Exploring Kumamoto City On The Japanese Island Of Kyushu

Kumamoto City is a city located in the Kumamoto Prefecture on the Island of Kyushu south of Japan’s mainland. Usually, when people think of a Japanese island, they think of Okinawa, but the Kyushu island has beautiful scenery and is the last island group before the jump to Okinawa. 

The home of many famous people in Japan from the legendary swordsmen, Musashi Miyamoto, to Eijiro Oda, the creator of One Piece, one of Japan’s more famous anime series, Kumamoto holds a rich history that is perfect for exploration.

Kumamoto City is truly special with features that you can only see there, keep reading to learn where you should explore on your next adventure to this beautiful region. 

Kumamoto City Skyline

Exploring the Castle in Kumamoto City

If you are going to explore Kumamoto City on the island of Kyushu, you should definitely explore Kumamoto Castle. 

Kumamoto Castle Official Website

Constructed in the years between 1601 and 1607, Kumamoto Castle is ranked within the top 3 best castles in Japan, which is no easy feat considering the amazing castles throughout the country. 

With 5.59 miles of walls on its perimeter, almost 50 turrets, and 47 turret gates, and smaller gates, this is one massive castle. 

The samurai Saigo Takamori, who is famous in Japan, led troops against the government who were stationed in the Kumamoto Castle at the time. In the Seinan Civil War, as it was called, of spring 1877, Saigo attacked the castle, which had just suffered a fire.

Even damaged, Kumamoto Castle was able to hold as Saigo led siege and the government’s troops fought for two months before Saigo had to retreat with the rest of his rebel forces. 

Kumamoto Castle Location Via Google Maps

View Over Kumamoto City From Kumamoto Castle

There is a general admission fee for this castle but it had been closed since April 2016 due to reconstruction after an earthquake. As of June 2021, some areas are opened to the public, but others remain closed for repairs and reconstruction. 

Some architects working on the project estimate that the full reconstruction of the castle will take close to 20 years to complete. 

The Suizenji Garden Recreates the Tokaido Road

If you have a chance to go and see the Suizenji Garden, you are in for a spectacular treat. This garden is not just a garden full of beautiful flowers, trees, walking bridges, and ponds, it is the recreation of the Tokaido Road. 

The Tokaido Road is famously known for being the connecting road from Edo, or modern-day Tokyo, to Kyoto during a period in Japanese history called the Edo Period.

Suizenji Garden Official Website

Lords, Ladies, Samurai, Ninja, Geisha, and Government officials all took the Tokaido Road to travel back and forth between the two cities, stopping at any one of the 53 stops along the way. 

In the Suizenji Garden, you can explore a smaller version of all 53 points of the Tokaido Road and learn about the vast history of Japan’s Edo Period. They even have a small Mount Fuji that you can explore. 

There is a small admission fee to get into the Suizenji Garden, but it is well worth the price to experience the vast and beautiful landscape. 

Discover the Amazing Statues of One Piece Characters in Kumamoto

Fans of the super famous Japanese anime, One Piece, may know that the creator, Eichiro Oda, was born and grew up in Kumamoto City. After the devastating earthquakes struck the city back in 2016, Oda donated a large sum of money to the city. 

In his honor, the city started a construction project, erecting some amazing statues of Oda’s most famous characters.

Starting with Monkey D. Luffy in 2018, and despite the delays in construction due to Covid-19, almost all of the characters have been revealed around the city.

  • Monkey D. Luffy is at the Kumamoto Prefectural Offices.
  • Vinsmoke Sanji is in a park near the Mashiki Gymnasium.
  • Usopp is in front of the Aso Station.
  • Tony Tony Chopper is in the plaza of Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
  • Brook is on the west side of Fureai Hiroba, also called Friendship Park.
  • Franky is by the Takamori Station located in Aso.
  • Nico Robin is in the Kumamoto Earthquake Memorial Museum in Minamiaso.
  • Nami is at Moe no Sato in Nishihara village. 

The Roronoa Zoro and Jinbe reveal dates have not been announced yet. They should be announced sometime soon.

The Shimada Museum of Art in Kumamoto City Holds 1000 Pieces of History

The Shimada Museum of Art in Kumamoto City has just over 1000 pieces of antique artwork and sculptures of Samurai dating back all the way to medieval times.

The founder of the museum and its namesake, Matomi Shimada, was a researcher and a historian who put his personal collection of swords and other weapons, calligraphic artwork, sculptures, armor, and even medieval furniture on display for all to explore and enjoy. 

Shimada Museum Of Art Official Website

In this museum, you can learn about one of Japan’s most famous and renowned swordsmen, Musashi Miyamoto, who migrated to Kumamoto by invitation of the Hosokawa Lords, the leaders of a powerful clan dating back even further than the Edo Periods. Miyamoto lived in Kumamoto for the rest of his life.

You will be able to see small replicas of the Kumamoto Castle and turrets as they originally were before the fire, the siege, and the earthquakes reduced parts of them to rubble. 

Relax and Explore Josaien for All of Your Shopping Needs

Josaien, or Sakuranobaba Josaien, is a popular tourist destination while visiting Kumamoto City. Located beside the Kumamoto Castle, you can enjoy local food shops, souvenir shops, shows, and even a museum. 

Sakuranobaba Josaien Shopping Area

Sakuranobaba Josaien is made up of about three different parts:

  • The Josaien Kumamoto Castle Shops
  • The Kumamoto Castle Museum Wakuwakuza
  • The Tourist Information Office

The Samurai, or Bunsho, the show is a treat to watch as you enjoy some of the delicious treats, snacks, and meals at the local shops.

They have a large variety of ice cream that is very popular with the tourists and are perfect after a day of castle exploration

As of the year 2021, the tourist office is still taking donations to help rebuild the castle after the 2016 earthquakes. Donating 10,000 Yen with gain you free access to the castle and other attractions in the area.

Kumamoto City Virtual Tour

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.