In Kumamoto City, take the Castle Loop Bus and drop by Kumamoto Castle
to take a look at how the castle managed to hold up against the major earthquake in April 2016. Buy some souvenirs and sample some local delights at Johsaien, a castle town complex located right next to Kumamoto Castle
Within walking distance from the castle, is the Former Hosokawa Residence, where a branch family of the Hosokawa Clan used to stay. This was the ruling clan of Kumamoto during the Edo era. It is a well-kept example of a high-class samurai mansion. Stay the night and sample some local delights of Kumamoto, such as ramen and horse meat sashimi.
The next day, make a trip to Kurokawa Onsen
, which is around 3 hours by direct bus, and enjoy the natural surroundings and healing waters. The traditional onsen town is picturesque at any time of the year. This is one of the few onsen towns which has a mixed outdoor bath by the river. Enjoy the hot spring in your hotel or try some of the public onsens in the town.
From Kurokawa Onsen
, take a trip to Mt Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. During summertime you can stay at a campsite at the foot the mountain, and give horse riding a try nearby at Kusasenrigahama. If you rent a car you can drive up near the crater, with a car park just a minute away from it. The Mt Aso Ropeway from the foot of the mountain is another access option. Back at Kurokawa Onsen
, take a direct bus back to Kumamoto City.