Kumamoto - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist

Kumamoto

Modern city with deep ties to the samurai era.

About Kumamoto
Kumamoto is a big city of some 650,000 people located about halfway between Fukuoka and Kagoshima on the southern island of Kyushu. The city has a long history and one of Japan's most impressive castles.

One of Japan's finest castles
It is easy to get around the city on foot or by using the many trams. An absolute must-see is the impressive Kumamoto Castle. The castle has two towers, the main tower with six floors and a smaller tower with four floors. From the top of the main tower, you have a beautiful view of the city and the entire castle area, which is one of the most complete in Japan. Some of the structures and the smaller buildings have survived since the castle was built in 1607, though most have gone through a very faithful reconstruction. Don’t miss the Honmaru Goten Palace, where you can see a reconstruction of the beautifully decorated golden rooms from back when the samurai chief (‘daimyo’) lived there.

Other attractions in Kumamoto
In addition to the castle, the city is known for two things: an exciting cuisine and a long life expectancy. Whether the two things are related remains a mystery, but you should make sure to sample the city's culinary specialities, such as lotus root with chilli-miso and ‘basashi’ - raw horse meat! There are plenty of restaurants in the town's cosy pedestrian area, where you also won’t be able to miss the city's incredibly popular mascot Kumamon, a black bear with red cheeks. You can also buy beautiful, traditional crafts in the city, or visit the Suizenji Jojuen Park, a miniature version of the Tokaido trail that connected Kyoto and Tokyo in the old days. The many miniatures, including a mini Mount Fuji, are a sight to behold.

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