Top ChoiceCastle in Kumamoto



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...

Top ChoiceGardens in Kumamoto


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...

Museum in Kumamoto


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...

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....

Buddhist Temple in Kumamoto


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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 for the outside world. He lived in Kumamoto from 1891 to 1894, in this house dating...

Castle in Kumamoto

Honmaru Palace

The 2008 reconstruction of the Honmaru Palace fairly gleams with fresh wood and gold-leaf paintings, particularly in the Sho-kun-no-ma receiving room. Unfortunately, the building was closed at research time due...

Museum in Kumamoto

Treasure House

Exhibits in this museum include the crown and other personal items of daimyō Katō Kiyomasa. The museum was closed at the time of writing due to earthquake damage.

Museum in Kumamoto


The castle's soaring black Tenshūkaku (main building, 29.5m tall) is today a historical museum with 6th-storey lookouts. The tower was closed at the time of writing due to earthquake damage and was scheduled to...