A castle town once prosperous as a river port. The Kuma-gawa River and tours of a limestone cave.
Hitoyoshi is the major city in the Hitoyoshi Basin in the southern part of Kumamoto, surrounded by the Kyushu Mountains. Up until sometime in the latter half of the 19th century, there was a busy port along the Kuma-gawa River running through the town of Hitoyoshi, where lumber was collected and distributed.
Hitoyoshi, a 700-year-old castle town, boasts the ruins of Hitoyoshi Castle (the residence of the Sagara family, who governed the area), Aoi-Aso-jinja Shrine (dedicated to the tutelary deity for the Hitoyoshi and Kuma areas), and the Hitoyoshi-onsen Hot Spring. With more than 50 spring resources, the Hitoyoshi-onsen has hot spring inns and public baths dotted around Hitoyoshi Station and along the Kuma-gawa River, where many tourists and local people come to relax.
A 4.8-kilometer-long limestone cave, named Kyusen-do, is situated near Hitoyoshi. In addition to the standard sightseeing tour, visitors can join a tour that lets them go deeper into the cave, while wearing a helmet with a light on it. Tourists can take a ride on a boat maneuvered by a master poler down the Kuma-gawa River, one of the three fastest streams in Japan. They can choose from two alternative courses-the Clean Stream Course for a leisurely cruise from the Hitoyoshi Departure Point to Watari and the Fast Current Course for a fast ride past strange-shaped rocks from the Watari Departure Point to Kyusen-do. Recently, another exciting entertainment was added to their choices: They can try rafting a rubber boat down the rapid stream, while receiving instructions from a river guide.
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to Aso-Kumamoto Airport, and 50 min from the airport to Kumamoto Station by bus. 1h from Kumamoto to Hitoyoshi Station by JR Kagoshima-Hisatsu Line (regular express).
[Air] 1h from Itami to Aso-Kumamoto Airport.