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A Historic Former Castle Town on the Kuma River


This Kyushu gem features a steam train, shochu, hot springs, and boat cruises


If the idea of a 1,200-year-old shrine, hot springs, and a sparklingly clean river, plus a steam locomotive and some shochu (Kyushu’s favorite alcoholic drink) all sounds good, then definitely consider a visit to Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto.


The Kuma River is one of Japan’s fastest and cleanest rivers, running down from the Kyushu mountains before bringing life to Hitoyoshi’s culture and crafts. The river has been famous for centuries, particularly during the Edo period (1603-1867), when it became a major thoroughfare, carrying people, goods, and timber between Hitoyoshi and Yatsushiro. While trains took over the heavy cargo jobs, hand-rowed pleasure cruise boats regularly ply the waters today, with heated table seating available during the colder months.



Access: From Tokyo Haneda Airport, fly to Kumamoto Airport (about one hour 55 minutes). From the airport, take the bus to the Jietai Mae stop (about 20 minutes), then transfer to the bus for the Hiyoshi Interchange stop (about one hour 20 minutes) and either walk for about 20 minutes or take a taxi (about five minutes) to the boating center.



Rafting the Kuma River (Kumagawa Kudari)


333-1 Shimoshin-machi, Hitoyoshi-shi, Kumamoto-ken


Approx. 50 minutes or more




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