May 21, 2015


Kumamoto(熊本), located at the west of Kyushu(九州), is famous for Mount Aso(阿蘇山), and perhaps Kurokawa Onsen(黒川温泉)and Kumamoto Castle(熊本城).

During my 1st trip to the prefecture, I went to Kurokawa Onsen, after going to Beppu(別府)and Yufuin(湯布院). It was like an Onsen priority trip to check out the 3 big hot spring towns in northern Kyushu, to compare and find out for myself which is the best.

Kurokawa Onsen town has a more traditional feel, like Kusatsu(草津)or Arima Onsen(有馬). There are quite a number of hot spring ryokan congregated in the town full of slopes. A river runs through the town that is dotted with some public/foot baths, shops and cafes. The vibe is quite relaxing.

Stayed at Oku no Yu(奥の湯), an average costing ryokan 旅館 (16000 yen per night with 2 meals). Compared to the ryokan I stayed at Yufuin which I paid about the same price but it came with private rotenburo(露天風呂), this seems less value for money, though it has a few types of onsen and the dinner served in the room was really delicious. Tried raw horse meat(馬刺し), specialty of the area.

From Kurokawa Onsen, we took JR Aso Yufu Kogen bus to Aso station. It is more expensive than Kyushu Odan bus, but we chose it as the timing was more suitable. There was a guide on the bus that introduced the places we passed by.

In this trip, we didn't explore Aso area, but chose to head to Kumamoto City via train from Aso, to check out Kumamoto Castle. Took a tram from Kumamoto station to the castle.

Kumamoto Castle is a large rebuilt castle with 2 towers and a Honmaru Goten Palace. The interior of the main tower is a museum with exhibits about the castle's history. The Uto Turret is one of the few original structures that wasn't destroyed. There is also an underground passageway that links the palace building and a former residence of the Hosokawa clan, another attraction nearby.

My next trip to Kumamoto was for Aso. Mount Aso is a large active volcano with one of the biggest caldera in the world. It can be reached by a direct bus from Aso station, then transfer to a ropeway up to the crater. When I went there, was lucky that volcanic activity wasn't too high, so nothing was closed off.

Also went to Kusasenri-ga-hama(草千里ヶ浜)which was on the way. Horse riding can be done from around March to December. It was quite enjoyable and relaxing to ride on the horses and walk around the vast grass plains.


Post a Comment