Presentation of the destination
Blessed with beautiful and bounteous nature, Kumamoto City is located in the heart of Kyushu Island on the western end of Japan and is known as the “City of Forests.” A trip to the beautiful and refreshing city may just be the best medicine for travelers who need to stop and smell the rose blossoms. The delicious foods, crystal clear water, plentiful nature, and clean air leaves all of Kumamoto’s visitors feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Visitors will also enjoy Kumamoto’s subtropical climate that allows for the growth of numerous traditional Japanese gardens and cherry blossoms who’s pleasant aroma fill the city during the spring. Early in 2012 Kumamoto city earned status as a government ordinance designated city and now enjoys abundant financial resources and full decentralization from the national government. This change of status lead to the city’s organization into five wards, each with a “ku” designation signifying its address as part of Kumamoto City (Chuo-ku, Higashi-ku, Nishi-ku, Minami-ku, and Kita-ku). A comprehensive travel guide including maps and tour information for Kumamoto City can be found here: https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-704.pdf
Points of interests / things to see
For one of the most inclusive castle experiences in all of Japan, visitors are encouraged to explore Kumamoto Castle. The castle was originally constructed in 1607 under order from Kato Kiyomasa, an experienced and highly regarded warrior known for his knowledge of war strategy and fortification. Because of this, the castle played a central role in the Seinan Civil War in the mid to late 1800’s acting as the main garrison for government troops in the Kyushu area. There the government forces withstood the opposing siege forcing the rebels to retreat. It is one of very few remaining structures that have survived the centuries intact.Today the castle keep is a reconstruction completed in 1960 after the original keep burnt down in 1877. During the reconstruction, the castle’s outward appearance was maintained while the inside now features a modern museum that showcases the castle’s history.From either of the castle’s two towers, visitor can enjoy a wonderful view of the castle ground’s beautiful natural surroundings including the popular cherry trees as well as the surrounding city.Kumamoto Castle is located at Honmaru, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto. There is a 500 yen admission fee and the castle is open year round with the exception of December 29-31st.
Within the grounds of Kumamoto Castle, Hnmaru Goten Palace in a single story structure located just outside the castle’s main keep. The palace originally served as the primary residence of the daimyo lords and their families during the Edo Period in Japan. It too burned down along with the castle keep during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. The palace has been rebuilt over the last decade and includes original artifacts wherever possible. The palace was opened up to the public in 2008 in celebration of Kumamoto Castle’s 400th anniversary.When inside, visitors can enjoy highly accurate recreations of the reception rooms where the daimyo lords would welcome their guests. These opulent and beautiful painted walls and door are an essential part of any visitor’s tour of Kumamoto.The Honmaru Goten Palace and Kumamoto Palace are about a 20 minute drive from the Kumamoto inner city and entrance into the hall is available from April to October from 8:30am-6pm and from November to March from 8:30am-5pm. The hall is closed for the New Year.More information about the palace hall admission, parking, or contact information is available at http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kumamoto/
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art first opened in 1976 inside the grounds of Kumamoto Castle. The exhibits include work dating back to the prehistoric era all the way to the contemporary period. In October 1992, The Chibajo Branch Museum opened allowing personal and group exhibitions as well.The museum features a collection of art and crafts of Kumamoto Prefecture with extensive permanent art collections totaling over 3,330 including Tomoaki Hamada collections as well as collections from the Yano school and Kano school. The museum also features works by Rodin and Renoir as well as a room solely dedicated to replicas of decorated “kofun.”Museum visitors may also choose to take advantage of painting lessons, workshops, lectures, and concerts sponsored by NHK Kumamoto in the atrium hall.The building is comprised of a total of four floors and is made of natural stones that compliment Kumamoto Castle. The museum’s main building is located in Ninomaru park of Kumamoto castle.Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art is open from 9:30am to 4:30pm from Tuesday through Sunday and is closed from December 25 through January 4th each year. Admission will cost ¥260 Additional information about visiting the museum can be found here: http://www.museum.pref.kumamoto.jp/common/images/top1/guidance_j_uk.pdf
One of the first public cultural complexes in Japan, the Kumamoto Prefectural Theater is comprised of a music practice room, a drama theater and concert hall that seat 1,183 people, and a rehearsal room. The concert hall features two levels of balconies and a sloped floor. Other design features of the theater include 10 ten cubic meters per seat, sagging walls on both of the side wings, and side walls of the main floor that are tilted slightly inward. It features five speaker clusters mounted on the side walls and the ceiling near the stage to accommodate multiple purposes. The three speakers mounted on the ceiling are movable to accommodate different heights for musical performances without calling the audience’s attention to the sound system. Although the original purpose of the concert hall was simply to accommodate traditional classical music, it is also currently used for various other performances, meetings, and lectures. The Theater is located at 2-7-1 Oe, Kumamoto City 940-2101, Japan and theater staff can be reached by phone at 096-363-2233. For more information about the theater or a schedule of performances please visit: http://www.kumamoto-icb.or.jp/eng/html/5ConventionFacilities1.htm
Suizenji Park is one of Japan’s most beautify landscape gardens located in Kumamoto City. The garden is designed in a “go-round” style in order to allow visitors to enjoy changing scenery as they walk around the garden. The garden’s landscaping was designed to give the impression of the views while traveling along the old highway, Tokaido, that has been in use since the 12th century in Japan.The park features over 60,o00 square meters of gardens, lakes, and streams. Within one of the park’s most beautiful lakes, float three little islands who’s neatly trimmed pine trees and scenery provide visitors with an exquisite and relaxing view.Tourist information about Suizenji Park can be found at the Japan National Tourist Organization website here: http://www.jnto.go.jp/
Anyone visiting Kumamoto City should consider the short jaunt over to experience the natural wonder of Mt. Aso. Mt. Aso is one of Japan’s most amazing active volcanos with the largest caldera in the world and is truly a magnificent sight. The volcano draws a significant amount of tourists each year. The volcano is about a one and a half hour ride from Kumamoto City and once there, visitors can ride up to the mountains on a set of cable cars easily accessed from the bus station.More information about the size and history of Mt. Aso or any additional tourist information if available at: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/kumamoto/aso.html or in the Aso Tourist Information Center onsite in the building just beside the Aso Station.
Visitors seeking more hands-on traditional Japanese experiences native to Kumamoto should consider trying Higo Zogan. Higo Zogan, or inlaying, is the technique of engraving designs into a base of iron which are then inlaid with silver or gold. One of Kumamoto’s most traditional crafts, Higo Zogan is known for its quiet and dignified appearance utilizing motifs handed down across generations spanning over 400 years from ancient Japan. The process is very delicate and requires comprehensive design ability and precision. It involves designing and drawing a picture on the iron, making a series of fine cuts, inserting the silver or gold plate, carving the silver or gold piece, and applying an oxidizing solution. The craft originated in Edo-era when craftsmen used the technique to inlay sword guards and firearms. It has now made its way into more contemporary fields like interior design and accessories. Today it is mostly used to create accessories like tie clips, pendants, and jewelry.Visitors can witness the process for themselves at 3-2-1 Shinmachi, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto City Kumamoto from 9am to 5pm from Monday through Friday and from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays and on national holidays. Inlay strap making will cost 3,500 yen per visitor. Reservations are required one day in advance.For more information about Higo Zogan or to try the process, please visit: http://kumanago.jp/en/spots/detail/experience/430000005155.html
Whether visitors choose to enjoy the amazing view of its mountains and seascapes or take in the sight of its cluster of volcanos, Unzen National Park offers a rare natural experience that is not easily matched. The park is known for its abundance of natural beauty from the hot springs and volcanic activity to its seashores and historical sites.The Unzen National Park area has been being developed since Japan’s old times and serves as a popular historic destination, and an international summer resort.More information about the national park historic sites and tourist information is available at: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/nagasaki/unzen_shimabara.html
The former residence of a branch family of the Hosokawa Clan, the Old Hosokawa Gyobutei House, is one of Kumamoto’s best displays of a high class samurai mansion. The Hosokawa Clan was one of the Japan’s most powerful and influential clans who ruled over Kumamoto during the Edo period. Gyobutei was relocated in 1873 at the end of the feudal era and then again to Kumamoto Castle Park in 1990 when it was beautifully restored. Today it is open to the public where its visitors can view fist hand the traditional designs of a highly ranked samurai residence.The house is open to the public from 8:30am to 5:30 pm from April through October and from 8:30am to 4:30pm from November through march each year. The house is closed from December 29th through the 31st . Admission is 300 yen.For more information about the Old Hosokawa Gyobutei House, please visit: http://www.manyou-kumamoto.jp/contents.cfm?id=436 .
Vacation rentals in Kumamoto (Kumamoto Prefecture)
How to get there ?
There are plenty of options for travels wishing to get to and around Kumamoto City. Primarily, travelers can fly directly into Kumamoto through the Aso-Kumamoto Airport. From there a number of shuttle buses offer about an hour long ride into the city. The Aso-Kumamoto Airport connects to many of Japan’s major Airports including Tokyo Narita, Seoul, Chubu International, Matsuyama, Naja, Osaka, Kansia International, and Amakusa. For travelers flying into Fukuoka Airport, there is an express bus service that that will bring them directly into Kumamoto as well. That ride will take about 2 hours and costs roughly ¥2000.Kumamoto is also a common stop along most train routes. Through the Kyushu Shinkansen, travelers can access Kumamoto with trains leaving several times per hour from locations all over Japan including Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Hiroshima, Okayama, Osaka, and many more. Travel time and costs will vary by city but from Tokyo, travelers can usually get to Kumamoto within 6 or 7 hours.Those wishing to travel from Nagasaki may prefer to take advantage of the ferry services into Kumamoto. There a few rout options, some will take travelers directly to Kumamoto Port and others will require a bus connection that will take them directly into the city.Once in Kumamoto, successfully getting around is easily accomplished with the city’s relatively extensive bus system and simple tram system. City day passes are available for those who wish to take advantage of them and can be used on both the tram lines and the bus system. Those wishing to fully enjoy the natural beauty of the city while traveling can comfortably get around by bike as well.
Kumamoto city hall
Hotels in Kumamoto (Kumamoto Prefecture)