Kumamoto For The First Time


Kumamoto Prefecture to the south of Japan is most famous for Kumamoto Castle and Kumamon, the affable black bear mascot with rosy cheeks and adorably goofy antics. 

HISTORIC SITES

Unfortunately due to a major earthquake in April 2016, Kumamoto Castle - otherwise known as one of the most beautiful castles in Japan for its majestic black-walled exterior - suffered damage and public entry to its grounds is closed until further notice.
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Nevertheless, the fact that the main structure of the over 400-year-old castle managed to survive the quake is testament to the strong foundation and architectural skill applied to its design, and remains a breathtaking sight to be seen. 

The city aims to repair the main castle keep within three years, and to complete the entire restoration of the grounds within 20 years.

TRADITIONAL BEAUTY

Kumamoto City, the capital of the prefecture where the castle is located, is on the West coast of Kyushu. It is also home to Suizenji Gardens, considered one of the top four traditional Japanese gardens in the country.

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Located just a short tram ride southeast of the Kumamoto Castle, the some 400-year-old garden took 80 years to build under the orders of three feudal lords of the Hosokawa clan. The layout of the garden is meant to represent the 53 stations of the Tokaido highway from Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo), which explains the miniature Mt Fuji statue located in it. 

NATURAL WONDERS

Kumamoto Prefecture also boasts one of Japan’s most charming traditional hot spring towns, Kurokawa Onsen, and around 20km from there is Mt Aso, an active volcanic in the center of Kyushu. 

Take a walk back in time at Kurokawa Onsen with its lovely wooden ryokan hotel structures and bridges, and calm your senses with the gurgle of the river while soaking in an outdoor hot spring bath. Feudal lords also used to refresh and relax at this historic hot spring town.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dal_lu/8253018295

An eye-opening day trip from Kurokawa Onsen to Mt Aso is highly recommended, and this caldera will offer a stunning view, being one of the world’s largest with a circumference of over 100km. However, due to volcanic activity, a no-entry zone of 1km from the crater is applied and hiking trails to the crater are closed though the road is open up to the lower ropeway station.
Source: By Igorberger - 投稿者自身による作品, CC 表示-継承 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7696652


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