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An Introduction to Kumamoto

The video ‘Kumamoto Tourism Promotional Video,’ created by ‘Bud Vision Movie,’ promotes the local attractions of Kumamoto.
Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県, Kumamoto-ken), is located on the west coast of Japan's Kyushu region. There exist quite a number of marvelous sceneries in Kumamoto, very different from the urban image of Japan.

Abundant nature, history and traditions, and hot springs. Sit back, relax, and enjoy an introduction to Kumamoto. Be sure to follow along with the video as well!

The Land of Fire ‘Mt. Aso (阿蘇山, Aso-san)’

Image of Mt. Aso
Photo:Mt. Aso

We'll begin with an introduction the ‘Active Volcano: Mt. Aso’ and the ‘Great Nature of Aso,’ both symbols of Kumamoto.
Aso is a famous place to drive around in. The great mountain and vast fields will engulf you!
It's also very photogenic and makes for great Instagram photos!
The endless, never-ending trail forges a path to another world, hidden above the clouds.
Check out the video at 0:29 to see this.

Kikuchi Valley (菊池渓谷, Kikuchi-keikoku)’ and ‘Nabegataki Falls (鍋ヶ滝, Nabe-ga-taki), both located at the foot of Mt. Aso, are popular tourist destinations in the mysterious wilderness.
The water is crystal clear, as can only be found in Kumamoto Prefecture, a place with an abundance of pure, natural water.

Kumamoto is referred to as the ‘Treasure House of Water’ or ‘Home of Water’ due to its abundance of springs.
Tsujun Bridge (通潤橋, Tsujun-Kyo), Shirakawa Spring (白川水源, Shirakawa-Suigen), Goro Waterfall (五老ヶ滝, Goro-ga-Taki), Kuma River (球磨川, Kuma-Gawa) Punting, Kuma River Rafting, Amakusa Five-Bridges (天草五橋, Amakusa Go-Kyo) and dolphin watching are all water-related tourist attractions in Kumamoto.
Several springs and streams have been listed in the ‘Top 100 Waters of Showa/Heisei,’ and each and every one of them weaves beautifully through the natural landscape in harmony with nature.

Kumamoto Castle (熊本城, Kumamoto-Jo), a Symbol of Kumamoto Prefecture and One of the Three Famous Castles of Japan

Image of Kumamoto Castle
Photo:Kumamoto Castle

One place you cannot miss in Kumamoto is Kumamoto Castle, tormented by the Kumamoto Earthquake in 2016.
It's about 50 minutes from Kumamoto Airport by limousine bus.
Kumamoto Castle has been watching over and protecting Kumamoto for over 400 years and it is a heartfelt symbol of its people.

Kumamoto Castle has been designated as Important Cultural Property along with ‘Aso Shrine (阿蘇神社, Aso Jinja)’.
Aso Shrine has around 450 subsidiaries across the nation, but the main temple is located in Kumamoto.

Another must-see destination for history buffs is the Sakitsu Village in Amakusa. It was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2018 as part of the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region.
Sakitsu Church (崎津天主堂, Sakitsu Tenshu-Do), located at the center of the village, is a must-visit.
It's introduced at 2:42 in the video.
Equally impressive is the Oe Church (大江天主堂, Oe Tenshu-Do).

Festivals in Kumamoto

In Kumamoto, several festivals from ancient times still persist.
One of such festivals is Yamaga Toro Festival (山鹿灯籠まつり, Yamaga Toro Matsuri) held in summer every year in Yamaga City (山鹿市, Yamaga-Shi), Kumamoto Prefecture.
‘Toro Odori (灯籠踊り)’ passed down from one generation to the next, is an all-night traditional event.

The ‘Fire Festival (火の国まつり, Hi-no-Kuni Matsuri, lit. Festival of the Country of Fire),’ is held at the start of August in Kumamoto City (熊本市, Kumamoto-Shi), Kumamoto Prefecture.
The large-scale festival surrounds Kumamoto Castle, and features flower trams using streetcars and fireworks displays.
Other events, such as the Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine Autumn Festival (藤崎八旛宮秋季例大祭, Fujisaki Hachimangu Shuki Reidaisai) and the fireworks displays, also excite people.
These festivals are introduced at 3:06 in the video.

Local Cuisine in Kumamoto

Kumamoto cuisine, blessed with both rich oceans and mountains, is introduced at 2:57 in the video.
One of the charms of Kumamoto is that you can enjoy stuffing your face with both traditional and modern food culture such as Kuroge Wagyu Beef (黒毛和牛, Kuroge Wagyu), Kumamoto ramen, horse sashimi, Aka-Ushi Beef (あか牛, Aka-Ushi). (Go ahead and pig-out. No one's watching).

Summary of What to Expect in Kumamoto

On top of all the major tourist attractions, Kumamoto offers a relaxing respite in its hot springs.
The video introduces the Tsuetate Hot Springs (杖立温泉, Tsuetate Onsen) and the Kurokawa Hot Springs (黒川温泉, Kurokawa Onsen) from 2:22.
Also, don’t forget Kumamon, the nationally renowned mascot of Kumamoto!

Minami Aso Railway's trolley train, SL Hitoyoshi (南阿蘇鉄道トロッコ列車SL人吉, Minami-Aso-Tetsudo Torokko-Ressha SL Hitoyoshi), attracts many train enthusiasts as well.
Trekking, hiking, mountaineering, golf, and horse-riding, are just a few of the many experiences Kumamoto offers!

The ‘Country of Fire’ and ‘Home of Water,’ Kumamoto, is sure to have you coming back for more.
With its vast wilderness and historic cultural assets, it truly does feel like a land completely separate that of Japan.

【Official Website】Kumamoto Prefecture Tourism Website Motto, Mo-tto! Kumamotto.
https://kumamoto.guide/en/

Written By
Nov. 6, 2020
Japan
小林 達之(Tatsuyuki Kobayashi)
The Vast Wilderness of Kumamoto Prefecture, and Its Historic Cultural Assets, Will Have You Feeling Like You're on Another Planet. Sightseeing, Gourmet Food, and Festivals; It's a Place You've Gotta Visit at Least Once!
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