The enigmatic Kumamoto Castle. Some walls were damaged by the earthquake, the castle itself was largely okay.

Nickname: Gingko Castle ==> because it is next to a gigantic Gingko Tree

Tale of the gigantic gingko tree… When Lord Kiyomasa Kato, the guy who commissioned Kumamoto Castle, was at his death bed, he predicted that when the gingko tree grew to as tall as the castle, there would be a havoc that set loose. He passed away in 1611. The tiny gingko grew to gigantic height… Seinan war 1877


Special interests:

The official castle tour was run by a group of actors fully dressed in armor / traditional Japanese fashion – Omotenashi Samurai Team. Seriously, they’re dressed like the historical people who used to live in Kumamoto castle or had some strong links to it. For more information – **Japanese only. The tour was free of charge (well, no additional on top of the castle entrance fees) The tour was about an hour long.

Photos of the potential tour guide… their official website photos just look so much cooler.

The tour guides were EXTREMELY knowledgeable and the amount of vocab that was needed to fully appreciate the tour was madness. For starters, all those different warlords names and various historical war names?


Near the castle, there was a Cherry Blossom Street, Josaien Sakura-no-kohji, think TONS of souvenir shops, food and tourism stores. Lots of kumamon products. He was EVERYWHERE. I mean like soy sauce, cup noodles, alcohol, toilet paper, bags, sanitary towels… Did you know that a Japanese mascot is a real full time job? Kumamon has its own office and TV channel. Here is the official site link if you’re curious – Kumamon Square. You can actually meet with Kumamon at his office. Check his office hours before visiting.

The Wakuwaku Za (historical culture experience facility), the name roughly translate to ‘excitement house’, was very interesting and I highly recommend it. Very difficult for photography, the lighting was very awkward? The museum had lots of ‘experience’ offering. E.g. dress up in armor, carriage ride, old time castle streets, virtual reality, 1600s Kumamoto meal… etc Due to the terrible lighting, I looked like I was filming The Ring. To save you from my accidental horror photos, I choose not to post those photos.


How to get here?

Kumamoto Castle – official site

Entrance fees: JPY500 / adult

Closest JR station Kami-Kumamoto

Walked there and it was like 15min-ish.


There’s a special ‘cruise bus’ – Shiromegurin. It covers a lot of nearby tourism points. Pretty convenient. The bus starts from Kumamoto Station & the day pass tickets comes with discount admission to several facilities.

Single fare JPY 150, One day pass JPY400

**free for SunQ bus pass holders.


Personally, I like to do everything on foot if it is within 30min distance.


Special note:

Please donate to Kumamoto Castle funds if you have the means; this link is the official Kumamoto castle home page, do not donate to random sites. Kumamoto castle, although not a complete 1600s original, is a breathtaking master piece of history. The stone wall that was breached was an original… (sad) 400 years old.


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Salut, I am Joyce. 30 something living in Paris. Appreciate little things and share giggles. Prudent, no nonsense reviews. #ExploreLaughRepeat


  1. I’m not sure about slow. We had a week in Tokyo at the beginning and another week at the end of the holiday then used a 28 day rail pass to go Sendai, Yamagata, Yamadera, Niiagata, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Yanagawa, Nobioka, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Fuji, National Park. My wife had been before and was returning to show me.

    • That sounded like an amazing trip. That itinerary was intense. Okok, maybe not slow lol 😀 28 days!!! Like a dream ????????????

  2. Sorry Joyce, I had the last letters wrong. Slow train ride!!!!!! We left Kumamoto at about 10.00am and crossed the island in fog/rain. At one point Mt ASo was smoking to our left or so I believe. Twice the train reversed up zig/zags. We arrived in Nobioka at about 9.00 pm and a policeman escorted us to our booked Ryokan where dinner was waiting. Not a photo of the day, not even the crowded sweaty carriage, this was Golden Week and we 2 Geijin had huge suitcases. First time in Japan and learnt a lot.

    • Wow!! You have my respect, Denis! One intrepid traveller you are! First trip and going slow already. Very impressed! Sounds like quite the tale 😀

  3. Sadly we changed trains at Oito then went straight through 2 days later. Nobioko was interesting though with the ruins of an ancient castle on top of a hill looking way down the coast.

    • Hang on, you mean Nobeoka in Miyazaki, so you changed train at Oita? That’s a slow ride, I like that 😀

  4. Thanks for sharing this post, As usual a wonderful collection of images and story Joyce. I regret not seeing Kumamoto Castle by staying there on a whirlwind visit to Kyushu. We got off a train from Yanagawa at Kumamoto station to catch another one over the island to Oito and on to Nobioka all in one day. That was my experience of Kumamoto.

    • Thank you for the support, Denis. Oito must have been amazing!!!! I have never been there before. Have you uploaded any photos? Each path leads to a different journey 😉

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