Top choice 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 Tokyo and Kyoto). The miniature Mt Fuji is instantly recognisable, though much of the rest of the analogy is often lost in translation. Still, it's a lovely walk through groves of palms and hydrangeas and to a large Shintō shrine.

During the 2016 earthquakes the garden's pond drained and groundskeepers hand-carried the many carp to safety tanks, replacing them after the pond refilled.

A 'yukata experience' offers visitors the chance to dress in period costume and take a photo for ¥2596, including park admission.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Kumamoto attractions

1. Lafcadio Hearn's House

1.55 MILES

Irish-Greek immigrant Lafcadio Hearn (aka Koizumi Yakumo; 1850–1904) became one of the foremost interpreters of Japanese culture for the outside world. He…

3. Kumamoto-jō

1.94 MILES

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…

4. Honmaru Palace

1.97 MILES

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…

5. Tenshūkaku

1.98 MILES

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…

6. Sōseki Memorial Hall

1.99 MILES

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…

8. Wakuwaku-za

2.01 MILES

This family-friendly museum presents the history of Kumamoto and the castle from many angles, from the 10-minute video with English subtitles explaining…