Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Kumamoto Guide: Access, 27 Sightseeing Spots, Festivals and More!
Kumamoto is a prefecture located in the Kyushu region with many delicious foods, hot springs and natural scenery that would make a vacation here very enjoyable. Let this guide help you get around and experience the best of Kumamoto.
Written by Mayu
Transportation in Kumamoto
Within Kumamoto prefecture, there are the JR Kyushu lines, city bus, and city trains running throughout the area. If you plan on touring around Kumamoto city, using the city bus or train is useful.
In Kumamoto, there is the Kagoshima main line that connects the north and south of Kumamoto, the Houhi main line that connects Kumamoto city and Aso area, and the Hisatsu line connecting Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi in the southern area of the prefecture.
The bus is an important method of transportation for the citizens of Kumamoto. It runs all over the city and is very convenient.
Starting from the main Kumamoto Station, the city train connects Kamikumamoto Station, Tasakibashi, and Kengun. It stops at major tourist spots such as Kumamoto castle, Kamitoori, Shimotoori, and Suizenji park that is great when touring around the city. You can ride the city train for 170 yen for adults and 90 yen for children.
Ocean Arrow is a ferry connecting Kumamoto and Shimabara city in Nagasaki prefecture in 30 minutes. It costs 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children in elementary school and below for one way. One car can also board starting from 3100 yen. It is a handy method of transportation when touring around the Kyushu area.
Taxi / Car Rental
In front of the Kumamoto and Kamikumamoto Stations, there are spots to catch a taxi. Within central Kumamoto city, there are many car rental shops as well. While public transportation is enough to get around major tourist spots in Kumamoto, using a taxi or car rental is also handy if you would like to take your time touring around the area.
Area Guide to Kumamoto
Here, we would like to introduce the unique points, specialties, and the various sightseeing spots of Kumamoto.
Kumamoto City Area
Kumamoto's major business district is centered around Toorichosuji and Suidocho areas. It is known to have many offices and government buildings along with department stores and popular shopping districts called Kamicho and Shimocho. Famous tourist spots such as Kumamoto Castle and Suizenji Park are also located near this area.
Northern Area: Koushi, Oguni, and Aso
The northern area of Kumamoto is known for the vast nature surrounding the grand Mt. Aso. There are plenty of tourist spots such as Daikanbou mountain in Aso city or the beautiful fields of Kusasenrigahama. Out in Oguni town, there are the famed Tsuetate hot springs. Another site that is great to see is the historical Tsujun Bridge aqueduct that was built back in the Edo period.
North West Area: Yamaga, Kikuchi, Tamana, Arao, and Ueki
Photo courtesy of Kumamoto Prefecture
The northwestern area is known for their hot springs such as Tamana hot springs, Ueki hot springs, Yamaga hot springs, and Hirayama hot springs. At the Yachiyoza theater, nominated as an important cultural property of Japan, you will be able to experience the historical and elaborate feel of the Meiji period.
Yamaga city has nearly three hundred ancient Japanese burial mounds, such as the Chibusan burial mound which dates back to 1,500 years ago. Within the city, you will be able to look at rare artifacts found within the mounds at the Kumamoto Prefectural Ancient Burial Mound Museum. You will also be able to experience making a "Magatama" charm that was worn by the ancient Japanese.
In Arao city, you can visit Kumamoto's only amusement park, Greenland. The northwestern area of Kumamoto is a great place to bring families for an enjoyable time.
Southern Area: Uto, Yatsushiro, Shiranuhi, Minamata, Hitoyoshi, Ashikita
In the southern area, Yatsushiro is known as the castle town filled with great natural scenery around Kumagawa River. The town has many historical structures still standing and is a great place to see a classic Japanese scenery. If you wish to explore Hitoyoshi city, the panoramic view of Kumagawa River from the steam locomotive Hitoyoshi is a sight that is not to be missed.
If you love history, the Sashiki Castle remains in Ashikita, and Yatsushiro castle remains in Yatsushiro are also wonderful spots to see.
Located in the southwestern area of the prefecture, Amakusa is a town surrounded by the sea. It is known as the hometown of Shirou Amakusa, who was known to have gone against the government by forming a revolution when the government once forbade Christianity. Within Amakusa, there are still Christian cemeteries and many historical Christian documents on display at the Amakusa Christian Museum.
Amakusa has local dishes that are well known as well. The Amakusa Daio chicken is a delicacy that can be eaten in many ways such as yakitori chicken skewers, chicken stew or even chicken sashimi. The fresh seafood is also a well known local specialty too.