Part of the Oita region of Kumamoto on Kyushu, Kokonoe and its surroundings are part of sprawling Aso-Kuju National Park. At over 1,790 meters above sea level, the mountains here are part of what's known as "the roof of Kyushu." Combine hikes through forests, highlands, and wetlands with visits to local hot springs. This area also boasts the highest suspension bridge in Japan, the Kokonoe Yume Grand Suspension Bridge.
JR Kokonoe Station is accessible with a JR East Rail Pass.
Kokonoe is less than two hours by limousine bus from Oita Airport. Flights from Haneda Airport in Tokyo airport take less than two hours and from Itami Airport in Osaka, approximately one hour.
It is a short drive from Hita Station, which is served by the Kyudai Main train lines, offering access to much of Kyushu.
A trip across the Kokonoe Yume Grand Suspension Bridge offers panoramic views of the Kuju Mountain Range as well as the stunning Shindo no taki and Medaki waterfalls below. You may even see denizens of Narukogawa Keikoku forest, including birds of prey. The bridge is most popular in the fall when the changes of the leaves in the forest turn the area into a beautiful sea of red, orange and yellow foliage.
Recognized by the Ramsar Convention as extremely rare, Tadewara Marshland and Bougatsuru Wetland are prime sightseeing spots on a trip around Kokonoe.
Set out on the cedar boardwalks across the area, designed to protect the delicate ecosystem, for the chance to see rare plants, flowers and insects, or learn about the area from the comfort of the highly informative and interactive Chojabaru Visitor Center.
Thanks to an abundance of pure water, the area is home to a distillery and brewery, both of which offer tours of their production facilities as well as tasting and a shop. Find out how staff at Iichiko Hita Distillery brew barley malt to use in raw sake alcohol, and how Sapporo Beer operates in its Kyushu Brewery.
Discover the history of Sapporo Beer, the oldest brand of beer in Japan, at this delightful museum. Exhibits showcase its production process and the history of Sapporo Breweries Ltd., which was founded in 1876. The factory is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but reservations are required for the factory tour.
Established in the 18th century by potters visiting the area from Fukuoka Prefecture, this pottery village blossomed in the early 20th century in the Mingei movement that embraced the beauty of everyday objects. Throughout the village are great examples of the intricate style of Onta yaki pottery, which is characterized by geometric shapes.
You can make your own items, drawing inspiration from the potters working alongside you in the village, and examine the history of local pottery through the various works on display.