking attendants are usually on-hand to assist at major stations. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online up to 30 days in advance of your intended date of travel.
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travellers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of shinkansen and other train services.
JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the Japan Rail (JR) Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travellers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars. The JR Pass allows for use on Kyushu Shinkansen, other than ‘Mizuho’ services. Despite that restriction the pass offers great value for anyone intending to use the network to move around Japan.
30 THINGS TO DO AROUND KYUSHU & WHERE TO STAY
Lying to the southwest of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Kyushu is a region blessed with attractions, from the historic to the natural and the exotic. Fukuoka is the largest city in Kyushu while Nagasaki’s history transcends the national to occupy a place in the global consciousness. Kumamoto and its famous castle or Kagoshima and its nearby natural splendours including the World Heritage island of Yakushima, all combine to make this one of the most rewarding travel destinations in Japan. Our ’30 Things to Do Around Kyushu & Where to Stay’ page is a great place to start when planning your visit to the region.
PLAN YOUR VISIT TO JAPAN
The Kyushu Shinkansen is just one part of Japan’s fantastic rail network. Unfathomable in its size and efficiency, moving around the country by train is easy and comfortable opening-up all regions of Japan for exploration. Our ‘Plan Your Visit’ page has everything you need to know about visiting Japan – from tips on the best time to travel, times to avoid, entering and exiting the country, money matters, staying connected, accommodation, staying safe and healthy and plenty more to ensure that you get the most out of your time here.