Great Summer Walks in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
May 24, 2022

Great Summer Walks in Kumamoto

On the mountainous island of Kyushu in Kumamoto Prefecture lies one of the best scenic areas of Japan. Kumamoto is blessed with beautiful forests, waterfalls, and smoking volcanoes. It’s even known to many as the “Land of fire.” Unsurprisingly, Kumamoto has a strong hiking culture. There are many venues suitable for a more casual stroll, too. Here is a short selection of some of the best locations for a wander.

Mount Aso

Just an hour east of Kumamoto city, Mount Aso is something of a hiker’s dream. It’s the largest active volcano in Japan and features one of the largest calderas in the world that spans 350 sq. km. In the center of this are five mountain peaks great for hiking. One of the most popular is the Mt. Nakadake-Mt. Takadake loop is a 10 km trek taking in the highest peak at Aso, where you can see stunning views of the city and craters that go 130 m deep. This particular hike takes around three hours. You can also find a range of activities, including horseback riding.

Website: Aso Geopark

Kumamoto Castle

This hilltop castle close to the city center was originally built in 1607 and is considered one of Japan’s most historically important castles. A trail takes in the castle grounds stretching out for just over 4 km and is suitable for those looking for a leisurely stroll that takes a little over an hour. You can wander through the castle gardens and enjoy the panoramic city views with the spectacular Mount Aso visible in the distance. It’s also worth checking out the beautiful Honmaro Goten Palace within the grounds.

Kumamoto Castle was rebuilt in 1960 but was severely damaged during a 2016 earthquake and only recently reopened after repairs.

Website: Kumamoto Castle

Suizenji Jojuen Garden

This garden is another perfect summer stroll suitable for all ages and abilities. The tranquil gardens and buildings were originally built in 1637 by the first lord of Kumamoto. You need to pay around 400 yen to enter, but once inside can traverse the 6600 sq. meter park, complete with a pond, two shrines, and the Yabusame ancient archery course. If you want to make more of a trek of things, you can follow the pond trail along route 103 to the eye-catching Ezu Lake, a 2.5 km walk route.

Website: Suizenji Jojuen Garden

Kikuchi Gorge

Kikuchi Gorge is a nature reserve about an hour from Kumamoto city, one of Japan’s top 44 forest bathing sites. Its translucent blue valley waters and phytoncide-infused air carry the reputation of boosting health and well-being. There are two walking routes here – a 30-minute and a 60-minute loop, neither of which require professional hiking equipment and can be completed as long as you don’t mind a few steep inclines and rocky paths. The walks take you alongside the river and past several waterfalls. If you want to make a day of it, you can combine it with a trip to Kikuchi Castle or the town’s onsen.

Address: 5026 Haru, Kikuchi 861-1441

Igorberger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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