Kumamoto (熊本), is known as the “Heart of Kyushu Island” because it is located in the center of Kyushu Island Japan. It has dynamic history, magnificent natural beauty, natural hot-springs, active volcano in Mount Aso, UNESCO World Heritage Catholic Church Amakusa.
The “Kumamoto Castle (熊本城)” is the symbol of Kumamoto and, it is Japan’s most popular castle. Also, the Kumamoto character KUMA (Bear) is very famous across the world. If you are planning to visit Kumamoto, then here are all the tips you’ll need to know for your first visit to Kumamoto.
How to get in: Public Transport
Kumamoto has both an international and a domestic airport. So, it’s easy to access from any part of Japan and, across the world because of Hong Kong (many connecting flights) and Seoul.
- Seoul (Incheon Airport) – 1 hour 10 minutes approx.
- Hong Kong Airport – 3 hours approx.
- Tokyo, Heneda Airport – 1 hour 40 minutes approx.
- Osaka, Itami Airport – 1 hour 10 minutes approx.
- Nagoya – 1 hour 30 minutes approx.
Fare: 9000 Yen ～ 45000 Yen
By Bullet Train (Shinkansen):
- Tokyo – 6 hours approx.
- Osaka – 3 hours approx.
- Nagoya – 5 hours approx.
- Fukuoka – 35 minutes approx.
Fare: 2760 Yen ～ 20000 Yen
By Express Bus:
- Nagoya – 11 hours approx.
- Osaka – 9-10 hours approx.
- Fukuoka – 2 hours approx.
Fare: 2060 Yen ～ 14000 Yen
Hinokuni-go Bus runs on every 10-15 min interval from Kumamoto City to Fukuoka (Hakata & Tenjin). And an hourly bus runs form Kumamoto – Fukuoka Airport (which does not go to Hakata / Tenjin). The total distance is around 110 km which takes around 2 hours.
Fare: It varies if you buy online or from ticket counter.
- Fare of 1 ticket from Kumamoto Sta.-Fukuoka (Hakata / Tenjin / Airport) : 2280 Yen
- Fare of 2 ticket from Kumamoto Sta.-Fukuoka (Hakata / Tenjin / Airport) : 4100 Yen
- Fare of 4 ticket from Kumamoto Sta.-Fukuoka (Hakata / Tenjin / Airport) : 7600 Yen
- Fare of 4 ticket from Kumamoto Sta.-Fukuoka (Hakata / Tenjin / Airport) : 7120 Yen (Buy from Bus Mori Apps)
Kumamoto is truly blessed with abundant nature and delicious cuisines. There are some other reasons that make Kumamoto a very special city and one of the most satisfying places in the World to live here. Here is the list of the spots that attract the visitors.
Kumamoto Castle (熊本城):
Kumamoto Castle (熊本城) is a symbol of Kumamoto and it is considered to be Japan’s top 5 popular castles. It was built in 1607 by Kato Kiyomasa. This castle had influenced the history of Kumamoto to a noticeable extent.
Unfortunately, the castle got a serious damage during an earthquake in 2016. Tourist can visit by Tram or Bus from Kumamoto Sta. to Kumamoto Kotsu center and followed by a walk of 5-7 minutes.
Sakura-no-baba Johsaien (桜の馬場城彩苑):
Sakura-no-baba is the entrance of Kumamoto Castle. Tourists can experience the visual effects about Kumamoto’s history and culture. There are restaurants and shops which attract visitors for their unique tastes. This place turns very beautiful during Sakura season (Cherry Tree).
Also, some small musical events are regularly organized here. Tourists can visit by Tram or Bus from Kumamoto Sta. But, Kumamoto Castle is on 5-7 minutes walking distance from Kumamoto Kotsu center.
Suizenji Jojuen (水前寺公園):
Suizenji Garden is a very beautiful spot in Kumamoto with a lake. This historical garden design is based on Tokaido (東海道五十三次) road map that connects to Tokyo-Kyoto during Edo period. As you can see the hill that represents the Mt. Fuji and the pond represents the Lake Biwa!
Tourists can visit there by Tram or Bus from Kumamoto Sta./Kumamoto Kotsu center. Both tram and bus are run on every 10 minutes.
Hosokawa Gyobutei (細川刑部邸):
This is a former residence of Hosokawa Gyobu. During Edo period high class Samurai used to stay there, now it is restored in the memory of Samurai. There is a combined ticket for visiting both the Castle and this residence @ 640 Yen.
Tourist can visit by Bus from Kumamoto Sta. or Kumamoto Kotsu center. It takes approx. 10-15 minutes.
Reigando Cave (Spirit Rock Cave):
It is best known for the great swordsman and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi. He came to Kumamoto in 1640 where he meditated for around 5 years and wrote the famous book “The Book of Five Rings”.
Tourist can visit by Bus from Kumamoto Kotsu center. It takes around 20 minutes. Get off the bus at Iwato-kanon-iriguchi Bus Stop then walk for around 20 minutes and you have reached.
This park is known for the scenic view of Kumamoto City and the Buddhist temple. This park is located just behind (north-west) the Kumamoto Sta. Hanaokayama Buddhist Temple is also known as “Nipponzan Myohoji Daisanga” which was founded in 1917. This temple is very popular across the world and known as “Peace Pagodas“.
Tourists can visit here by climbing the stairs for approx. 15-20 minutes. Now, this is very popular among the tourists as a romantic spot. Going there by car and enjoying an amazing night view of Kumamoto City in the evening is an experience not to be missed.
Kumamoto is blessed with its natural ground water resource which makes Kumamoto “Japan’s No.1 ground water city”. The most popular foods are Donburi (red wagyu beef), Bashashi (horse meat), Kumamoto Ramen (noodles), Sushi (raw fish).
Sweets like Ikinari Dango is made by sweet potatoes covered by red bean paste and then wrapped in steamed rice flour. Matsukaze is made by rice flour, beet sugar, egg and poppy seed blend together. You can enjoy it with a cup of green tea. Also try Musha-gaeshi snacks.
Fruits & Vegetables:
All thanks to the pure ground water and other natural resources, for resulting in Kumamoto a rich city in agriculture. Thus a fruitful producer of delicious fruits such as; Watermelon, Strawberry, Orange, Melon etc. and vegetables such as Tomatoes, Eggplant, Sweat potatoes, Bitter gourd etc..
Quality Drinking Water:
A quality mineral water is a basic necessity for every day-life. Thanks to Kikuchi river, Kumagawa river, Midorikawa river and Shirakawa river for fulfilling this need.
If you are planning to travel to Kumamoto by air, then take a Airport Limousine Bus form Aso Kumamoto Airport to Kumamoto downtown. Further, if you are planning to travel by Bullet train, book your ticket online to get discount offers.
If you are planning to travel from Fukuoka airport then, it is recommend to take an Express bus because there will be wastage of time & money in travelling from Fukuoka airport to Hakata and changing for Bullet train (Shinkansen) for Kumamoto.
Hope it will help you in traveling to Kumamoto. Have a nice journey!