Summer Days Out in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Apr 20, 2023

Summer Days Out in Kumamoto

Located in the center of the southern Kyushu island of Japan, Kumamoto is known for its gorgeous scenery. There is certainly no shortage of fantastic days out during the summer months here, from picturesque hikes to relaxing boat trips to festival fun. Much has been written about famed attractions such as Mount Aso, Kumamoto Castle, and Suizenji Gardens. Here is a small selection of a few other less obvious summer days out in Kumamoto.

Kurokawa Onsen

One of Japan’s most attractive hot spring towns, Kurokawa Onsen, sits within the Kuju mountain range about 20 km north of Mount Aso. The town has been well-preserved for the last 300 years, with a river flowing through the valley and ancient streets lined with wooden buildings, ryokan (inns), bathhouses, shrines, and bridges. Kurokawa is known for its luscious outdoor baths (rotenburo). If you buy a wooden pass for 1,300 yen, you can slip on a robe and sandals and enter three of the baths. If you want to turn your day into an overnight stay, plenty of accommodation is available.


Dolphin Watching in Amakusa

Swimming with dolphins is something on many people’s bucket lists. Boating alongside dolphins surely has to be the next best thing! You can do this if you head out to Futae port and hop on a boat cruise around the Hayasaki Strait between the Shimabara peninsula and Amakusa Shimoshima island. Around 200 bottlenose dolphins thrive in the waters and frequently swim alongside the boats, jump, and get fed by boat staff. Several companies operate boat trips costing approximately 2,500 yen for one hour. You can also visit Amakusa and enjoy some fantastic seafood on offer.

Address: 4689-20 Itsuwamachi Futae, Amakusa, Kumamoto 863-2421

Takachiho Gorge

This spectacular narrow chasm between two walls of rock on the Gokase River is perfect if you feel like getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few hours. It’s a bit further afield, technically part of the neighboring Miyazaki prefecture, but it’s close enough to Kumamoto for a thrilling day trip. The gorge is just outside Takachiho town center, and you can enjoy it in a rowing boat, where you can take in the beautiful, weird rock formations, or walk on the cliff faces above. Sadly there are no swimming areas. One of the highlights is the 17-meter-high Minainotaki waterfall. There is also a nearby shrine which you can visit if you have time.

Address: Mukoyama, Takachiho, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki 882-1103

Kamashikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

The most memorable thing about this sacred Shinto shrine is its location. It’s buried deep within the forests of Takamori, a small town that sits at the foot of Mount Aso. To reach it, you must ascend 270 steps decorated with lanterns and pass through moss-covered torii gates. Built in 1722, the shrine honors Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, two kami believed to have created the Japanese islands. The shrine also contains the Ugetoiwa, a sacred rock with a 10-meter-wide wind hole. It is said that passing through the hole will help make your dreams come true.

Website: Kamashikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine (in Japanese)

Hinokuni Festival

The Hinokuni Festival, or Hinokuni Matsuri, is the main summer festival in Kumamoto City. It features a range of events across three days in early August, with food stalls, community entertainment, and a street parade where residents can dance to the local Otemoyan folk song. The festival takes place along the Shin Shigai shopping arcade. There is a firework display on the night before the street parade.

Website: (in Japanese)

TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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