Bucket List: Amazing Places to Visit in Kumamoto, Japan
Is Kumamoto worth visiting? Kumamoto, the wider Kumamoto Prefecture capital, is known for a lot of things, including interesting museums, galleries, and shopping arcades. It is a perfect reminder of why Japan remains among the favorite destinations in the world.
It is also the third-largest city on Kyushu Island and is home to one of the world’s largest volcanoes, Mt. Aso, and the three major castles in Japan. There are many activities to enjoy in the city, from nature tripping, gallery hopping, golfing, and horse riding, to name a few.
During Spring, Kumamoto is very well alive as the sakura trees blossoms with the Kumamoto Castle in the background. However, hiking is one of the most enjoyed activities during autumn, while the Kurokawa onsen is very much in demand, especially in winter. Needless to say, Kumamoto is an interesting city to explore whatever the season is.
If you want to know more activities to enjoy in Kumamoto, we’ve compiled 15 exciting things to do for your future reference. Enjoy!
There’s nothing more amazing and dreamy than seeing the city surrounded by city lights (in a bird’s eye view.)
Hanaokayama might just be the perfect place if you want to have a great city view, especially at night. It is a hill that takes about 15 minutes to trek but is easier and faster if you take the car.
You can also check out the small temple with a shrine gate known as torii in Japanese.
As mentioned earlier, the Kumamoto Castle located at Chuo-ku shines best, especially in spring during the cherry blossoms – as its 800 cherry trees serve as the perfect backdrop to the concrete castle, which awes nearly two million visitors yearly.
It is said that the castle features a unique underground passage that leads to the palace building and a former residence of the Hosokawa clan about 500 meters northwest of the main castle grounds.
Multiple events from conferences, cultural events, concerts, and exhibits have been held here at Kumamoto-jo. This four-story facility features an Exhibition Hall, the Civic Hall, and 19 small to large conference rooms perfect for all sorts of events. It’s definitely a venue for all venues.
To visit, take the JR Kumamoto Station and alight at the Kumamotojo-mae tram stop. You can also walk from Kumamoto Station to the castle in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Suizen-ji Joju-en Garden
If you want to see a postcard-worthy Japanese-landscaped garden, visit the Suizen-ji Joju-en Garden located within Kumamoto Prefecture.
It’s just a 15-minute ride from the city center and is hailed to be a popular tourist attraction for both locals and international tourists. According to history, it took about 80 years for the 4th and 5th Lords of Kumamoto to complete the 6600 square-meter gardens.
Within the grounds are the Noh theatre, which holds performances in the spring and autumn, tea rooms, and several souvenir stalls that contain historical pictures of the garden.
Visit Soseki Memorial Hall
Travel back in time and get to know one of the great writers of modern Japanese literature – Natsume Soseki.
His previous residence is now a memorial museum that houses authentic and replica manuscripts and photos of his students from Kumamoto University. The writer is also known to have written many of his haiku in Kumamoto.
To go here, ride from JR Kumamoto Station, proceed to the tram stop, and locate Tram System A. Take the tram bound for Kengunmachi and get off at Kumamotojo Shiyakushomae. From there, it takes about a 13-minute walk to reach the memorial hall.
Suizenji Ezuko park
Did you know that Kumamoto is named “Japan’s No.1 groundwater city”? If you want to wander and see most of its wonders, visit Lake Ezu, which is made up of two smaller lakes, Kami-Ezu and Shimo-Ezu, a popular natural park with underground water.
Some of the activities to do here include biking, boating, and nature walks. It’s also a great idea to bring some packed lunch and do a picnic.
Sakuranobaba Josaien is an essential stop in the Sakuranobaba district of Kumamoto Castle that opened on March 5, 2011.
This area is Kumamoto is filled with historical displays and shopping arcades. There are also restaurants as well as shops selling specialty items. For first-time visitors, this place is a great start in getting to know the city more!
If you’re traveling from JR Kumamoto Station, ride the ”Shiromegurin” bus bound to Kumamoto Bus Terminal, then to Kumamoto Castle, and alight at ”Sakura-no-baba.”
Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre
For generations, the locals have used the traditional way for metalwork, ceramics, woodwork, bamboo crafts, dying and weaving, paper products, and traditional toys.
To see the creative output, you can check out Kumamoto’s handicrafts at the Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre.
Just take note that they’re closed every Monday and on national holidays, so check out their official website before visiting.
Visit the Shimada Museum of Art
Immerse in Kumamoto’s rich history and visit the Shimada Museum of Art located in the midst of a bamboo forest.
It features Kumamoto’s arts and crafts from the Momoyama-Edo period to historical relics and old artworks related to Kumamoto’s long history of warrior culture.
The museum also displays weapons, relics, and documents related to Miyamoto Musashi. It also has a café you can visit afterward.
Kumamoto Contemporary Art Museum
If you’re traveling with the little ones, make sure to drop by the Contemporary Art Museum, located in the heart of downtown Kumamoto.
The main gallery features permanent displays from world-renowned artists and a rotation of exhibitions from locals and popular artists. Inside are the lobby gallery, media gallery, and a kid’s factory workshop room perfect for kids.
It has a very welcoming atmosphere and gives artists a platform to showcase their extraordinary art.
Hike to Mount Kinpo
First-time hikers must visit Mount Kipo nestled in Kawachi-machi. The mountain’s name came from “kimponzanto” – a Japanese god’s title in the Heian era.
The mountain can be seen from almost anywhere within the city limits. Trekking takes about 30 minutes to the starting point of a mountain climb entrance. A
top Mt. Kinpo is Kinpo Shrine, and viewing spots where you can see the breathtaking views of downtown Kumamoto, the Ariake Sea, and Mt. Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture to the west.
Visit Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine
Visiting one of the most famous shrines in Kumamoto, in Chuo-ku specifically, is a must! It was built with the purpose of divine protection for Kumamoto City and features a huge torii gate that stands at its entrance along Route 3. With a large two-storied gate and well-landscaped grounds, it is a unique destination in Kumamoto.
Every fall, there’s also the main festival of Fujisaki Hachiman-gu called ”Zuihyo Festival” or ”Uma-oi held inside where revelers are donned in traditional warrior gear festival costumes parade decorated horses through the streets of Kumamoto. At the same time, they play various instruments from gongs, trumpets, and drums.
Visit Hosokawa Gyobutei
Another landmark to check out when in Kumamoto is the 300-year-old Hosokawa Gyobutei – a former residence of the powerful Hosokawa Clan that ruled over Kumamoto during the Edo Period.
This residence is also a great example of a high-class samurai mansion located in the north of Kumamoto Castle Park.
The tour inside takes about 15 minutes around its 24 rooms, including the study room, reception room, teahouse, kitchen, and servants’ quarters.
Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens
After all the cultural immersions, you should cap off your vacation through some nature tripping at Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens located right next to Lake Ezu.
Such animals to see here are bears, lions, tigers, and snow leopards, to name a few. There are monkeys, birds, and polar bears in other sections, which makes this an exciting place to visit.
There are two options for getting here, first is taking the Ken 6′ bus route and getting off in front of ‘Doshokubutsuen’ / the zoo and botanical gardens. The other one would be taking the Tram System Abound for Kengunmachi and alight at Doshokubutsuen Iriguchi.
HOW TO GET TO KUMAMOTO
From Manila, book a flight bound to Tokyo or Osaka via www.airasia.com. Good thing, AirAsia has made traveling more convenient with their 33 flights every week to Osaka.
When you arrive in Osaka, book another flight at Oita Airport which will take about a one-hour travel time. From Kumamoto, you can either take the bus or train to get around your desired destination.
Overall, Kumamoto is an attractive city to visit. It’s filled with natural and historical wonders and delicious cuisine you can’t experience in other countries. Being here doesn’t only give you a sense of its rich past and diverse culture, but also a sense of belongingness because of the hospitable and genuine locals.
You’ll never find it hard commuting to this city because anyone can lead you in the direction you’re headed. Most of all, visiting Kumamoto will surely give you peace of mind and tranquility, and of course, an amazing experience you can share with your friends and family.
Kumamoto Travel and Tour Packages