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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is made up of about three different parts:
- The Josaien Kumamoto Castle Shops
- The Kumamoto Castle Museum Wakuwakuza
- The Tourist Information Office
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.