Attractions

Top Choice Castle in Kumamoto

Kumamoto-jō

Dominating the skyline, Kumamoto's robust castle is one of Japan's best, built in 1601–07 by daimyō Katō Kiyomasa, whose likeness is inescapable around the castle (look for the distinctive tall pointed hat). From 16…
Top Choice Gardens in Kumamoto

Suizenji-jōjuen

Southeast of the city centre, this photogenic lakeside garden represents the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō (the old road that linked Tokyo and Kyoto). The miniature Mt Fuji is instantly recognisable, though much of the…
Buddhist Temple in Kumamoto

Honmyō-ji

On the grounds of this sprawling hillside temple complex northwest of the castle, 176 steps lined with hundreds of lanterns lead to the mausoleum of Katō Kiyomasa (加藤清正公の墓; 1562–1611), daimyō and architect of Kumamo…
Gallery in Kumamoto

Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre

Near the prefectural art museum annexe, this large facility displays local Higo inlay, Yamaga lanterns, porcelain and woodcarvings, many for sale in the excellent museum shop (free entry). Sakuranobaba Johsaien and …
Historic Building in Kumamoto

Sōseki Memorial Hall

Meiji-era novelist Natsume Sōseki (1867–1916) is honoured at the pretty 1870s home where he lived during his four years teaching English in Kumamoto. The home has some fine architectural details, and in the garden y…
Museum in Kumamoto

Shimada Museum of Art

Through the winding backstreets south of Honmyō-ji (about 20 minutes on foot), this quiet museum displays the calligraphy and scrolls of Miyamoto Musashi (1584–1645), samurai, artist and strategist. Current artists'…
Historic Building in Kumamoto

Lafcadio Hearn's House

Irish-Greek immigrant Lafcadio Hearn (aka Koizumi Yakumo; 1850–1904) became one of the foremost interpreters of Japanese culture to the outside world. He lived in town from 1891 to 1894, in this house dating from 18…
Castle in Kumamoto

Honmaru Palace

The 2008 reconstruction of the Honmaru Palace (Honmaru Goten) fairly gleams with fresh wood and gold leaf paintings, particularly in the Sho-kun-no-ma receiving room. Unfortunately, this building was closed at the t…
Notable Building in Kumamoto

Former Hosokawa Gyōbutei

Northwest of the castle, down paths of immaculately raked gravel, is the large villa and garden built for the Hosokawa clan. Inside are displays of furniture and art pieces. This building was closed at the time of w…
Gallery in Kumamoto

Chibajo Annexe

The Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art's postmodern Chibajo Annexe was built in 1992 by the Spanish architects Elias Torres and José Antonio Martínez-Lapeña as part of the Artpolis urban reconstruction project, and …