Take a leisurely stroll through Kumamoto City's remarkable traditional Japanese garden, Suizenji Jojuen!【In cooperation with Kumamoto Prefecture Vol. 5】
When many people think of Kyushu, the first place that comes to mind is usually Fukuoka Prefecture, which connects Japan with the rest of Asia. However, only slightly to the south you'll find Kumamoto Prefecture, which is full of equally fascinating—albeit not as well known—sights. Breathtaking nature, historical buildings, scrumptious delicacies, and more! Through this series of 6 articles/videos we hope to show you all the wonders that await you in Kumamoto.
▼The video below will introduce you to some more of the wonders of Kumamoto City.If it’s taking too long to load, feel free to enjoy this article first as you wait!
Over 400 years ago, this spacious traditional Japanese garden was built by three successive Kumamoto feudal lords. It was landscaped around a natural spring pond which is filled with beautiful carp of a multitude of colours and sizes. Interestingly enough, the pond’s clear waters originate from Mt. Aso via underground currents. The garden, which features a hill that was modeled after Mt. Fuji, lush green lawns, pond rocks, pines trees, and more, is said to represent the lords’ image of the scenery along the Tokaido route (between Tokyo and Kyoto). It has something different to enjoy every season.
Address:8-1 Suizenji Koen, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto
Access:Get off at Suizenji Koen-Mae bus or train stop, and it’s a 5-minute walk
Hours:March to October 7:30-18:00 / November to February 8:30-17:00
Admission fee:Adults 400 yen Children（elementary / junior high school students）200 yen
Within the garden grounds you'll find Izumi Shrine; it was built 140 years ago in dedication to the ancestors of the Hosokawa clan, the feudal lords that built the garden. The shrine is said to bring luck in marriage, business, and good health. A drink from the pond’s clear waters, on the other hand, is said to bring a long, prosperous life. To this day, people still come from all over Japan in hopes of miraculously extending their lives.
As a gift to the Noh-loving deities enshrined in Izumi Shrine, a Noh theatre was built. On the first Saturday of every August, a special Noh performance is given next to a bonfire—the flames illuminating the show make for quite the spectacle. It is without a doubt that the traditions of Kumamoto continue to live on to this day.
The tea house, with its old-fashioned thatched roof, is one of the most popular sights on the grounds. Brought from Kyoto almost 100 years ago, it is now a place where visitors can enjoy traditionally-prepared matcha tea and sweets while looking out over the most beautiful view the garden has to offer. It’s the perfect place to take a short break.
【Matcha Tea Ceremony (sweets included)】
Fee:Tatami seating 650 yen, Outdoor seating 550 yen
▼Downtown Kumamoto City
After you exit the gardens, we suggest you check out the downtown area of Kumamoto City. By taking the City Tram you can get to the city center in a heartbeat. You'll find row upon row of popular local eateries in the Shimotori area, and history and culture in and around the Kamitori area. The two bustling areas, which span over about 1,100m, both have something different to offer and are well worth the visit.
Perhaps one of the best representatives of Kumamoto cuisine is basashi, or raw horse meat. The horses are raised free-range, resulting in fresh, high-quality meat. If you've never tried horse before, there's no need to be apprehensive; the highly nutritious, fat-speckled meat offers a unique texture that differs from beef, but is extremely satisfying.
Another local favourite we urge you to try is Kumamoto ramen. It features an unusual coloured broth (a mixture of tonkotsu, or pork bone, and chicken), garlic oil, and fried garlic among other tasty ingredients.
For dessert, we recommend horaku manju, a delicious pancake-like bun made on an iron mold filled with red or white bean paste. They're quite filling, so make sure you save some space!
Filled with sights to see and food like you won't find anywhere else, Kumamoto City is a great place to spend a few days. It's impossible to see everything the city has to offer in a single day, so make sure you allot enough time for it all!