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A Historic Ex-Castle Town on the Kuma River


This Kyushu gem features a steam train, shochu, springs and more


Like the sound of a shrine 1200 years old, hot springs and a river worth writing home about? Plus a steam locomotive and shochu? Head for Hitoyoshi City in Kumamoto Prefecture, which ticks all the boxes.

The Kuma River, one of the top three fastest and cleanest anywhere in Japan, runs through the Kyushu mountains and breathes life into this hotbed of culture and craft.



The river earned its reputation over seven centuries, since midway through the Edo Period, when it became an active thoroughfare carrying people and timber between Hitoyoshi and Yatsushiro towns. Having bequeathed this role to the train, nowadays, it is best enjoyed on one of the regular pleasure cruise ships that ply these waters, including heated table seating at colder times of year.



Kumagawa Kudari






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