Kumamoto (熊本) is a medium sized city in Kyushu well known for it’s wonderful castle, and now also famous for its mascot, Kumamon. Thousands come here to pick up Kumamon souvenirs and to enjoy this quiet city.
Budget travel tips
- A useful Information Center is located in the main Kumamoto train station. They have various deals and discounts including very reasonable and flexible day passes for local public transportation.
Things to do
Kumamoto Castle (熊本城)
The main reason to visit the city. One of the most awe-inspiring castles, if not buildings, in Japan. Allow a few hours to really explore this mega complex. Get off at Kumamoto Castle bus stop or Shiyakujyo tram stop.
Open: Mar-Nov 8:30-18:30, Dec-Feb 8:30-17:30
Closed: Dec 29-31
Price: Adults 500 yen, Children 200 yen
A wonderful Japanese garden with some rather unique features, such as perfectly manicured mini grass hills, and some cool little shrines. Get off at Suizenji Koen tram stop.
Open: Mar-Oct 7:30-18:00, Nov-Feb 8:30-17:00
Price: Adults 400 yen, Children 200 yen
Just outside the main castle entrance, this area has lots of shops and cafes with interesting Japanese cuisine and souvenirs. Great window shopping. Also features a large Tourist Information Center.
Hosokawa Gyobutei Mansion
Former mansion of a rich feudal lords brother, this is a wonderfully preserved example of a samurai residence. Located in the castle area, see maps here for access. Best to walk here, and experience some nice, free gardens on the way.
Open: Apr-Oct 8:30-17:30, Nov-Mar 8:30-16:30
Closed: Dec 29-31
Price: Adults 300 yen, Children 100 yen
How to get there
With a Japan Rail Pass
Take the Shinkansen to Kumamoto station on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line.
Without a Japan Rail Pass
You can access Kumamoto from any main city in Kyushu or southern Japan, but few have English websites so ask at the train station or bus terminal. Consider the Sun Q Pass if you are traveling a lot in Kyushu. There are also many budget flights to Kumamoto Airport, so check flights as they may be cheaper than buses.
Hostels and cheap hotels
Dyeing and Hostel Nakashimaya