Get ready to climb outside your comfort zone.
- The Mount Aso Ropeway and hiking trails are closed due to eruption warnings and the area within 1 km of the crater is currently off-limits. Check the official website for live updates: http://www.aso.ne.jp/~volcano/info/
In March 2015, Kumamoto won the right to host two 2019 Rugby World Cup games. Unfortunately, the region was devastated by the 2016 earthquake, which killed over 250 people and left almost 25,000 homeless.
The stadium set to host the RWC became a distribution center for relief supplies with Japanese rugby players Kensuke Hatakeyama and Ayumu Goromaru visiting with displaced residents.
Thanks to widespread rescue and restoration efforts, the area is now thriving again!
Kumamoto Stadium — also called the Egao Kenko Stadium — is located within a large sporting complex with several baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and running tracks.
Its most often used for soccer, being home to the Rosso Kumamoto soccer team — but has hosted a number of Top League rugby matches.
Surrounded by abundant forestry, the stadium boasts incredible mountain views if you’re lucky enough to get a seat on the west side of the venue.
What to do before or after the Rugby World Cup
Kumamoto Castle Autumn Festival
Though Kumamoto Castle was badly damaged in the 2016 earthquake, it remains the heart of the city. The castle’s autumn festival combines explosive Japanese drum performances, martial arts demonstrations, and traditional theater in a week-long celebration.
- Oct. 5 to Oct. 14
- 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- 2-1 Ninomaru Square, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto 860-0008 - Map
What to eat
Red Wagyu Beef
Delicious marbled beef from free-grazing cows on nearby Mount Aso.
The restaurant serves a wide range of scrumptious beef cuts with an all-you-can-drink option for an additional ¥2000. Go for the beef tongue — you won’t regret it.
- Hours: 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- 4F, 6-4, Shinshigai, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto - Map
Wagyu too traditional? How about slices of raw horse meat instead?
Suganoya Kamidori serves beautifully-presented cuts of tender horse sashimi. Give it a go! The taste is something you won’t soon forget.
- Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; until 10 p.m. on Sunday
- Address: 2F, 2−12 Jotomachi, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto - Map
Sightseeing around Kumamoto
See a stunning mountain view with billowing smoke below as you ride the ropeway up Japan’s biggest active volcano. Try your hand at horseback riding or get as close as possible to the volcano’s crater if you dare. Do remember to check the Aso website to see whether the volcano is safe and accessible on the day you want to visit.
- Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during October
- Cable Car: ¥750 one way, ¥1200 return for adults; half-price for children
- Asosannishi Station, Kurokawa, Aso, Kumamoto - Map
- Getting there: You can catch either the Yamabiko or Kyushu Odan service from Kumamoto Station to Aso Station. Yamabiko busses operate once every one to three hours, while Kyushu Odan busses operate only twice a day.
- Cost: ¥400 for adults, ¥200 for children
- Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. March to Oct.; 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. to Feb.
- 8-1, Suizenji Koen, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto - Map
How to get there
- Catch the shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Osaka station to Kumamoto Station. For the stadium, take the Hohi line to Tokaigakuen-Mae Station and then transfer to a local bus.
- It's only an hour and ten minutes from Osaka International Airport to Kumamoto Airport.
- You can fly to Kumamoto Airport in just under two hours.