Kumamoto Castle is a major symbol that summarizes all the beauty and warmth of Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu Island. Kumamoto is a city that can be reached in only 2 hours by land from Fukuoka. Although Kumamoto is not a metropolis city like Osaka and other cities of the Kansai region, it makes up with warmth and stunning natural beauty. Kumamoto Castle is one of those attractions. The building was established hundreds of years ago but has never lost its charm and still looks chic in all seasons. Although spring is regarded as the most beautiful season in Japan, visiting this place in the summer is no less beautiful and captivating.
Beautiful or captivating indeed, every summer, the lantern festival is held in Shirakawa River which runs right next to the Kumamoto Castle. There is also Street Art-Plex Kumamoto Festival, which is a festival of music and foods typical of Kyushu. Usually these festivals are held on weekends. In July and August, Kyushu and Kumamoto precisely, are always hit by typhoons. At times like this, a lot of visitors like to capture the stormy sights around Kumamoto Castle.
Kumamoto Castle not only makes for a stunning background image, but also offers a lot about the history of Japan and the complete history of Kumamoto Prefecture through its landscape, ancient relics, as well as literary heritage stored neatly inside the castle. Kumamoto castle is filled with many local people who graciously become tour guides with qualified English language ability, and they are ready to explain in details the history of Japan and Kumamoto Prefecture. Kumamoto Castle complex is adjacent to the Shirakawa River, a river that is sacred in the city of Kumamoto.
The area of Kumamoto Castle also includes Sakura No Baba, namely a shopping area for souvenirs and a museum where visitors can try on a yukata (a light kimono) and kimono for free. Prices for souvenirs at Sakura No Baba are relatively affordable compared to the Kansai region and Tokyo. You'll find here the very famous matcha (Japanese Green tea) store, where visitors usually buy it as souvenir. One pack of matcha 300 grams cost around ¥ 1,000.
To reach Kumamoto Castle is easy as it is only a 15-20 minute walk from the riverside area or Shimotori and Kamitori. The entry price to Kumamoto Castle is quite affordable at only ¥ 500 for adults and ¥ 200 for children, students and seniors. From March to November, Kumamoto Castle is open from 8.30 until 17:30. From December to February, it's open from 8.30 until 16:30.
Summer temperature in Kumamoto Prefecture is quite overpowering, it's very hot and humid so it is advisable to carry an umbrella or a hat, and drink enough. But don't worry, in Kumamoto Castle there are many vending machines and also water fountains. By the way it's considered obligatory to visit Kumamoto Castle if invited by the locals. Happy exploring!