Kumamoto Sightseeing Update – After the Earthquakes

It’s now 6 months since the earthquake hit Kumamoto and life is back to normal for many of us. The rebuilding process is well underway. Though some sights, such as Kumamoto Castle will take years to fully restore Kumamoto, Aso, Kurokawa, Kuju and Takachiho still have plenty of sights worth visiting. Not one of our guests who has visited since the quakes has regretted the experience and most of them have said their tour was a highlight of their trip to Japan. When planning your visit please don’t worry that it will be a burden to the local people, in fact it will be a blessing as tourism is vital to Kumamoto’s economy. Also in terms of  safety, aftershocks are now very mild and infrequent and it has become clear through excavations of the fault line that major earthquakes only hit Kumamoto very, very rarely therefore I suspect Kumamoto is now one of the safest places in Japan to visit.

10% of all Explore Kumamoto tour proceeds will go towards helping the recovery of the Kumamoto and Aso region.

Helen @ Explore Kumamoto,  October 19th 2016

Explore Kumamoto Sightseeing Update

Aso

The first thing to know is that Aso is a huge area of which a small area has been affected, this means that though there are still some road closures, which makes getting around a bit trickier than usual, there is still a lot to see and enjoy and the stunning natural beauty of the region has not been affected. The second thing to know is that despite the eruption of early October visiting Aso is safe. The blessings of the volcano far outweighs the burdens, and the local people know that the Aso caldera was moulded and formed through hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity and numerous earthquakes so this is simply a new step in its evolution.

Read more about how the area has been affected in detail on the Aso Sightseeing post earthquakes update:

laputa road

Click here for a very useful map in English and Japanese of the Aso area and current road closures. (Thanks to the Kuma Visit website)

Kikuchi ValleyKikuchi Gorge suffered from landslides and is closed until spring 2017. The stretch of road between Kikushi Gorge and Aso is also still closed.

 

 

 

kumamoto castle post earthquakesThe restoration of Kumamoto Castle will take years, however parts of the castle grounds have recently been reopened and the priority is to make the area safe so that visitors can still enjoy the castle and also watch the restoration work in progress. You can also view the castle from a viewing platform in Kumamoto City Hall.

Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens are also still closed.

 

 

Takachiho GorgeTakachiho Gorge has one small section of the gorge path which is closed and the rowing course is slightly shorter than usual but apart from that it is as normal and as beautiful as ever. Getting there from Kumamoto takes around 30 minutes longer than usual due to the main road through Aso being closed.

 

 

 

kurokawa onsenKurokawa Onsen is pretty much business as usual, though one of the most popular onsen Kurokawa Sou is still closed, as is Ryokan Nanyoen. Check the Kurokawa Onsen Association daily updates page here before you visit to see what is available.

The Kyushu Sanko Odan Bus is still running only twice a day from Kumamoto to Kurokawa. Click here for the pdf timetable from Kumamoto to Beppu and back.

 

Here is a link from August 2016 from the Kumanago Website with a status list of other sights around the region. There are a couple it doesn’t mention: Tatsuda Nature Park is open and admission is free this is because there is very little you can see as many stone monuments were damaged and much of the park is cordoned off.  Reigando Cave is undamaged.

Currently rail travel through the Aso area between Higo Ozu Station and Aso Station is unavailable though there is a bus connection service, see the Aso update page for details. If you need help finding alternative transportation through the Aso area please contact us.

Find out more about the earthquakes and situation 6 months after the quakes by watching this 30 min documentary on the Quake Recovery Process by NHK World.