Kumamoto Travel Guide

  • And the procession begins!
    And the procession begins!
    by sanukseeker
  • Suizenji Park
    Suizenji Park
    by sanukseeker
  • Uto Yagura turret
    Uto Yagura turret
    by aukahkay

Kumamoto Things to Do

  • Shrines

    There was a very colourful inari fox shrine and a shinto shrine very near one of the castle gates. I liked the fact that the inarl shrine had lucky cat purification wash basins.

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  • Kumamoto Castle

    Get to Kumamoto Castle by taking the tram from Kumamoto Station. A journey costs 150 yen, pay when you exit. The castle is open from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Adm is 500 yen.The original castle was built in 1607 after only 7 years work. It was the third largest castle in Japan and was built by Kato Kiyomasa. The castle was beseiged and burnt down during...

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  • Visit the Zoological and Biological...

    The best place to go to if you are travelling with kids, for aside from the zoo and botanical gardens, there is even an amusement park on the ground, so you can easily while away an afternoon with your kids and have a whale of a time.In regards to the main attractions, the zoo offers a comprehensive selection of animals from all over the world--you...

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  • Cheese Bar Shirokuma

    A trip to Cheese Bar won't be complete without trying out its mouth-watering cheese desserts. What's more, the personable bar owner was kind enough to show us her stock of cheese and let us work for our own cheese (See photo attached for a clearer explanation).I also enjoyed a nice glass of hot red wine that comprised kinmikan (a kind of orange...

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  • 3333 Stone Steps

    People often sign up for marathons in order to test their physical and mental limits. It is in my humble opinion that there is a more interesting (and less gruelling) way to do so by climbing the 3,333 stone staircase in Misato county, Kumamoto (though I'm currently flirting with the idea of undertaking the Kumamoto castle marathon next year. Go...

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  • Suizenji Park

    Suizenji Park is a sight that warrants a visit but given that it costs 400 yen per admission, I thought it was disappointingly small, especially when some of the major must-gos in Japan don't cost a single cent (or yen). I could finish walking its entire perimeter in 10-15 mins and felt compelled to walk another round to get back my money's...

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  • Drunken Horse Festival in Kumamoto

    The Drunken Horse Festival is the biggest festival held in Kumamoto City, so be sure to watch it when you are in town during September. Contrary to the name, the horses are no longer fed alcohol even though it certainly looks that way when they stagger through the streets!There will be a procession going on throughout the entire city but you can...

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  • Mifune Dinosaur Museum

    There are no English explanations in this museum, so it won't be interesting to those who don't understand Japanese. Thankfully, I had a Japanese friend--a junior high school science teacher, no less--with me, so he helped explain the exhibits. My teacher friend enlightened me that Japanese students learn about dinosaurs for science classes in both...

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  • Kumamoto Castle

    Kumamoto Castle was constructed by the Kato Clan in 1607. Half a century later, it was handed over to the Hosokawa Clan, which ruled from there for over 200 years until the end of the feudal age. In 1877, Kumamoto Castle became the site of Japan's last civil war, when an army of former samurai under Saigo Takamori unsuccessfully rose against the...

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Kumamoto Hotels

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Kumamoto Restaurants

  • 7 scoops of ice-cream for 500 yen!

    If you are lucky enough to arrive at Kumamoto City on Wednesday, be sure to flock to our local Haagen Daazs, for you can order a Happy Cup that comprises SEVEN scoops of ice-cream for 500 yen. An excellent way to chill out and enjoy a cosy chat with friends!Not kidding you. You can even customise your cup by choosing from a wide array of flavours,...

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  • Try horse meat!

    Kumabar is set up to introduce Kumamoto's home-grown beer to the world, which is why you'll find Kumamon, the prefectural mascot prominently seated at the bar itself. But what intrigued my friend and I was the horse tendons--horse meat is a specialty of Kumamoto. Although all kinds of meats seem to taste like chicken when it comes down to it,...

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  • Absolutely the best sushi restaurant in...

    Probably the oldest and the best sushi restaurant in Kumamoto: the rice for the sushi is made according to the traditional recipe of the owner's family. Besides from sushi you can find a lot of great Japanese foods and beverages. The place is new clean, and comfortable; staff is nice, friendly and fast. A must in Kumamoto! All the sushi is great!...

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  • Horsemeat sashimi

    Horsemeat sashimi is a native dish originating from Kumamoto. Accompanied by ginger and onion, `basashi' has become known as a delicacy that melts in the mouth. Various restaurants and izakayas in Kumamoto serve this traditional dish.

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  • Buy your meal from a machine!

    I chose this restaurant because it had plastic meal displays in the window which gives you a good idea of what you get. This is the only time when I actually bought my meal with a meal ticket. I must admit that I did get some help in doing so. There is a meal ticket machine which shows you the price and a small picture of the meal. The meal came...

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  • Yum, yum yakitori

    Tanuki, a local yakitori-ya. Yakitori, yakiniku. Little barbecued meat on a stick with sauce. Very good anywhere you can get it.

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Kumamoto Nightlife

  • Kumamoto Bars

    In my various drunken sprawls around the downtown kumamoto area, I'd have to say bar days is the coolest bar found yet. Kind of a rock grungy feel to it, but if you're into music this is the place to be cos it has around 1000 cd's lining the walls.Reading the other comments, sanctuary is no doubt a cheap place to get a drink, but it's also a little...

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  • Japanese Honky Tonk

    A honky tonk isn't exactly what you would expect to find in southern Japan. But the owner, Charlie Nagatani, makes sure everyone has a good time listening to him play the sound he fell in love with as a kid. I think he's more Texan than I am.

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  • Kumamoto Hotels

    98 Hotels in Kumamoto

Kumamoto Transportation

  • Tramways

    A good way to get from the railway station into the center is to take a tram. Also if you choose to stay in one of the 2 youth hostels, you will have to use it. Of course, you can walk into the city center but it's a fairly long walk.

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  • By train

    I arrived by train to Kumamoto from Hakata. Kumamoto train station has all the usual facilities including a tourist office. I also used a café there on the upper floor.

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  • TRAIN TRAVEL IN JAPAN

    The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to travel around Japan. Unfortunately it isn't very cheap! Luckily there is a Japan JR Rail Pass available to foreign travellers. See the JR East website for details: It must be bought abroad and stamped in Japan before you can use it. There are several options including one week (unlimited JR...

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Kumamoto Shopping

  • yumyum's Profile Photo

    by yumyum Updated Feb 4, 2008

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    Kumamoto has some big shopping arcades which are in fact covered pedestrianised streets. In the Shimotori and the Kamitori Arcade streets you will find many different shops including a 105 Yen shop.

    These arcades are especially useful in bad weather and also have restaurants and cafés.

    Shimotori Arcade

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Kumamoto Local Customs

  • Try basashi - horsemeat

    Kumamoto is known for horsemeat and it is a regional specialty they are quite proud of. It is served raw on a plate, with a side of soy sauce and ginger paste, sometimes garlic paste. Shaved white onion adds to the flavor. The meat is cut in a certain fashion to avoid the chewiness of typical raw meat.When you eat basashi, you will probably find it...

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  • Kumamoto Style Ramen

    Although ramen noodles are common all through Japan, each region has its own style and Kumamoto is no exception. You can get any style, but the one we had had a white soup that seemed less salty than most and had a fresher, almost creamier taste. We got it in a typical neighborhood noodle shop.

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  • Kumamoto's Specialty

    So for the first time back in 1992 I had a chance to eat Sakura niku (raw horse meat).I found out what it was after I had already eaten it. Well, it's not that bad. Kumamoto is apparently famous for it's raw horse meat.It also goes by the name Basashi. Or if you can't remember that try saying Nama no Uma no niku (literally raw horse meat).Many...

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Kumamoto What to Pack

  • kiwigal_1's Profile Photo

    by kiwigal_1 Updated Jun 21, 2004

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    Luggage and bags: If you plan on doing a lot of train travel when you are in Japan then I suggest that you decline from bringing large, heavy suitcases. Most train stations in Japan have huge staircases (often no lift) so lugging a big suitcase is not an easy task. I suggest a good backpack would be a good choice.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Rainy Season is around June/July and rain weather gear is essential. I just use an umbrella but there have been times that I have got completely soaked!! I can't buy shoes in Japan so I have had to think carefully before I came about what kind of footwear to buy. Note: Easy to slip on and off shoes are best and if you are going to work in a public building you will need 'indoor' shoes to wear. The Japanese always take their outdoor shoes off before entering their house or work.
    Kumamoto is hot and humid in summer and has cool winters but snow falls very infrequently.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Most things you will need can be purcahsed here. I don't recommend going to a hospital in Japan unless you really need to. In most cases the pharmacist will be able to help you if you tell them what is wrong and what kind of medicine you are looking for (a phrase book will have this in it).

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Places like Aso-Kuju Mountains in Kumamoto/Oita Prefectures are great places for experiencing outdoors in Japan. Tramping in these hills is a popular summer pastime. Bring your favourite gear as buying this kind of equipment is expensive.

    Related to:
    • Work Abroad
    • Budget Travel

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Kumamoto Off The Beaten Path

  • Roast your own mochi

    Kumamoto was formerly known as the Fire Nation (Hi no Kuni), an apt moniker to describe the warm nature of people in Kumamoto. This is illustrated by how the farmers at Tomonji Area in Yoshino on Mt Kimpo organise four agricultural events every year. Heck, they even provide a free lunch! Their hospitality is incredible.On Jan 14th, I had the...

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  • Shinto torchlight ritual at Aso shrine

    The Aso fire festival might have been designed to express prayers for a bountiful harvest but it also serves another useful purpose for the visiting tourist: to provide some much-needed warmth in this awkward transition from winter to spring when Japan still startles you with her bitter and strong gusts of wind. Which is beyond awesome in my...

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  • Visit the International Centre in...

    Wifi is hard to find in Japan--not even your trusty Macdonalds outlet in Kumamoto provides Wifi. Hence, the International Centre in Kumamoto City which is incidentally located very near Kumamoto Castle solves your Internet woes by enabling you to use one of their three computers with free internet access. What's more, the counter staff speak...

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Kumamoto Favorites

  • Check your emails

    In Kumamoto it's possible to get a free internet session in the Kumamoto City International Center. Grab a map from the tourist office in the railway station. The building is marked on the map and is close to the tram stop Kumamotojo-mae and the castle.

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  • Enjoy the locals

    Meet the people. There is a lot to do and the locals are extremely friendly. Eating yakitori, riding on a motorcycle through the nearby mountains, and doing my best Dylan impersonation at a karaoke bar.

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  • Kumamoto Castle.

    Visit KUMAMOTO CASTLE: Completed in 1607, Kumamoto Castle is more martial in appearance with impregnable walls. The original castle was almost completely destroyed in the Seinan War in 1877 & the present reprica is built to evoke the fearsome magnificence of the original castle.

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