By Jaime Wong
There are plenty of things to do in Kumamoto Prefecture but JR Kyushu Kumamoto Station is a great place to start your adventure. Established in 1891, the station now reaches the height of modernity with the new Kyushu Shinkansen bringing in travelers with style from Hakata Station in Fukuoka or Kagoshima Chuo Station in less than an hour. There are also two other express and local JR lines that stop at the station, the Kagoshima Line and the Houhi Line. What’s so convenient about this is that you can basically get from Kumamoto Station to anywhere in Kumamoto Prefecture, like Aso-Kuju National Park or Kikuchi Gorge, or even to destinations throughout the island of Kyushu. The Kagoshima Line extends north and south and the Houhi Line runs across the central part of the island all the way to Oita Station on the east coast.
Right in front of the station is a stop for the Kumamoto City streetcar. This pleasant tram will take you along the city streets to most of Kumamoto’s top attractions, including Kumamoto Castle, Hosokawa Gyoubutei Mansion, Suizenji Garden, and the Kumamoto Shimo-tori and Kami-tori shopping districts. The station is about three kilometers from the centrally located castle and shopping arcades. City busses are also available, but the streetcar is the most fun to ride.
The station itself is pretty big but it’s still pretty easy to navigate. All the local lines are located on the first floor and the bullet train is positioned on the top floor. All the signs have English equivalents like you would expect from a large station. There is a major bus terminal attached to the station, giving you additional travel options. Surrounding the station are a number of hotels and Kitaoka Park can be found a short walk north along the tracks. You’ll also notice the Tsuboi and Shirakawa Rivers flowing just a stone’s throw along the main street extending from the main entrance.
Inside the station is very simple and clean, but there are a few restaurants available. They have a Yoshinoya, Maruuma Ramen Shop, and Hungry Tiger Curry Shop with some other vending shops and restaurants. According to the website Tabelog, the curry shop is quite popular and has good reviews. A good-sized 100 yen shop is also here. You can also do your entire souvenir shopping in the station if you’re pressed for time.
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