How to Reach Kumamoto from Tokyo or Kansai

ByJustin Hanus
May 31, 2024

How to Reach Kumamoto from Tokyo or Kansai

Most visitors to Japan are aware of the top tourist destinations, such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other places in Kansai. However, there are interesting spots to see all over the country, including some that are less frequented by tourists. Visiting these places often gives you a more authentic Japanese experience and shows you more of the country and culture. One such destination is Kumamoto. It’s home to Mount Aso (the largest active volcano in the country), one of the three most famous castles, and a popular mascot called Kumamon. The good news is it’s easy to reach Kumamoto from Tokyo and several cities in Kansai.

Flying to Kumamoto

In Tokyo, there are flights to Kumamoto from both Haneda Airport and Narita Airport. The journey is only about one hour, 40 minutes from Haneda and two hours from Narita. There are inexpensive tickets from the low-cost airlines Solaseed Air and Jetstar.

To fly from Kansai, you’ll need to go to Itami Airport. There are airmail flights that take around one hour, 10 minutes.

Once you’re at Kumamoto Airport, you can reach downtown by taking a shuttle bus. This will take you to Kumamoto Sakuramachi Bus Terminal in 50 minutes or Kumamoto Station in an hour.

Taking the Train

There are several Shinkansen to Kumamoto from Tokyo, each of which takes around six hours. Be aware that the Japan Rail Pass only covers the Hikari and Sakura trains, which are slightly slower. For an extra fee, you can take the faster Nozomi or Mizuho trains.

To reach Kumamoto from Kansai, take the train from the Shin-Osaka Station. There’s a direct route that takes three hours, 20 minutes.

The train will take you to Kumamoto Station. From here, it’s best to take the tram if you want to reach the heart of the city, which is around two kilometers away — or a 10-minute tram ride. However, you’ll need to use the train if you want to visit places outside of downtown, such as Mount Aso, Suizenji Garden, and the hot springs resort in Beppu.

Taking a Bus

There are highway buses from Kumamoto from both Osaka and Kyoto — from Tennoji Station, Osaka Station, and Kyoto Station. The journey lasts around 10 to 12 hours, which makes it ideal if you want to travel overnight. There are various bus services to choose from, varying widely in terms of quality (and therefore price, although all are significantly cheaper than the train).

The Kumamoto Sakuramachi Bus Terminal also connects to tram lines, as well as to city buses. Figuring out how to use the tram and buses will be a great help for getting around Kumamoto and seeing all the top sights. In addition to tickets per ride, there are unlimited one-day passes for either the trams and buses or just the trams. These also offer discounts for entry to some of the main attractions in Kumamoto.

Now you know how to reach Kumamoto from Tokyo and Kansai, you have no excuse not to visit. With onsen, perfect places for hikes, and a fantastic reconstruction of the hilltop castle, it’s a great destination no matter your interests.

Si-take. at Japanese Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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