Top things to do in Kumamoto

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 Bar in Kumamoto

Good Time Charlie

Charlie Nagatani is a living legend, the 'Johnny Cash of Japan', the founding figure behind the nation's entire country-music scene, and an accomplished musician and songwriter. He earned the rank of Kentucky Colone…
Top Choice Cafe in Kumamoto

Andcoffeeroasters

Delightful boutique coffee shop with freshly roasted beans and a 'tart of the day', such as persimmon or Earl Grey. Coffee nerds will feel right at home with the rich lattes, creamy cappuccinos and other speciality …
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 …
Top Choice Izakaya in Kumamoto

Yokobachi

Yokobachi's leafy courtyard and open kitchen are distinctive. Although some menu translations are head-scratchers, stand-out small plates include spicy tebasaki (chicken wings), Caesar salad with fried gobo (burdock…
Top Choice Izakaya in Kumamoto

Kome no Kura

This black-walled, quietly chic izakaya (Japanese pub-eatery), with cosy private booths and hori-kotatsu (well in the floor for your feet) seating, has a whole menu of Kumamoto specialities along with standard fare.…
Top Choice Bar in Kumamoto

Vibes

Come to this cool new 'glocal' bar for an immersive experience in shōchū, Kyūshū's signature tipple. Owner and bartender Nori-san is something of a shōchū evangelist, and he's got 120 bottles on hand, so there's som…
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…
Japanese in Kumamoto

Katsuretsutei Shinshigai Honten

Come hungry to this busy local favorite for tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) in filling Zen set meals (with shredded cabbage, rice, miso soup, pickles and more). The signature dish is atsuage kurobuta pork (thickly sl…
Chinese in Kumamoto

Kōran-tei

On a lovely courtyard behind a Swiss pastry shop on Kamitōri Arcade, this glossy restaurant has a varied menu of Chinese dumplings and noodles, but pretty much everyone orders taipien (mild, bean-thread-noodle soup;…