Private jet charter to Kumamoto
Kumamoto, the capital of the prefecture of the same name, is centred around a striking castle that’s considered one of Japan’s most beautiful. There are incredible landscapes both inside and out of the city, such as the pretty Suizenji Jojuen Gardens and the active volcano of Aso with its surrounding hot spring towns. Get a fast quote from Air Charter Service to charter a private jet to Kumamoto.
There’s no chance of spending any time in Kumamoto without witnessing its castle and seeing how the whole city revolves around it. The castle you see today is a 1970s reconstruction of the original structure, which stood from the early 17th Century until 1877 when the majority of the wooden buildings were burnt down during a siege. Just one turret survived the destruction caused by the rebel army led by Saigo Takamori; the inspiration for Hollywood blockbuster The Last Samurai. In 2016 a series of earthquakes struck the city, leading to several attractions – including the famous castle – subsequently closing for repair and renovations; however the castle’s beautiful outline still dominates the city skyline and you can see inside the grounds from a handful of places around the city wall.
Beyond the castle, notable attractions include the 17th-century Suizenji Jojuen Gardens, which are located a short distance from the heart of the city. Considered among the best gardens in Japan, they feature pretty spring-fed, carp-filled ponds crisscrossed by arched stone bridges; a thatched tea house that was once located in Kyoto’s Imperial Palace; and a miniature landscape that’s reminiscent of iconic Japanese peak Mount Fuji. There’s also a shrine dedicated to members of the Hosokawa clan ancestors.
Art enthusiasts can get their culture fix at the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, located a short walk from the castle walls in Ninomaru Park, which showcases ancient Japanese artwork as well as beautiful examples of calligraphy and crafts, European pieces and local archaeological finds. If modern art is more your thing, head to the Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto to the west of the castle, which houses visiting exhibits and a permanent collection including pieces by Yayoi Kusama and Marina Abramović.
Kumamoto boasts two shopping districts, Kamitori and Shimotori. The former is a covered arcade that’s more Parisian than Japanese in style. It sits off one of the city’s main streets, Densha-Dori, and is home to many shops along its 360-metre length. Shimotori is similar to Kamitori but a lot bigger and busier, with many bars and restaurants creating a lively nightlife scene. For a more traditional and locally-focused shopping experience, head to the Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre, where a wide selection of Japanese arts and crafts are sold. Browse wood carvings, porcelain pieces and fine examples of locally-made Higo inlay – carved iron filled with gold or silver.
After spending a day or two in the city, it’s worth exploring further afield. Start at the hillside Honmyo-ji Temple – the final resting place of Kato Kiyomasa, a powerful feudal lord who once lived in the city’s castle. After admiring views of the city and castle, continue on to the fascinating Reigando Cave near the temple of Uganzenji shrine, where the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote the famous Book of Five Rings in the mid-1600s. Travel up to the top of Mount Hanaoka for fantastic daytime vistas over to the Aso volcano or night-time views of the city. A bit further out at Mount Kinpo, you can enjoy views of Kumamoto to the east and Shimabara Bay and Nagasaki to the west. It takes a little more effort to reach – a drive or bus ride followed by a hike from the heart of the city – but it’s well worth it once you’ve reached the peak.
Travel in the opposite direction from the city and you’ll reach Mount Aso, one of the country’s most active volcanoes. When conditions allow (be sure to check before setting off), you can visit the collapsed caldera and see the gas-emitting crater of Mount Nakadake. The 4th-century Aso Shrine a popular sight and one of the oldest of its kind in Japan. It was damaged in the earthquakes, but remains open to the public as repairs are carried out. While in the area, be sure to spend a bit of time relaxing at the Aso Uchinomaki Onsen, where a handful of bathhouses are fed by an underground geothermal spring.