If you live outside of Japan and are planning to take a trip around Kyushu, you might consider the following passes to save some money on transportation costs and expand the scope of your travels.
JR Kyushu Rail Pass
This pass provides unlimited rides for 3 or 5 days on the Kyushu Shinkansen (“bullet train”), and all JR limited express trains and all conventional JR trains/lines in Kyushu. You can purchase a 3-day pass for 14,000 yen or a 5-day pass for 17,000 yen. There is also a “Northern Kyushu” version that costs 7,000 yen for 3 days and 9,000 yen for 5 days–this provides access to destinations in northern Kyushu, like Nagasaki, Mt. Aso and Kumamoto for a very low price.
Note that the rail pass cannot be used on the Sanyo Shinkansen (the portion connecting Hakata Station (Fukuoka) to Kokura and Honshu), and it cannot be used on subway lines, streetcars and privately operated (non-JR) rail lines. Only non-Japanese tourists (temporary visitors) Japan can purchase this pass. It can be purchased online, at select travel agencies outside of Japan and at major JR rail stations in Kyushu.
There is also a student version of the pass (JR Kyushu Ryugakusei Pass) for foreign students in Japan (student visa holders). It costs 7,000 for a 3-day northern Kyushu pass and 14,000 yen for a 3-day all-Kyushu pass. (Click here for the informational website in Japanese. The website is in Japanese only, but an explanatory pamphlet in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean is provided upon purchase.)
JR Sanyo-Shikoku-Kyushu Pass
This is similar to the above pass, but it covers a wider area–everything from Osaka (including JR lines in central Osaka), the entirety of the Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines, and lines throughout Shikoku and Kyushu. This 5-day pass costs 25,000 yen (12,500 yen for children). The same restrictions as above apply.
The pass can be purchased from major stations along the routes it covers, and it will be available for purchase through overseas travel agencies from June 2012 onward. More information can be found here.
This pass is for buses only, but as I mentioned in a previous post, highway buses are often the best way to get around Kyushu. The pass costs 14,000 yen for 4 days (all Kyushu), 10,000 yen for 3 days (all Kyushu), and 8,000 yen for 3 days in northern Kyushu only. This will get you to any part of Kyushu in a reasonable amount of time; buses are fairly comfortable, they have toilets, and they take rest stops on long journeys.
The SUNQ pass can be purchased at Kyushu bus terminals. More information can be found here.