The first steps to Shirakawa Suigen, or the fountainhead of the Shira River, start in an uninspiring parking lot in equally uninspiring surroundings. But after you walk under the stone torii gate you soon find yourself in the middle of a forest with birds chirping and quick stream running alongside the path.
A short walk takes you to the source of the stream, the Shirakawa fountainhead. Here, the surprising amount of water (60 tons per minute, they say) gushes out of the ground forming a pond. The pond becomes a creek, the creek later becomes the Shirakawa that runs through central Kumamoto City.
There’s an area where you can fill up your bottles, a souvenir shop and also a shrine nearby, called Shirakawa Yoshimi.
The visit to Shirakawa Suigen probably won’t take more than 30 minutes, but it makes for a nice quick stop in the Minami Aso area. This time I drove, but it’s easily accessible by public transit.
A short walk from Minamiaso Shirakawasuigen Station on the Takamori railway line.