Located on Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan, Kumamoto is most famous for its castle, which is one of Japan’s most impressive, awe inspiring castles. Despite being a modern reconstruction of the original castle, Kumamoto Castle is worth a visit. In addition to the two main towers of the castle, there is a number of turrets and storehouses that can be entered and explored. The stone walls and moat are an impressive feat of engineering, and the Honmaru Goten Palace building was built using traditional methods and materials to celebrate the castle’s 400th anniversary.
Also in Kumamoto is Suizenji Garden, a landscaped garden designed to replicate the Tokaido, which was the main road connecting Kyoto to ancient Edo (Tokyo) in the Edo period. The garden even contains a miniature recreation of Mt Fuji! Finally, there is a small museum dedicated to the author Lufcadio Hearn, located in his former residence. Hearn was an Irish author who settled in Japan, and was the first Western author to write books about Japan, including Japanese ghost stories! He even adopted a Japanese name: Koizumi Yakumo. Just a short hop from Kumamoto is Mt Aso, where you can see the mountain’s gigantic volcanic caldera.