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Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto (熊本) is the capital of Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. It is notable for the impressive

Kumamoto Castle


The city is home to about 730,000 people.
Kumamoto means "origin of the bear", and its nickname is Hi No Kuni (fire country), because of the nearby giant volcano (Mt. Aso) and Mori no Miyako (capital of the forest).


Kumamoto has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot summers and cool winters. Precipitation is significant throughout the year, but is much heavier around the summer, especially in the months of June and July.


Katō Kiyomasa, a contemporary of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was made daimyō of half of the (old) administrative... Read more

Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto (熊本) is the capital of Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. It is notable for the impressive

Kumamoto Castle


The city is home to about 730,000 people.
Kumamoto means "origin of the bear", and its nickname is Hi No Kuni (fire country), because of the nearby giant volcano (Mt. Aso) and Mori no Miyako (capital of the forest).


Kumamoto has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot summers and cool winters. Precipitation is significant throughout the year, but is much heavier around the summer, especially in the months of June and July.


Katō Kiyomasa, a contemporary of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was made daimyō of half of the (old) administrative region of Higo in 1588. After that, Kiyomasa built Kumamoto Castle. Due to its many innovative defensive designs, Kumamoto Castle was considered impregnable, and Kiyomasa enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest castle-builders in Japanese history. After Kiyomasa died in 1611, his son, Tadahiro, succeeded him. Tadahiro was removed by Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1632, replacing him with the Hosokawa clan. The current administrative body of the City of Kumamoto was founded on April 1, 1889.

Near the end of World War II, Kumamoto experienced several air raids. The largest one was on the night of June 30 to July 1, 1945. About one-third of the city was burned, and more than 300 people died. After the effects of the air raids, the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii decided to construct a Peace Pagoda atop Mount Hanaoka in the city to commemorate all those lost in war and to promote peace. Inaugurated in 1954, this pagoda held significance: It inspired Fujii and his followers to build over 80 more around the world including India, Sri Lanka, the United States and the United Kingdom.

On February 1, 1991, the towns of Akita, Kawachi, Tenmei and Hokubu (all from Hōtaku District) were merged into Kumamoto. On October 6, 2008, the town of Tomiai (from Shimomashiki District) was merged into Kumamoto. On March 23, 2010, the town of Jōnan (also from Shimomashiki District) and the town of Ueki (from Kamoto District) were merged into Kumamoto.

A series of earthquakes struck the area beginning April 14, 2016, including a tremor with moment magnitude 7.1 early in the morning of April 16, 2016, local time.


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Kumamoto, Japan: Port Information

Your cruise liner will dock at Port Yatsushiro approximately 31 miles away from Kumamoto.
Take an organized tour. Besides, you can take a taxi or a bus to a train station and get to Kumamoto by train.

Get around Kumamoto, Japan

A fairly extensive bus system and a simple two line tram system keeps Kumamoto City and some of its neighboring well connected. City day passes are valid on both the buses and trams.

By tram

One tram line runs from Kumamoto Station and the other from Kami-Kumamoto Station. They meet near the downtown area and run east to Kengun Machi.

By bus

Buses run fairly regularly from stops through Kumamoto City. Kotsu Center, the main bus terminal, is located near the downtown area (just nestled in the few blocks between Kumamoto castle and the nightlife districts) and is easily reached by taking the tram to the Kotsu Center-mae stop.

By bike

Kumamoto is a comfortable city to ride around. For reference, it takes about 30 minutes to get to

Kumamoto Gakuen University

from Kamikumamoto.

What to see in Kumamoto, Japan

  • Kumamoto Castle (熊本城, kumamoto-jō). 8:30 am-6 pm Mar-Nov, 8:30 am-5 pm Dec-Feb. It is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, and the third largest. Though in actuality the real Kumamoto Castle was burned down during the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877, the current keep is a concrete reconstruction built during the sixties, though some of the other buildings are originals, nevertheless, it is a must see attraction which is effectively the heart of the city. During the cherry blossom season, the castle grounds are filled with hundreds of beautiful blossoms.
  • Lake Ezu (江津湖, ezuko).
  • Suizenji Gardens (水前寺公園, Suizen-ji Kōen). It is a renowned Japanese traditional garden, considered one of the four best in Japan. You can walk around a lovely course of trees and mini hills (one of them representing the Mount Fuji) covered in grass right in the middle of the city, and it feels like your in the countryside! Food stalls are also to be found in the immediate vicinity.
  • Shiki no Sato Park. Has its own natural hot springs and animal park.
  • Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center (熊本県伝統工芸館 kumamoto-ken dentō kōgeikan). Exhibits the various traditional crafts for which Kumamoto is well-known. (includes a gift shop)
  • Honmyo-ji Temple (本妙寺). It is one of the most famous temples in Kumamoto. Honmyoji was built in honor of Kato Kiyomasa, the builder of Kumamoto Castle. The temple is halfway up a hill at the same level as the castle. There is a long staircase lined with old candle stands to the temple. After the temple, there is another staircase that leads to a park at the top of the hill that has a statue of Kato Kiyomasa and a nice viewpoint where you can see the castle towering over the city. In the daytime, you can also see

    Mt. Aso

    in the background. In the last weekend in March they have the Nighttime Cherry Blossom Festival. Then they have live music and lit up cherry blossoms and candles all the way to the top of the hill.
  • Hosokawa Gyōbutei (旧細川刑部邸) (In the north-ouest of the castle site). Another picturesque place to visit. It's the family home of the Hosokawa Clan (whose descendant, Morihiro, became Prime Minister of Japan in the 1990s.)
  • Hanaokayama 花岡山. Hanaokayama is a hill near Kumamoto Station. It looks over downtown and has a great night view. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Aso towering behind the city. There is also a nice temple and a huge shrine gate (torii) on the top. You can go up by car, which most couples do, or hike about 15 minutes to the top.
  • Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine 藤崎宮. This is the most famous shrine in the city. It is north of Kamitori and not too far from downtown. This is the most crowded shrine in the city every New Year`s. It is also crowded for other festivals the most famous being the "Drunken Horse Festival" which is held every September.
  • Mt. Kinpō (金峰山, kinpō-zan) is about 11 km from downtown but when you get to the top you`ll be rewarded with a beautiful view over Kumamoto and Nagasaki. The view of the city lights is great and you can also see the peaks of Mt. Aso in Kumamoto and Mt. Unzen in Nagasaki. You can take a bus to the area but then you have to hike for about an hour to the top. On top, there is a temple and a famous fence full of locks that couples have locked to a fence on the observation deck. There is no ropeway so you gotta hike or take a car.
  • Kumamoto City Hall 熊本市役所, Tetorihoncho 手取り本町. Right in the heart of downtown is city hall. If you go to the fourteenth floor there is a free view of the castle and downtown area. free.
  • Reigando (霊巌洞) (Miyamoto Musashi's cave). Reigandō (霊巌洞, meaning "Spirit Rock Cave") is a cave that lies to the west of Kumamoto, Japan, that became a temporary home to legendary rōnin, Miyamoto Musashi. From 1643, Musashi spent many of his last months in the cave, meditating and writing his Book of Five Rings. The cave is accessed easily by bus from Kumamoto City and nearby Tamana.

What to do in Kumamoto, Japan

  • Fujisakidai Baseball Stadium (藤崎台県営野球場, fujisakidai ken'ei yakujō) (To the west to Kumamoto Castle). A good occasion to watch amateur baseball free.

What to eat and drink in Kumamoto, Japan



There are some unique traditional foods in Kumamoto.

  • Karashirenkon辛子蓮根, deep-fried lotus root stuffed with mustard, is the most popular food for visitors. It's rarely found elsewhere in Japan.
  • Ikinaridango is a famous sweet. This contains a slice of sweet potato and anko-bean paste. Visitors who come to Kumamoto buy it for a souvenir.
  • The Dipper Dan nestled right next to Daiei is a popular ice cream and dessert parlor located in Shimotori. Perhaps not as unique, but appears to be a local favorite.
  • Ringo no Ki is a cafe at Shimotori in downtown. You can eat apple pie and some bread. Especially, I want to recommend coffee and tea. The coffee beans are rare and the taste is really good. Moreover, you can drink the tea which tastes and smells apple.
  • Basashi 馬刺し is raw horse meat.
  • Taipi-en (太平燕), a noodle soup of Chinese origin.


  • AzumaZushi (東寿司), 熊本市水前寺5丁目5-14 (between Suizenji Park and the Kumamoto Budokan), ☎ +81 96-383-2468. Probably the oldest and the best sushi restaurant in Kumamoto. The rice for the sushi is made according to the traditional recipe of the owner's family. Besides first quality sushi here you can find basashi (the tradition Kumamoto raw horse meat) and, during winter, mushizushi (literally "steamed sushi"; a famous original recipe of the restaurant) and a lot of great Japanese foods (both raw and cooked) and beverages (nihonshu, shochu,...). The place is very "Japanese", clean, and comfortable; the staff is nice, friendly and considerate. A must in Kumamoto!
  • Kumamoto Ramen 熊本ラーメン. Kumamoto ramen is very famous
  • Ni no ni 弐ノ弐. There are two of them downtown. One is just off of Shimotori on one of the side streets south of Ginza St. The other is on Kami-no-ura St. 上乃裏通り which runs parallel to Namigizaka St. 並木坂通り a couple blocks to the east (Namigizaka is the continuation of Kamitori after the arcade roof ends). Ni no ni is very famous for the gyoza 餃子. Try the tan tan men 坦坦麺and Taipei Karaage 台北風唐揚げtoo. 
  • Yokobachi よこばち, Kami-no-ura St. 上之裏通り (Walk to the place where Kami-tori's roof ends, face North (away from the roof). Go to your right 2 (maybe 3) blocks, turn left, and look for a blue and white YOKOBACHI sign within 20m on your left-hand side. Across from one of the Ni no Ni). Open until midnight. This is a great Japanese restaurant. You can get many traditional foods and some local stuff too. They have outdoor and indoor seating. In the spring and fall its great sitting outside under the stars. The menu is in Japanese only, but if you can say the names of some local specialties or typical izakaya dishes you might be okay. Everyone in Kumamoto knows this place so if you can't find it just ask someone.
  • Sri Lanka スリーランカ, Sannenzaka St. 三年坂通り. This place has some of the best curries in town. The curry is spicy but the taste is amazing. We recommend the noodle curry. Some of the side dishes such as the Sri Lanka Rolls are also good. You can try Sri Lanka beer if you want but I wasn`t a big fan. The lunch special is a bargain. This is just off of Shimotori and very close to Daiei Dept. Store.
  • Star of India, Sannenzaka St. 三年坂通り. This is the best Indian food in town, it is just behind the downtown Tsutaya and between Shimotori and Kagomachi-doori St.
  • Second Sight, Sakae St. 栄え通り. This building has various restaurants and places to have fun. The Swiss Bakery and Chinese restaurant are on the first floor. The second floor is a great Italian restaurant and the top two floors are themed karaoke rooms. You can sing in jail, on the beach, etc...When the weather is good Second Sight has a retractable wall that opens up and brings in the sun to the main lobby.
  • Yayoiken, Shimotori, Kamitori. This place is open 24 hours and there are one in Shimotori and Kamitori. It is a great place to go when you have been out all night drinking and are sick of McD`s. The tonkatsu is good and the rice is all you can eat. 
  • Goro`s. 4:30-10PM. this is the place with the best Turkish kebabs in Kyushu. Goro makes them fresh right in front of you from his van. Unfortunately, it isn`t downtown. If you take the tram towards Kengun it is between the Miso Tenjin Mae and Shin Suizenji Stops. It is an orange van behind the Mitsubishi gas station. Goro speaks English and welcomes foreign guests. He also recently opened up a kebab restaurant downtown near Kaminoura St. 
  • Nikumaki, Ginza Doori (in the heart of downtown at the center of Shimotori Arcade and Ginza St. intersection). Nikumaki is a recent Kumamoto fad. It is an onigiri (rice ball) but instead of being wrapped in seaweed (nori) it is wrapped with meat (niku), you can add cheese too. It is awesome and pretty cheap. they are a good snack when you're drunk after midnight or you just gotta have that meat edit
  • Okada おかだ, 1F, Lofty Nishiginza-kan, 1-11-21, Shimotori, Kumamoto-shi, ☎ +81 96-356-3883. Excellent seafood directly from local fishermen and from Hokkaido as well as a variety of local cuisine for the amazingly reasonable price! Good selection of Sake and Shochu, Japanese distilled spirit.
  • Kōrantei (紅蘭亭) (In Shimotori arcade, above a Swiss pastry shop). This Chinese restaurant offers among others the taipi-en (太平燕) 


  • Timeless is a cafe (not a chain) with an exceptionally nice old style atmosphere, usually playing jazz. It is on the right when you exit the Kamitori shopping mall. They have an international selection of coffees (though espresso could be added) and some European style cakes that are worth trying.
  • Pronto is an Italian-style coffee shop located in (again) Shimotori. Aside from coffee, the selection includes various alcoholic beverages, pizza, and desserts.
  • Sinh to is a stylish cafe looking down onto Shimotori street from the 2nd floor.
  • Jeff's World Bar is a popular hang out with English speakers. This is the main expat bar in town. It is usually crowded on Friday and Saturday. It is located south of the Shimotori shopping area. It's about a block from the Daiei Department store. It's on the second floor, so you have to look up to see the sign.
  • The Ginza district comprises many bars and clubs of the western style, it runs parallel to Shimotori, though be warned the area also houses some of the city's seedier attractions.
  • Rock Bar Days, Sakaba St. 酒場通り. This is the bar with 5000 CDs. Mainly rock and alternative music from the 70s-90s. It is a little hard to find. Sakaba St. is just off of Shimotori. If you go down the side with the Sakaba St. gate about 100 meters, a sign will say DAYS in black and white. It's on the 3rd floor.
  • Club Django, Fuji St. This is the main place for local rock, punk, and metal. Sometimes touring bands from the overseas play here. Fuji Street is just off of the Shinshigai Arcade新市街. Club Django is underground so it is easy to pass by it without seeing it. It is almost directly across the street from the Comfort Inn Hotel.
  • Drum Be-9 (on the north side of downtown and just off of Kamitori on Oaks St). This is another place for local and national acts to be seen. Mainly rock and alternative music. The new building opened in March 2010. It is three stories and three stages with music most nights of the week.
  • Shark Attack. Small foreigner bar just off of Kagomachi St. 鹿児町通り it's across from 7-Eleven on the 8th floor. The floor is covered in sand.
  • Bar Sanctuary. This is a four-story bar with areas for dancing, pool, darts, karaoke, and just chillin`. The name recently changed but everyone still calls it by the old name. It is just off of Shimotori and behind the Taigeki (Bowling Alley) Building. City Hall is also very close. 
  • Shotengai 商店街. In Japan new bars open and shut down every day. As long as you stay in the Shimotori/Kamitori/Shinshigai Arcade area you are bound to find something that looks interesting. There are thousands of places to go in that area.
  • Good Time Charlie`s, Ginza St. 銀座通り. This bar is one of a kind. It is owned by Charlie Nagatani, the most famous country musician in Asia. From the 1960s-90s he played many times at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. His band has shows every night of the week at the bar. They serve Coors beer here. It's not very cheap but its worth experiencing Japanese cowboys at least once. The bar is on Ginza St. across from the Karaoke-kan カラオケ館building on the 5th floor.
  • Crossroad`s, Nishi Ginza Doori. a recently reopened international bar. it has a nice atmosphere and sometimes can be crowded. it's in the Fujiichi building on the 7th floor right across the hall from Club Jail.
  • Cowboy Bar, Nishi Ginza Doori. It's right across the street from the big Don Quixote store.
  • Cowgirl Bar, Pools Court Rd. same owners as Cowboy Bar have one with only women serving on Pool`s Court Road, which is just one road over from Nishi Ginza.
  • Retro Cowboy Bar, Nishi Ginza Doori. Another one owned by the Cowboy Bar folks. it's just down the street from Cowboy Bar but it's in the basement so it's easy to pass by. A little more expensive than the other cowboy bars but more things to do like free karaoke and darts. 
  • Battle Stage, Kamitori, Kumamoto City. Another place to listen to live music in the city. It's a former movie theater transformed into a big live house. Many rock shows and DJ parties occur here. Many national touring bands and local bands can be seen here.

Shopping in Kumamoto, Japan

  • Kamitōri (上通) (west to the castle, in the continuation of Shimotōri). One of the two most popular and accessible shopping districts inside the city. It houses a wide variety of shops and cafes, the rear entrance opens out onto an area where a large number of traditional Japanese restaurants are situated.
  • Shimotōri (下通り) (south to the castle, in the continuation of Kamitōri). The other and larger of the two districts, the selection of the shops is very much the same as Kamitori though naturally more comprehensive given the size. Many backstreet shopping areas offshoot from the sides of Shimatori, so if you're looking for something special be sure to remember that.
  • Hikari no Mori (光の森) is a large shopping center. There are many shops including Kinokuniya, Shinseido, Mujirushi, Starbucks café, and so on. It also contains a large cinema complex with 9 cinema theatres.
  • Tsuruya- there are 6 "Tsuruya" department stores in Kumamoto city. They are "The Main building and the East building of Tsuruya," "New-S" and "WINGⅡ," "Comme ca store," "Nextage," and "Brooks Brothers." These buildings are located in "Shimotori" or "Kamitori."
  • Kenmin Hyakkaten (県民百貨店)- Kenmin Hyakkaten (renamed from Kumamoto Hanshin)is a big department store and it is located near the "Kumamoto castle" and next to Kumamoto bus terminal. Kenmin Hyakkaten sells goods of "Hanshin Tigers", a popular Japanese baseball team.
  • Rice Terrace is a general shop at Kamitori. It is opened in November. You can buy any cute goods at a low price. There are bags, accessories, glasses and many goods.
  • Æon Mall (イオンモール). Formerly "Diamond City CLAIR Shopping Mall," it is the biggest shopping mall in Kumamoto and at the time of building the biggest mall in Kyushu. It has about 190 stores, a huge Warner Brothers Movie Theater, and a Food Mall with some good restaurants. It is on the far south side of the city and takes about 30-45 minutes to get there from downtown depending on how bad traffic is.
  • AUNE Kumamoto, Torichosuji. This is the newest shopping mall in Kumamoto. It opened at the end of 2008. It is right in the heart of downtown at the Torichosuji Tram Stop.
  • Foreign Foods. If you just gotta have that foreign snack or macaroni and cheese, there are a few places you can go in town. There are two Don Quixote`s, one on Nishi Ginza St. and the other in Kami-Kumamoto. They have a lot like Doritos, Dr. Pepper, beef jerky, etc. In Kamitori, there is a Sony Plaza in the basement of the New-S Mall it also has many western snacks and lots of European chocolates. The Tsurya Dept. The store has some stuff in the second basement, but it is mostly expensive. Lastly, there is a small shop on the 6th floor of the Wing Gap building, that's where to buy macaroni and cheese and root beer among other things.
  • Shinshigai Sunroad (新市街サンロード). This is the third major arcade downtown. It is billed as the widest arcade in Kyushu. It is known for karaoke, pachinko, and hotels. It connects with Shimotori Arcade and Shower Road (an uncovered shopping street).
  • Piacres (ピアクレス). The only shopping arcade outside of downtown. Piacres is at the end of the tram line at Kengun Station(健軍電停)on the east side of the city.

Safety in Kumamoto, Japan

In general, Kumamoto is safe. However, you should always use your common sense just like in any other place. 
Sometimes, pickpocketing may occur so always stay alert, particularly in crowded places.

Language spoken in Kumamoto, Japan

Japanese is the main language. English is spoken in tourist places.


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