Kumamoto Guide - Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Prefecture

The Kumamoto region is located along the west coast of Kyushu. It’s less than 40mins by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Hakata station (Fukuoka). Kumamoto is blessed with a magnificent abundance of nature and it is famous for Mt Aso, which is an active volcano with one of the world's largest calderas. The city's most famous landmark is Kumamoto Castle and it’s considered to be one of the three principal castles in Japan, along with Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle.

Main cities and towns: Kumamoto, Aso, Kurokawa, Amakusa, Yatsushiro

Things to do in Kumamoto

Mt. Aso

Mt. Aso

There is no freestanding mountain called Mt. Aso, so ‘Mt. Aso’ is the entire area up to the caldera's outer rim.
It is designated as one of UNESCO Global Geoparks and also part of Aso-Kuju National Park.
Aso Caldera measures approximately 18 km from east to west and 25 km north to south. At 350 square kilometers, it is one of the world's largest collapsed volcanoes.
In the center of the caldera soars Mt. Naka-dake, which even today steams with volcanic fumes, along with the four other peaks comprising Aso Gogaku (five mounteins) - Mt. Taka-dake, Mt. Neko-dake, Mt. Kijima-dake, and Mt. Eboshi-dake), which are part of a central cone group made up of many mountains.
To the north and south of this cone group stretches the flat caldera floor, encircled by the caldera's outer rim. Beyond that lies gentle topography formed by the volcano's pyroclastic flow.

Visitors can access to the Naka-dake caldera by car (self-driving or taxi) or Mt. Aso Loop bus. It is the only place in Japan where you can get very close to the crater of active volcano.

ASO UNESCO Global Geopark official website:

Information on restrictions for the Aso Volcano Crater

After 3 years and half prohibition to see up close Naka-dake Crater of Mt. Aso, Now, as of 28th February 2018, visitors can peer directly inside the crater which is possible only at the few volcanos in the world!! It is accessible by car (toll 800 yen) and Mt. Aso Loop Shuttle bus (1,200 yen per adult/600 yen per child)
Aso city Official site: http://www.aso.ne.jp/~volcano/eng/index.html

Aso area map

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle

The feudal lord, Kiyomasa Kato began the construction in 1601 and it took seven years to complete. The signature curved stone walls, known as ‘musha-gaeshi’, were designed to prevent attackers from penetrating the castle. Rock falls were also used as a deterrent.

Tenshukaku (the Main Tower) standing today, is a replica which was reconstructed in 1960.

The castle area is one of the best viewing spots for cherry blossoms in Kumamoto with over 600 cherry trees in three different types. The park is open to the public at night while the cherry flowers are in full bloom from late March to early April.

Please note Kumamoto Castle is currently closed due to severe damage caused by the series of earthquakes in April 2016.

‘Tenshukaku 天守閣 (Main Castle Tower)’ which was damaged, can be viewed from outside of ‘Kenmotsu Dai Botanical Garden
and ‘Ninomaru Park 二の丸広場’.

The following major tourist spots are also closed until further notice.

Kenmotsu Dai Botanical Garden
Former residence of Hosokawa Gyobu
Kumamoto city Museum
Kumamoto city zoological and botanical gardens
Please contact Kumamoto Tourist Information Centre for more details.

Visitor Information
  • Access: 10mins by bus from JR Kumamoto station
  • Admission: JPY500
  • Opening Hours:
    April - October: 8:30am - 5:30pm
    November - March: 8:30am - 4:30pm
    Closed: 29th - 31st December

Suizenji Joujuen (Suizenji Park)

Suizenji Park

The landscape Japanese garden represents the fifty three stations of Tokaido Road, including a small replica of Mt Fuji.

Visitor Information
  • Access: 30mins tram ride from JR Kumamoto-ekimae (or 10mins tram ride from Kumamoto Castle) and 3mins walk from Suizenji Park tram stop
  • Admission: JPY400
  • Opening Hours:
    March - October: 7:30am - 6:00pm
    November – February: 8:30am - 5:00pm



Kurokawa Onsen is one of the most charming small hot spring towns located in the Kumamoto region.

There are no massive concrete hotels or neon advertisements in this area. The town is well maintained by a preservation project make sure the nostalgic atmosphere remains untouched.

The Kurokawa onsen is popular for "Nyuto Tegata" (the pass for the open air bath tour). The pass is sold for 1200 yen and it’s valid for six months. You can choose three open air baths at different Ryokans.

Visitor Information
  • Access: 2hours by highway bus from Hakata bus terminal or Fukuoka Airport

Seasonal Events

Yamaga Toro Festival : 15–16 Aug

Yamaga Toro Festival

This festival is held at Omiya Shrine in Yamaga city and it is one of the three greatest festivals in Kumamoto.

The highlight of this festival is the Sennin Toro Odori on the second day. 1,000 women dressed in Yukata (summer cotton kimono) with lighted gold and silver lanterns on their heads, elegantly dance.

What to eat in Kumamoto

Kumamoto Ramen

Kumamoto Ramen
Kumamoto-style ramen is famous for its rich soup made from pork and chicken bones, the thick and firm noodles, and the seasonings of garlic chips and browned garlic oil.


Basashi (Horse Meat Sashimi)
Basashi is one of the best local specialties of Kumamoto. It is low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and so tender, especially the marbled meat, that it practically melts in your mouth.


Tours in Kyushu