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 was built between 1636 and 1716 for the ruling Hosokawa clan. The main path represents the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō (the feudal road that linked Tokyo …
Museum in Kumamoto

Wakuwaku-za

This family-friendly museum presents the history of Kumamoto and the castle from many angles, from the 10-minute video with English subtitles explaining the castle's construction and history, through the Satsuma Reb…
Market in Kumamoto

Sakuranobaba Johsaien

This tourist complex at the foot of the castle grounds offers a one-stop opportunity to sample (and purchase) local foods, from fish cakes to tea to innovative sweets, at 23 stalls. It gets lots of tour buses. The W…
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's Chibajo branch, this large facility displays local Higo inlay, Yamaga lanterns, porcelain and woodcarvings, many for sale in the excellent museum shop (free entry). Sakuranobaba Joh…
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 Arts

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, strategist, and resident of Kum…
Notable Building in Kumamoto

Former Hosokawa Gyōbutei

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

Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art Chibajo Branch

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