Planning to do a self drive at Kyushu, Spring or Autumn.
Here is a general itinenary.
- Canal City Hakata
- Mt Inasa
- Dazaifu Tenmangu
- Kuchinotsu Port - Dolphin
- Car ferry, Shimabara Port to Kumamoto Port
- Tenmonkan Shopping Street
- Saraku Sand Bath Hall
- Car ferry, Kagoshima port to Sakurajima Port
- Arimura Lava Observatory
- Kurokami Buried Shrine Gate
- Takachiho Gorge
- Hell Beppu
- Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway
- Takasakiyama Nature Zoo
I have not done this route. But itis relavtively easy to drive in Japan as long as you stay away from the cities.
I usually use Time car rental or Nippon rent a car. They are pretty excellant. JR, Toyota and Nissan do car rentals too. If you are picking up from major tourist area, likelihood they will have an english speaking staff or even Chinese speaking. If small towns, then good luck, but there isn't really much to talk about anyway. Remember to ask fuel type. Usually it is 'reh-giu-ra'.
I see more and more English GPS, especially from popular tourist spots. They are easy to use and relatively accurate. Search by phone number and map code is straight forward. You might get a problem in town areas because everything is so close by. Other than that, it usually brings me right to the place or within 100m or so. Always rely on Mark 1 eyeball when you are that close. The GPS will give you 5 choices of route i.e Recommended, shortest, most expensive, least expensive etc.
Never used Garmin but I will back up car GPS with google map on iphone or better still, iPad. Wifi connection would be useful. Worked for me so far. If really, really kiasu, tourist maps can always be picked up at tourist info, hotel or train station. And you can buy really detailed ones for the area from convenience store.
Get updates on road information, closure and weather from their local websites daily. Especially if you are driving in the mountain area.
Spring and Autumm season might not have too much snow and ice but you might want to check the mountain areas again. Snow tyres are optional during this period and cost money.
Have a safe drive.
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