1. Roppo Road(Miyazaki prefecture): This road was worth the hour and a half it took me to get there. It had everything. The drive started with a steep and windy climb, nothing especially spectacular as it climbed to the ridge of the mountains. Then as it started to traverse, the left side fell away in a steep drop. The white guardrails were badly mangled in places, and in other areas completely lacking. I would not be surprised to look over the edges and see twisted wreckage hundreds of meters down. The drive had plenty of gentle and not so gentle ridges, sharp turns, spectacular views, picnic areas, maps, wildlife, and obstacles. There were landslides and boulders on the road, which were fun to slalom around and reminded me of the Initial D episode in which Takumi successfully beats the "panda" Trueno on the guy's home course. Also, there was very very little traffic on this stretch by shooting the narrowed course right alongside. I must've only seen three trucks and three cars, and I never got stuck behind any slow drivers. I only got to drive this awesome road for an hour because I only had half a day off, and so I need to come back to fully experience it. Also, I found out where I can go snowboaring in Miyazaki, but most likely won't.
2. The Milk Road (North Aso Prefecture). This road is my favorite, but sits in the no. 2 spot because it gets too much traffic during the summer and fall. Tempermental, dangerous, and oftentimes solitary, this road never fails to surprise me. I know the turns very well, and so I can push my car to the limit, slingshotting out of the tight curves and getting from here to there in a breeze, if the traffic is light. It can be very dangerous because people like to park behind blind corners and stick out far into the narrow road, sheets of rain coming down so fast that windshield wipers have little effects and the resulting deep rivers flowing across the road causing you to hydroplane, the road freezes and is periodically covered with snow and ice, racers like to practice up there, some truck drivers like to drive the maximum limit and beyond, clouds drag across the ridge resulting in a thick fast moving fog that can cut visibility to 5 feet and can be very disorienting after several minutes, and the wealth of animals that like to dart out in front of your car including tanuki, rabbit, weasel, fox, and even dogs and cats.
3. The continuation of the Milk Road into Kikuchi Gorge (Kikuchi-Gun). Mountainous, running parallel, high above the river, and filled with dense folliage. Kikuchi Gorge is one of the most beautiful areas throughout Kyushu, and so the nature park draws bigtime traffic during holidays and weekends. Still a nice drive, especially in Fall when the leaves show their most vibrant colors.
4. The Kagoshima Expressway. Fast, straight, few cops and cameras: narcotic. After being deprived of speed, driving on the Kago Xpress can be dangerous.
5. The Ibusuki Skyline. Like the Aso Skyline (Milk Road), the Ibusuki Skyline offers a badass view of some stunning scenery and has some great twists and turns. Unlike Aso, it is well paved, used by many during the whole year, and costs money to drive. Still, it is worth the trip and the 800 or so yen. Seeing Kaimondake silouhetted against a red sky melts away any pent-up stress.
6. Nameless Road leading to Ubuyama's "Dream Bridge" (North Aso). This road is
d. uphill, downhill, and level in places
f. has "Danger: Cows" signs posted
It is a short drive, but is really really fun.
These are the Top 5 for now, but I will continue to post as I remember old favorites or discover new ones.