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Kumamoto: Volcanoes, Castles, and Gourmet Cuisine

Kumamoto: Explore Kumamoto Castle, Mt. Aso's vast caldera, outdoor adventures, hot springs, and local cuisine like horse sashimi and spicy lotus root.

Where is Kumamoto?

Kumamoto Prefecture, located in central Kyushu, is renowned for its rich nature and historical sites. The prefectural capital, Kumamoto City, houses the magnificent Kumamoto Castle, a symbol of history and culture, and one of Japan's top three castles. Another iconic site is Mt. Aso, known for its vast caldera and active volcano.

The surrounding Aso Kuju National Park offers outdoor activities like mountain climbing, trekking, and horseback riding, alongside breathtaking natural scenery and numerous hot spring resorts.

Culinary delights include local specialties such as horse sashimi and spicy lotus root, with Kurokawa Onsen being a popular hot spring destination. Kumamoto blends nature, history, culture, and cuisine into a compelling tourist experience.

Central Kumamoto Area

About 2 hours from Tokyo by airplane or about 2 hours from Hakata (Fukuoka) station by trains.

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle is a historical castle located in Kumamoto City and was completed in 1607 by Kiyomasa Kato. Considered one of the three most famous castles in Japan, Kumamoto Castle is famous for its solid stone walls and complex defensive structures. The castle's Honmaru Palace and keep can still be seen in their former grandeur.

The castle was severely damaged by the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016, but restoration work is currently underway and tourists can now visit. The castle has historical exhibits and beautiful gardens that give visitors a sense of Japan's Warring States Period and Edo Period history.

Kumamoto Castle is also known as a cherry blossom viewing spot, attracting many tourists in spring. This place where history and nature are in harmony is a must stop when visiting Kumamoto.

Kumamoto Castle

Sakura no baba Josaien

Sakura no baba Josaien is a tourist facility located at the foot of Kumamoto Castle, where visitors can experience history and culture. Here, visitors can learn about Kumamoto's history and traditions through exhibits and informative facilities about Kumamoto Castle.

Sakura no baba Josaien also has a number of stores where visitors can purchase local specialties and souvenirs. There is also a wide variety of restaurants where visitors can taste Kumamoto's local specialties, such as horse sashimi and spicy lotus root. Through dining and shopping, this is a spot where visitors can fully enjoy the charms of Kumamoto.

Furthermore, Sakura no baba Josaien is a convenient base for tourists visiting Kumamoto Castle. There is also a tourist information center where visitors can obtain information on sightseeing in Kumamoto City and the surrounding area. It is a worthwhile place to stop by after visiting Kumamoto Castle, so that you can enjoy the history and culture of Kumamoto more deeply and incorporate it into your sightseeing route.

Sakura no baba Josaien

Suizenji Jojuen Garden

Suizenji Jojuen Garden is a historical Japanese garden in Kumamoto City. It was created by Tadatoshi Hosokawa in the early Edo period and has a long history as the garden of the Kumamoto clan. The garden is in the form of a pond garden, with a beautiful landscape centering on a vast pond.

The garden features a mountain shaped like Mt. Aso, carp swimming in the pond, and seasonal flowers, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy the changes of the seasons. The park also has a beautiful waterscape with abundant spring water, providing visitors with a moment of peace and tranquility.

Suizenji Jojuen Garden is dotted with historical buildings and teahouses, where visitors can experience traditional Japanese culture. There are also cafes and souvenir stores around the park, making it a place where visitors can fully enjoy Kumamoto's history and nature.

Suizenji Jojuen Garden

Yamaga Hot Spring

Yamaga Onsen is a historic hot spring resort located in Yamaga City, Kumamoto Prefecture, with its origins dating back more than 1,000 years. It is loved by many spa visitors for its fatigue-relieving and skin beautifying effects.

At the center of the hot spring resort is the historic building Yachiyo-za, a nationally designated important cultural property. Yachiyo-za is a playhouse built in 1910, and still attracts many tourists with its traditional performances and concerts. This building has become a symbol of the hot spring resort, giving visitors a sense of the depth of its history.

Yamaga Onsen is also famous for the Yamaga Lantern Festival held every summer. At night, people dance with lanterns on their heads, creating a fantastic sight that attracts many tourists. This festival is an event that further enhances the atmosphere of Yamaga Onsen and gives visitors a deep sense of the local culture.

Yamaga Hot Spring

Aso Area

About 1 hour 30 minutes from Kumamoto station by trains.

Mt. Aso

Mt. Aso is an active volcano, known for having one of the largest calderas in Japan. Its highest peak is 1,592 meters above sea level, and it is characterized by a magnificent landscape of several mountain ranges. Some areas of the crater of Mt. Aso are open to visitors, offering the rare experience of seeing the volcanic fumes up close.

The area surrounding Mt. Aso is designated as Aso Kuju National Park and offers a beautiful natural environment. There are many spots where visitors can enjoy seasonal scenery, such as the outer rim of the mountain where grasslands spread out and Kusasenrigahama beach on Mt Aso. The topography and hot springs formed by volcanic activity are also an attraction, attracting many tourists.

Mt. Aso is also a popular place for climbers and trekkers, and routes have been developed for both beginners and advanced climbers. The area is also rich in local specialties, hot springs, and tourism resources that take advantage of its abundant nature, providing visitors with a wide variety of experiences.

Mt Aso

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is an ancient shrine located near Mt. Aso and is known as a power spot with a mysterious atmosphere. More than 100 stone lanterns line the approach leading to the shrine, creating a fantastic scene in the sunlight filtering through the trees.

The shrine attracts many worshippers because it is believed to bring good luck and good fortune to those who are fortunate enough to visit. Also nearby is a large rock tunnel called "Ugeto-iwa," through which visitors are told that their wishes will come true if they pass through. This rock offers a spectacular view of the power of nature.

Because of its beautiful scenery and sacred atmosphere, Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine has attracted much attention as a setting for animation and movies. In particular, it is known as one of the models for the setting of Studio Ghibli's movie "Princess Mononoke," and is a tourist attraction that attracts many fans.

Kamishikimi Kumanoza Shrine

Aso Nature Land

Aso Nature Land is a nature experience facility located in Aso City, offering a wide variety of activities to enjoy the beautiful nature of Aso. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor sports such as horseback riding, canoeing, paragliding, and hot air ballooning. Guides are available to help beginners and experts alike enjoy these activities safely.

Especially popular are the horseback riding experience that takes visitors on a tour of the vast grasslands of Aso on horseback, and paragliding, where visitors can enjoy the spectacular view of Aso from the sky. Visitors can enjoy the seasonal scenery and feel at one with nature. Also, by enjoying a hot-air balloon ride in the sky, you can view the great nature of Aso from a different perspective.

Aso Nature Land is a fun spot for families, couples, and friends to visit together, offering an attractive and refreshing experience in nature. Combining a visit with sightseeing in the Aso area will make your trip even more fulfilling and memorable.

Aso Nature Land

Kurokawa Hot Spring

Kurokawa Onsen is a popular hot spring resort located in near Aso City, and is surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings. The hot spring resort is lined with traditional wooden ryokan (Japanese-style inns), creating an emotional atmosphere.

A unique feature of this hot spring resort is the "bathing coupon" system, which allows visitors to purchase a "bathing coupon" to enjoy multiple hot spring facilities. Each hot spring offers a different experience each time you visit, with a wide variety of features such as hot spring water from the source and open-air baths.

Kurokawa Onsen is said to be highly effective for beautifying and relaxing the skin, and visitors can spend a moment being at one with nature while enjoying the hot springs. The hot spring resort is a favorite spot for many tourists because it is fun to stroll around and enjoy the local specialties and delicious cuisine.

Kurokawa Hot Spring

Amakusa Islands Area

About 2 hours 30 minutes from Kumamoto station by trains and ferry.

Kuratake Shrine

Kuratake Shrine is an old shrine in Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture, located halfway up Mount Kuratake, 682 meters above sea level. The shrine is surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountain and visitors can enjoy climbing the mountain to get to the shrine.

The shrine has long been worshipped by local fishermen and merchants for its blessings of safe navigation, bountiful catches, and prosperous business. The shrine grounds also offer a beautiful view of Amakusa, especially on clear days, when the Ariake Sea and islands can be seen from the shrine.

Kuratake Shrine is famous for its annual autumn festival, which attracts many visitors. At this festival, visitors can experience traditional rituals and local culture, and enjoy interacting with local people.

Kuratake Shrine

Sakitsu Village & Church

Sakitsu Village and Church is a historic port town in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, and is registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Sakitsu Church is where the hidden Christians of the Edo period kept their faith, and the present church was built in 1934. The beautiful Gothic-style church blends in with the scenery of the fishing village, creating a unique landscape.

The entire village has a historical atmosphere, with narrow alleys and cobblestone streets. The coexistence of the fishermen's lives and the Christian faith is deeply moving to visitors. The village is also dotted with historical sites, such as the "Maria Kannon" used by hidden Christians, making it an enjoyable place for historical exploration.

The Sakitsu village and church are quiet and heartwarming places for tourists, and the warm hospitality of the local people is also an attraction. This is a spot where visitors can spend a heart-warming time with beautiful scenery and a deep sense of history.

Sakitsu Church & Village

Amakusa City Dolphin Center Roadside Station

Amakusa Dolphin Center is a base facility for dolphin watching in Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture. Here, visitors can observe wild dolphins up close in the beautiful waters of Amakusa, making it a popular spot for tourists. Dolphin-watching tours depart from the center by a special boat, and there is a high probability of seeing dolphins.

Inside the center, there are exhibits and materials to learn about dolphins and ocean ecology, and to convey to visitors the importance of the marine environment. In addition, the staff provides attentive guided tours, making the dolphin-watching experience enjoyable and educational for both children and adults.

Amakusa Dolphin Center is a fun place for families, couples, and friends to enjoy the rich nature of Amakusa and its activities. By combining your visit with sightseeing in Amakusa, you can create more fulfilling memories of your trip.

Amakusa City Dolphin Center Roadside Station

Amakusa Pearl Garden & Sea Donut Aquarium

Amakusa Pearl Garden is a tourist facility located in Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture, where you can see beautiful pearl cultivation and products. Here, visitors can not only observe the pearl cultivation process, but also purchase pearl accessories and experience making their own. The high quality pearls nurtured by nature in Amakusa are popular among many tourists.

The Sea Donut Aquarium is a unique aquarium adjacent to the Amakusa Pearl Garden. Visitors can observe a wide variety of fish and marine life in the local sea in an underground aquarium. The aquarium features exhibits that utilize natural light, allowing visitors to enjoy watching fish swim in an environment that is close to their natural habitat.

These two facilities are sightseeing spots that can be enjoyed by families, couples, and friends, allowing visitors to experience the charm of Amakusa's beautiful sea and pearls.

Amakusa Pearl Garden & Sea Donut Aquarium