Translated by Hilary Keyes
How To Reach Kumamoto From Tokyo And Other Regions In Japan
Kumamoto has many great sightseeing spots such as Mt. Aso and Kurokawa Onsen, as well as Kumamoto Castle. We introduce the best ways to reach Kumamoto from Tokyo and other large cities in Japan.
Written by MATCHA
What Kind of Place Is Kumamoto?
Known for its cute bear mascot, Kumamon, as the location of one of Japan's three most famous castles, Kumamoto Castle and for places like Mt. Aso, Kurokawa Onsen, and Tsuetate Onsen, Kumamoto is a prefecture with many sightseeing attractions. In this article, we will be discussing how to reach Kumamoto from Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, as well as explaining the public transportation system within the prefecture itself.
** As a result of the recent earthquake, there are some tourist attractions with irregular hours or restricted access, such as Kumamoto Castle. Some roads in the Aso area are also closed at present, so it is a good idea to thoroughly check your travel routes before heading out.
Traveling to Kumamoto from Tokyo
To go from Tokyo to Kumamoto by plane, you can use either Haneda Airport or Narita Airport. Flying from Haneda to Kumamoto Airport takes about an hour and 40 minutes, and costs from 10,000 to 40,000 yen one way. If you use the low cost carrier (LCC) Solaseed Air, low price tickets are available. From Narita to Kumamoto Airport, it will take about two hours and cost from 6000-15,000 yen one way. Flights by the LCC Jetstar also operate this route.
It is also possible to take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kumamoto. In that case, take the Tokaido, Sanyo, or Kyushu shinkansen from Tokyo Station to either Shin-Osaka or Hakata Station, and catch the connecting train to Kumamoto Station - it is possible to make the journey with only one transfer. The journey will take about six hours and cost 27,000 yen one way.
If you are taking the Kyushu Nozomi train or the Mizuho train however and have a JR bus and regular train unlimited Japan Rail Pass, please note that these trains are not included in the price. When transferring, please use the Hikari, Sakura, Kodama, or Tsubame trains.
Heading from Kansai (Osaka or Kyoto) to Kumamoto
If you are traveling by plane from either Osaka or Kyoto to Kumamoto, there are several airmail flights that depart from Itami Airport to Kumamoto Airport. These flights take about an hour and ten minutes and cost from 10,000-30,000 yen one way.
When heading to Kumamoto from Osaka or Kyoto via shinkansen, take the Sanyo or Kyushu trains from Shin-Osaka Station. Depending on which shinkansen you chose from Shin-Osaka, you may be able to travel directly to Kumamoto Station without having to transfer once. This route will take three hours and 20 minutes, and cost 18,500 yen.
It is also possible to take the highway bus from Osaka or Kyoto to Kumamoto. It will take about 10-12 hours, and, although it depends on the quality of bus you select, it will cost from 5000-11,000 yen one way. If you use the night bus, you can arrive at Kumamoto Station by around 9 o'clock in the morning.
You can take the highway bus from Kyoto Station, Osaka's Tennoji Station, Osaka Station, and others.
Visiting Kumamoto from Kyushu (Fukuoka, Beppu, Nagasaki, Kagoshima)
With the Kyushu shinkansen you can move smoothly from the Kyushu area to Kumamoto. To access from Fukuoka, take the shinkansen from Hakata Station to Kumamoto Station; it will take about 50 minutes and cost 5000 yen one way.
If you are going to visit Kumamoto from Beppu in Oita prefecture, you should take the JR Kagoshima line's Limited Express Sonic train from Beppu Station, and switch to the Kyushu shinkansen at Kokuraekimae Station. It will take about two hours and cost 11,000 yen one way.
From Nagasaki to Kumamoto, take the JR Nagasaki train from Nagasaki Station and transfer to the Kyushu shinkansen at Shin-Tosu Station. This trip will take about two hours and ten minutes, and cost 7500 yen one way.
Finally, if you are heading from Kagoshima, take the shinkansen from Kagoshima-Chuo Station; it will take one hour and cost 7000 yen one way. If you use the regular train lines instead, the total cost will be cheaper, but the amount of time the journey takes overall will, of course, go up.
From Fukuoka, Beppu, Nagasaki, Kagoshima and other locations in the Kyushu region, it is possible to take the highway bus to Kumamoto; it will cost from 3000-5000 yen one way, and take anywhere from two to three hours.
If you are traveling from Nagasaki to Kumamoto, we recommend taking the ferry from Nagasaki's Shibaragaiko Port. This route is the speediest, taking only 30 minutes, and a one-way trip costs 1000 yen.
Transportation in Kumamoto
Within Kumamoto, in addition to the JR Kyushu trains, you will also find many city buses and tramways to choose from. The majority of sightseeing spots can be easily reached via either the bus or tram.
Reaching Kumamoto City Center from Kumamoto Airport
When heading from the airport to the city center, you can take the airport shuttle bus. It will arrive at the Kumamoto Bus Terminal from the airport in about 50 minutes and costs 730 yen one way, while it takes about an hour and costs 800 yen to reach Kumamoto Station.
Reaching Kumamoto City Center from Kumamoto Station
When traveling from Kumamoto Station to the heart of the city, it is best to use the tram. Take the Kengunmachi bound tram from the Kumamoto-ekimae tram stop to either the Torichosuji or Karashimacho stop. A one-way ticket costs 170 yen.
Getting to Kumamoto Castle from Kumamoto Station/Airport
From Kumamoto Station you can access Kumamoto Castle either by tram or by bus. If you are taking the tram, get on at the Kumamoto-ekimae tram stop and alight at Kumamoto-jo Shiyakushomae stop. It will only take 10 minutes and cost 170 yen. On the other hand, if you take the bus, hop on the bus at the stop by the station, and get off at the Kotsu Centermae stop. It will take 10 minutes and cost 150 yen. If you can master the routes and transportation systems in Kumamoto, you will find that it's even easier to get around and sightsee in this fun city.
** The travel times and prices given in this article are based on the information provided by their respective agencies, and are accurate as of December 2016. Please be aware that they are subject to change.