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Difficulty: 3/5


Hiking Distance: 24km 


Time: 2-3 days


Elevation change: ➚1800m   ➘1500m


Prefecture: Oita

kuju mountains-4.jpg


The Kuju Mountains

Elevation: 1791m




24 km

Elevation Change

➚ 1800m    ➘ 1500


3 days




Huts & Campsites


The Kuju mountains are located between Kumamoto and Beppu, and are part of the Aso-Kuju National Park. The Kuju mountains are perfect for a few days of camping due to an amazing free campground called Bogatsuru. The are a number of peaks with hiking trails, the most notable mentions are Nakadake, which is the highest peak in the range, and Mt. Taisen, which is popular for its photogenic lake and rock formations. The campground is accessed via an easy 2-3 hour hike from the bus stop, there are many day hikes available from the campground, so it serves as the perfect base for exploring the mountains. It's especially popular for the autumn colours that peak at the end of October, and it's sometimes referred to as the best place for autumn hiking in Kyushu.


here are two trailheads that will lead you into the Kuju mountains, one located at Makinoto Pass and the other at Chojabaru Visitor Center. The Makinoto Pass trailhead is perfect for day hikes, while the Chojabaru Visitor Center is perfect for access to the Bogatsuru campground, we'll provide info for both of these options.


Car: If you're driving, there's plenty of parking around the Chojabaru Visitor Center for access to the Bogatsuru campground. If you prefer a day hike to the highest peak, Nakadake, you can park at the Makinoto Pass trailhead.

Train & Bus - If going by public transport then you'll need to reach Kumamoto station or Beppu station, from there you can catch a bus bound for Chojabaru Visitor Center. From Beppu it takes about 2 hours and will cost ¥2500. From Kumamoto it takes nearly 4 hours and will cost ¥3500. Google Maps provides info for the departure times.

Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo: 

Flights to Kumamoto and Beppu are relatively cheap, ranging from $70 to $150 USD one-way, check Skyscanner for the best options.


The overnight ferry is the best option, available from Osaka to Beppu, or Tokyo to Fukuoka. Prices start from ¥8000 and increase if you want a nicer room or you're bringing your vehicle. The ferry is very nice and is an experience in itself. Click here for Osaka, or here for Tokyo.

There is an overnight bus from Kyoto and Osaka to Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Beppu, it takes 10 to 12 hours and the price varies from ¥4000 to ¥10,000, with Fukuoka being the cheapest option. Click here for the bus to Fukuoka, here for the bus to Kumamoto, or here for the bus to Beppu.


Trail Description

Nakadake day hike - from Makinoto Pass

GPS Hiking Map:

Time: 5-6 hrs

Distance: 12 km

Elevation change: ➚ 750m gain    750m loss

If you're just doing the day hike from Makinoto Pass, the trail to Nakadake is clearly marked and well maintained, so just follow your map and enjoy the scenery. You'll be able to see Mt. Aso from this trail which is really nice, and the terrain is interesting with some ladders and large boulders. On your way back I highly recommend heading along the Mt. Hossho ridgeline for some easy rock climbing, check out the GPS map for more information.

Day 1 - Visitor centre to the campground

GPS Hiking Map:

Time: 2-3 hrs

Distance: 5 km

Elevation change: ➚ 135m gain    330m loss

Your first day is pretty easy, just a 2-3 hour walk from the visitor centre to the campground. You will have time to check out the onsen which is only a 10 min walk away, or simply get some rest and prepare for a sunrise hike the next day. If you're short on time and arrive early, you could include the second day's itinerary on your first day.


Early morning before the sunrise

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Day 2


Day 2 - Bogatsuru to Mt. Taisen

GPS Hiking Map:

Time: 6 hrs

Distance: 7.5 km

Elevation change: ➚ 750m gain    750m loss

Waking up early for the sunrise will be worth it, you will have amazing panoramic views all around you. You will need about 1.5 hours to reach the peak of Mt. Taisen for the sunrise, if you hurry you can do it a little quicker. The sunrise is amazing and make sure to explore the little side trails around the lake. After Taisen you can continue on to Hiijidake for more expansive views.

Day 3 - Bogatsuru to Nakadake & Makinoto

GPS Hiking Map:

Time: 6-7 hrs

Distance: 11.5 km

Elevation change: ➚ 850m gain    750m loss

Your final day and another sunrise hike, this time it's somewhat essential if you want to catch the Makinoto bus in time for the Beppu ferry. Although Nakadake is the highest peak, the sunrise view is much better on the neighbouring Inaboshi peak. It will take about 2 hours to get to Inaboshi from the campground, so plan accordingly. From the peak you will have amazing views, including Mt. Aso. Once you start making your way to Makinoto Pass, make sure you head up along the ridgeline to Mt. Hossho as the rock climbing here is a lot of fun. Check the GPS map for the route information. 

Elevation Profile

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Day HikeMakinoto Pass to Nakadake

Multi-day Hike: Visitor Center - Bogatsuru - Makinoto Pass

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Weather  and  Seasons

May to October are the best times for hiking in Aso-Kuju National Park, summer will give you lush green scenery and the peak autumn colours occur in the second half of October. There is a lot of rain during summer, with June and July receiving the most rain, it's nice and warm with an average high of 29°C. Keep an eye on the forecast for possible typhoons, which peak in August and September. Winter hiking is also possible with adequate gear and preparation, with snowfall occurring from December to March.

Useful links



Altitude & Weather


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kuju mountains hike.jpg

Difficulty: 3/5

Hiking Distance: 24 km 

Time: 3 days

Elevation gain: 1800m

Prefecture: Oita

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