There are peaks and troughs to tour in this prefecture on Kyushu
Rugby World Cup 2019 Travel Guide: Kumamoto
Mount Aso is about an hour from Kumamoto and it’s easy to get there by car. Enjoy the view of the emerald-green crater of the active volcano, which is one of the largest calderas in the world (check its current state before travelling as it can be closed).
There are beautiful areas to explore nearby. Kusasenri is a prairie with a large pond and grazing horses, while the views atop Daikanbo Peak stretch far and wide. You can hike trails too.
Back in the city, Kumamoto Castle was damaged in the 2016 earthquakes, so you can’t enter the inner grounds but can admire the fortress from the outside.
Spend a relaxing day in Kurokawa, 20km north of Mount Aso. Located in a forest valley, you can meander down the narrow streets and visit different kinds of open-air baths. In Kumamoto, take a stroll around Suizenji Garden, which dates back to the 17th century, then head to the city centre to try craft beers and local bites.
Mustard lotus roots – the holes of slices of lotus root are filled with a mix of spicy mustard and miso, then deep fried – are a local speciality. Dagojiru is a local soup made with vegetables and dumplings – every restaurant will use different ingredients! – while Akaushi beef is the local breed that grazes on grassland and takana is a popular pickle.
WORLD CUP VISIT
Kumamoto Stadium (below) will host two World Cup games – France v Tonga in Pool C on Sunday 6 October and Wales v Uruguay in Pool D on Sunday 13 October – while there are other matches being played on the island of Kyushu in Fukuoka and Oita.
Related: Rugby World Cup venues
Kumamoto Airport is a 70-minute flight from Osaka and one hour 40 minutes by plane from Tokyo. Buses from the airport to the city take around 50 minutes. You can also get a bullet train from Osaka in three hours.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mount Aso, which is in the centre of Kyushu, is the largest active volcano in Japan and has five peaks – Neko, Taka, Naka, Eboshi and Kijima.
If you’re heading to Kurokawa, you can buy a wooden pass (tegata) for around £9 that allows you to go to the baths of three different ryokans.