A japanese garden called Suizenji in Kumamoto, Japan
ADVENTURE IN SAMURAI CITY

Cruise to Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto City offers insight into both Japan's samurai past and its modern-day love of kawaii cuteness. Check out the city's old downtown area dominated by Kumamoto Castle, a reconstruction of the fortress from which samurai lords ruled their domain. Cruise to Kumamoto and walk alongside the Shirakawa River past traditional Japanese gardens the homes of prominent 19th- and 20th-century writers — pop into the former residence of Lafcadio Hearn, one of the first Western writers to settle in Japan. Then, see ancient and modern art and relax in the calming stone garden at the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, or head to Musashizuka Park to see the tomb and statue of famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.
National Language Japanese
Currency Accepted Japanese Yen (JPY)

Things To Do in Kumamoto

View from below of the castle in Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto, Japan View from Bottom Of Castle

Home of the Samurai

Home of the Samurai

Kumamoto Castle is a stunning samurai fortress with spectacular rooms of tatami, wood and painted panels beneath its somber, soot-black exterior. Originally built in the 17th century, it's at its prettiest in spring, when hundreds of cherry trees around the moat are in bloom. It's under reconstruction after the 2016 earthquakes, but you can still view parts of the fortifications from around Ninomaru Square and Kato Shrine.

Haiden of Inari Shrine at Suizenji Jojoen Garden in Kumamoto

Kumamoto, Japan Shrine

Suizenji Stroll

Suizenji Stroll

Dating back to 1632, Suizenji Garden is like a picture come to life. You'll find beautiful cherry trees, pines and elegant arched bridges over a central pond at this traditional Japanese garden. The grounds have been landscaped into small "hills." You'll also find a Shinto shrine and a mini Mt. Fuji to evoke the ancient Tokaido road that linked Kyoto with Edo (present-day Tokyo).

An inside look of a Japanese home in Kumamoto, Japan

Kumamoto, Japan Japanese Home Zen

Literary Lives

Explore the tatami-mat rooms and gardens the former homes of two prominent writers who lived in Kumamoto. The residence of Natsume Soseki celebrates the author of "I Am a Cat," who lived here around 1900 while teaching at Kumamoto University. The Lafcadio Hearn residence is dedicated to the Greek-Irish author of "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" who lived here in the 1890s.

Traditional ramen noodles in a bowl in Japan

Kumamoto, Japan Traditional Ramen

Local Cuisine

Kumamoto's culinary claim to fame is Kumamoto ramen — the local take on the pan-Japanese soup features a mild pork broth, medium-sized noodles and smoky fried garlic chips. Cruise to Kumamoto to try Red Wagyu donburi, with rare-seared strips of lean Wagyu beef served over rice with an oozy egg. Snack of karashi renkon (fried lotus root dipped in mustard), and sample some shochu, the Kyushu's region's nutty-tasting liqueur.

Japanese lanterns hung from tree to tree

Kumamoto, Japan Lanterns

Shopping

The Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center is a museum and shop offering a wide range of local handicrafts. There are some 80 craft types on display here, including Yamaga lanterns, Higo gold inlay metal craft and ceramics. For more modern souvenirs — including items imprinted with Kumamon, the cute bear that serves as Kumamoto's mascot — try the Kumamoto Prefectural Products Center.

Insider's Tips
Insider's Tips
1 Remember that many small restaurants, cafes and bars in Japan may not accept credit cards, so carry enough cash.
2 Tipping is not done in Japan, but gifts from one's homeland are always appreciated.

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