Kumamoto, Kyushu

A castle town reputed for its woodlands and fresh water. Residences of famous writers dot the landscape.

Kumamoto, situated roughly in the center of Kumamoto Prefecture, is the government and economic center of the prefecture. From the early 17th century to the end of the 19th century, Kumamoto was prosperous as a castle town. The Shira-kawa River and its branches run through the downtown area around Kumamoto Castle. Therefore, the city is called "City of Woods and Fresh Water."

Most of Kumamoto Castle, which was designated as a National Historical Site, burned during a war in the late 19th century. The castle tower was rebuilt about 40 years ago. Personal belongings of its lords in different generations, armaments of olden days, etc. are displayed inside the castle tower. The Suizenji Joju-en Garden with a teahouse removed from the Kyoto Imperial Palace is located to the southeast of the castle. The garden, featuring the spots of "Tokaido Goju-san-tsugi," or the Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido, using the rich subsoil flow of Aso, is a popular place for relaxation for people of Kumamoto.

The city also boasts "Koizumi Yakumo's House," where a novelist Lafcadio Hearn (known as "Yakumo Koizumi" in Japan), who came to Japan and taught English in the late 19th century, resided, and the residence of Soseki Natsume, a famous Japanese writer active from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, which has been converted into the Soseki Natsume Memorial Museum. Traditional craft products such as traditional handicraft toys, gold work pieces, pottery and porcelain, woodwork pieces, and bamboo work pieces are exhibited and sold at the Kumamoto Traditional Crafts Center.


From Tokyo:
[Air] 1h 30 min from Haneda to Aso-Kumamoto Airport, and 50 min from the airport to Kumamoto Station by bus.
From Osaka:
[Air] 1h from Itami to Aso-Kumamoto Airport.

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