Smoke on the water
Between the smoking crater of Mount Aso in the east and the isolated islands of Amakusa in the west, Kumamoto has plenty to keep you enthralled.
Kumamoto Prefecture’s diverse attractions are best explored with a car. From hiking around active volcanic peaks to relaxing at traditional baths at Kurokawa Onsen, there remains much to be explored in the prefecture, which boasts some of the best waters in Japan for immune-boosting “forest bathing.”
As the prefectural capital, Kumamoto City acts as an excellent base for exploring the region.
Start your adventure with a visit to Kumamoto Castle; its vast grounds are also a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in spring. The castle was closed after being badly damaged during a 2016 earthquake but will reopen by the end of April 2021.
An hour to the east from Kumamoto city, Mount Aso is the largest active caldera globally, spanning over 100 kilometers with rural villages and rice fields in between. Eruptions are fairly regular, but you can climb to the peak and peer into the smoking crater when conditions are safe. Check the volcanic updates before you go!
Kurokawa Onsen is a picturesque hot spring town packed full of traditional ryokan (inns) with private baths as well as outdoor public baths that you can tour with a discounted pass.
Kikuchi Valley is famous as one of Japan’s 44 “forest bathing” sites reputed to have healing powers. Whatever the health benefits, both settings are like something out of a dream.
Start planning your trip to Kumamoto with the locations below.