Introduction: How to use this page
This page provides annotated links to English information about Kumamoto, Japan. There is a surprising amount of information about Kumamoto available on the Internet but much of it can only be found after expending considerable time and energy searching the web. This page is an attempt to organize that information so that it can be utilized more efficiently.
The page developed as a by-product of the Kumamoto International mailing list. Much of the information indexed here was first introduced on that list. There is also a great deal of information about Kumamoto (for example, information about restaurants, spas, community issues, etc.) that may be found on the searchable archives of this list but is not indexed here. In addition, inquiries about Kumamoto may be addressed to the list. Accordingly, I strongly encourage all persons interested in obtaining information about the Kumamoto area to subscribe to the list and/or to search the archives.
In putting this page together, I have attempted to included lists of places, hotels, events, etc. that are described on the sites I have linked. I have done this so that viewers can use the search function on their browsers ("control key" + "f" on Windows machines and "apple key" + "f" on Macintosh computers) to locate information more efficiently. For example, if you are looking for information about the Aso area, you can search this page for "Aso." This search will take you to several different sites that contain some information about the area.
I hope you find the page to be useful.
This page provides links to English information about five youth hostels in Kumamoto Prefecture and many others in Kyushu.
This page includes reviews from users. At this writing the top ranked place to stay is a Bed and Breakfast (minshuku) called Higoji. The review is intincing but unfortunately there's no contact information. Seaching the web, I found that the formal name is "Minshuku Higoji" and the phone number is 096-352-7860. Click here for the official web site (with English). Higoji is located near Hanaokayama (Mt. Hanaoka, north of Kumamoto Station (map). The web site says that it costs only 3,000 yen per night to stay there (without meals).
This page says that it allows you to "make a reservation at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) anywhere in Japan. " It has links to hot spring (onsen / spa) inns in Kurokawa and Aso. The site also provides a link to the Maruko Hotel in Kumamoto City.
You can either click on "Kumamoto" or click on the Kyushu area of the map on this page to look for hotels.
This site allows one to search for hotel throughout Japan (including, of course, Kumamoto) and to make reservations on line.
This site currently provides detailed information on one ryokan (Japanese style inn) in Tamana, in addition to ryokan in other parts of Japan. You can make reservations on the web.
This page provides information on one moderately priced hotel in the downtown area. The page says there is "Wireless LAN Access In Lobby."
Clicking the link show above will take you to a machine translation of a Japanese page about some capsule hotels in Kumamoto. There is quite a lot of information available, including comments by users and links to pictures of the facilities but the machine translations are rather hard to decipher. For example, for some reason the katakana "capsule hotel" is translated as "tube hotel". Click here to read an essay by a foreign visitor to a capsule hotel in Tokyo.
Double Decker sells imported English educational products and character goods. Their stock includes childrens' books, DVDs, CDs, teaching materials, stationery, bags etc. In addition, they operate a charity book exchange. For more information, click here and here.
The page began as a post to Kumamoto-i. I thought it deserved more exposure so I made it into a separate page.
Kumamoto University has "Kumamoto University News" in English on their site. Unfortunately, they don't use RSS so it's hard to follow their news.
In addition to pages put out previously by the Office of International Programs and the library, the university has added overall explanations of the various faculties and departments and a campus map.
To learn about a labor dispute that occurred between foreign faculty and the Prefectural University of Kumamoto click here.
"Kyushu Lutheran College was founded as a co-educational liberal arts institution in 1997. It seeks to continue the heritage of the seventy-five year old Kyushu Junior and Senior High Schools and Kyushu Jogakuin kindergarten, with whom it shares a campus."
"Jelly Bean English Pre School is in operation to accommodate preschool children between the ages of 4 - 6 years. All staff are experienced Early Childhood Educators."
According to the web page, "London Bridge was established in April 2000 by Jon and Michiyo Bennett. Having moved to Kumamoto from England, they were looking for a suitable school for their children. "
"A new style preschool that combines kindercare, conversation and playtime."
The number of events presented is limited but I think this may be the only English-langauge events page about Kumamoto that is properly maintained. Most other pages give out generic information but don't give you the details about what is actually happening this year. If you can read Japanese, click here to see more inclusive and detailed information.
This is a machine translation of "Goo Eiga".
This site is primarily in Japanese but includes English as well.
This large hall is the location of many major events.
This page supplies current information in English about expositions held at the museum.
This page is no longer being maintained. For information on more recent events please see the archive of the "Kumamoto International" mailing list.
If you click on "Events Information" you can obtain information about various classes and social events to be held at the International Center.
This page is part of Kumamoto City's site.
For detailed information about how to use this map, click here. Here's part of that explanation: "There are 77 different facilities altogether. The information was provided by the Kumamoto City Medical Association's website. . . . You can either search by sight, or scroll down the list of facilities at the left until you find the service you're looking for, then click on it and the map will take you there."
This detailed and useful page is put out by the Kumamoto Internationial Foundation.
This page allows you to search through a database containing information about the languages doctors speak and the medical specialities of those doctors. Unfortunately, the names of the doctors who speak those language are not given; only the language and speciality are named for each facility. Still, it is at this writing (September 2010) the most complete source of information about medical professionals in Kumamoto City who can communicate with patients in languages other than Japanese. The languages for which one may search are as follows: English, Tagalog, Portuguese, Russian, Cambodian, Korean, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish, German, and Laotian. Some of the languages, however, produce zero hits. This search engine is provided by the Kumamoto City Medical Association.
This page, which is put out by the U.S. Embassy, provides names, specialties, addresses and phone numbers of various English speaking physicians.
According to their web page, the Agency for Cooperation in International Health (ACIH) has been established with the endorsement of the Japanese Government to participate in international efforts to improve healthcare throughout the developing world. The national headquarters is in Kumamoto City.
This site functions as a Kumamoto dialect to English dictionary. All of the Japanese words are presented in Roman letters (romaji). Unfortunately, however, I could not find any example sentences and the English translations may be rather problematic.
This school seems to be the best place in town to study Japanese intensively.
Probably the best short list of links to Kumamoto-related pages. The sites are ranked through Google's patented PageRank technology.
A good short list of links to Kumamoto-related pages, all of which are in English.
In addition to links (some of which are to Japanese-language pages), this page provides some basic statistical information about the prefecture.
The analog-style clock you see above should show the correct time for Kumamoto. If you would like to double check, click the link shown above to see a page showing the local time in Kumamoto. If you would like to know the time in another part of the world (for example, in order to determine when to place an international telephone call), enter to country name or the name of a major city or state in the following form:
"Kumamoto International" is a forum through which foreign and Japanese persons can exchange information and ideas related to the Kumamoto area. To get a sense of the types and quality of information exchanged please have a look at the archives.
This group is for members of the international community in Kumamoto who have a passion for reading. As well as discussing books online, this forum can also be used to exchange, give away, buy and sell books and to organize reading group meetings in the Kumamoto area.
"A group for current JETs to exchange information about events, teaching materials, any ads, ... Former JETs are also welcome to participate to keep in touch with each other, and with what is happening in Kumamoto."
This page has links to several "WebBooks" (online pamplets). The Kyushu Map Code may be useful for drivers. Though not a map, I would also recommend the pamphlet about the Yamaga Lantern Festival to persons interested in that festival.
I scanned this paper map to make it available digitally. I'm not sure who first put it out but it is fairly detailed and, I think, useful.
The page has a complete map (that is, with all of the station names) of the tram (streetcar, trolley, or shiden) system in Kumamoto. This page also has a map of the Kumamoto Castle Loop Bus route and information about "one day free tickets" for bus and trolley lines.
This map does an excellent job of showing the location of most communities in Kumamoto and Kumamoto's relation to the Ariake Sea. Unfortunately, however, does not extend south of Yatsushiro.
This map shows the topography of the Kyushu area. You can see the basin in which Kumamoto City is located and the round outline of the Aso area.
This map may help friends and relatives understand where Kumamoto is located.
If you can handle Japanese on your computer, this site provides good maps of Kumamoto and other areas in Japan.
Unfortunately, the English version of Japan's Yellow Pages (Town Page) is defunct. If you can read Japanese, however, the Japanese Town Page is very useful.
Wikipedia is a convenient source of basic information (population, etc.) of many communities in Kumamoto Prefecture. If you find that some information is missing, you may want to consider adding it yourself.
This English page is provided by a Japanese language site that is promoting free wireless access (WiFi) to the Internet throughout Japan. If you would like to see the Japanese version of the Kumamoto page, click here. The Japanese page provides links with more information about taking advantage of free wireless Internet service using your own laptop. If you're planning a trip to another part of Japan, you may want to click on "TO FREESPOT MAP" to learn about access points you can use on the way.
This link uses Google to search a wide variety of news articles for the keyword "Kumamoto."
This news service provides English translations of news items from Nishi Nihon Shimbun. It is sponsored by the Fukuoka Now! site.
Many local news events (often events originally reported in the vernacular press) are summarized in English then discussed on this mailing list.
Kumamoto Prefecture provides a profile of the area (which briefly introduces the history, nature and various facts related to the prefecture), a "Global Bulletin Board," and a site entitled "Industrial Recruitment & Location Web Site" which is directed as high-tech industries considering locating in Kumamoto. The "Global Bulletin Board" includes the following information:
Up-dates on Sister State Relationship, Kumamoto Prefecture Citizen's Association Bulletin Board, Connecting Kumamoto to the World, The Kumamoto Council for International Exchange, Data on Internationalization in Kumamoto.
This cite, put out by the city government, provides much useful information about Kumamoto. It includes the following:
About HIV Testing, English AIDS Consultation, Application Requests for Copies of the Family Registry, International Relations, Kumamoto City International Center, Newsletter Kumamoto, Kumamoto City Sightseeing, City Map, Downtown Map, Sightseeing Spots & Facilities, Events & Festivals, Flower Viewing Sites, Transportation, Convention Facilities, Sports Facilities, Libraries, Tourist Information, Today's View of Kumamoto Castle.
This site contains all kinds of useful information related to life in Kumamoto. There is also information about language classes and social events that are held at the International Center. The format and contents of this web site almost entirely new at this writing (March 2005). Click here to view the old front page and access links to older pages.
If you are new to the Kumamoto area, I recommend that you stop by the International Center. This page provides a simple map showing the location. I you don't have a computer to use in Kumamoto, you can check your e-mail and surf the net on one of the computers that have been placed in the Center for general use. One of many important services provided at the center is foreign language consultation (counseling). Foreign residents with legal problems in Japan should be aware that free legal consultations are available on every 3rd Saturday between 2-4 pm. The site indicates that it is a good idea to make an appointment in advance.
Nagomi Town was created in 2006 when Kikusui and Mikawa merged. It is in Tamana Gun (county). This site provides useful information for visitors.
This site provides information on a few places to see, particularly the dinosaur museum.
The Kumamoto Prefecture "LINK" page says that this is the "latest web site of the Aso region. Full of information, from events to attractions, food and accommodations."
Minamata has become known internationally for the environmental tragedy that occurred here. Thousands of people were poisoned with mercury that was dumped into the sea. The disease caused by the mercury has become known throughout the world as Minamata disease. Now, the city is working to become known for its environmental responsibility. This site provides links to information on the environmental past and present of Minamata. One important link that is missing, however, is to the Minamata Disease Center Soshisha. This outstanding site is loaded with lots of excellent information in English. Beginners may wish to start by reading "TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MINAMATA DISEASE." This essay is also available in Chinese, French, and Japanese. I also recommend Minamata Disease Archives. In addition, The long road to recovery: Community responses to industrial disaster and Industrial Pollution in Japan are two books that have been published in full on line (html format) that both have excellent chapters about Minamata disease. In regard to the first book, The long road to recovery, be sure to click on "EXPAND TEXT" (just under the illustration of the book) in order to view or download the entire text. Finally, click here to see an image of W. Eugene Smith's most famous Minamata photograph.
This site provides information on the discrimination faced by individuals employed by the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.
This group helps foreigners "solve their problems including visa status, employment and labor condition, domestic violence and divorce, children's education and so on."
This page provides contact-information for local officers and some information about events. Though the Kumamoto JALT page does not contain a link to it at this time, I recommend that you look at the "JALT-bytes" archive to get a better idea of what sort of activies have been sponsored by the Kumamoto chapter of JALT. The Kumamoto JALT page provides information about how to subscribe to "JALT Bytes" (one cannot subscribe from the Yahoo! archive).
This organization is fighting the construction of a dam on the Kawabe River near Hitoyoshi. For more information about the problems associated with the construction of this dam and what you can do to help please see "Say "NO!" to the construction of the Kawabe River dam!."
"Nakakyushu Toastmasters Club (#6759-76), the first Toastmasters club in English in Kumamoto Prefecture, was organized in October 2001 and was chartered in March 2002."
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Miss Hannah Riddell and Miss Ada Wright did very important work helping victims of leprosy (Hansen's disease) in Kumamoto. For more information on the activities of Miss Riddell and Miss Wright and the memorial hall or museum (kinenkan in Japanese) celebrating their achievements please click here. For information about the history of Hansen's disease in Kumamoto beyond the early 20th century see AN ETHICAL ANALYSIS OF LEPROSY CONTROL POLICY IN JAPAN by Michio Miyasaka of Niigata University.
"Friendship Force" is an international organization with chapters all over the world. The mission statement of Friendship Force International says that the "mission of Friendship Force International is to create an environment where individual friendship can be established across the international barriers that separate people." As I understand it, Friendship Force clubs frequently arrange to visit or be visted by a club in another part of the world. Click here to view the Friendship Force International web site. The history section of the site says that Friendship Force International was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
This page, provided by the Kumamoto International Foundation, lists telephone numbers, e-mail contact addresses and other information about the following organanizations:
Kumamoto Lao Friendship Association (Laos), Kumamoto YWCA, Kumamotoken Japan China Friendship Association, GA Kumamoto (Indonesia), Amnesty International-Kumamoto, KIEP (People's Republic of China, Republic of Korea), Kumamoto Junior Chamber Incorporated, Japan Comittee for UNICEF Kumamoto Area Comittee, We Love Children (For better understanding of poverty, medical and social issues in developing countries)
Restaurants, bars and grocery stores
This page is a collection of links to messages that have been posted to the Kumamoto International mailing list about various restaurants and bars in Kumamoto. It also has links to places that offer Internet access (wireless as well as computers you can walk in and use).
This page is part of the Kumamoto-International Wiki and shows the locations of various food stores on a Google map.
These sites are not based in Kumamoto but allow people here (and in other parts of Japan) to have foreign foods sent to one's home. By the way, The Flying Pig is also a good place to buy a region-free DVD player.
The following restaurants are reviewed:
Aoyagi (Japanese), Fontana di Otani (Italian), Koshintei (Japanese), Senri (Japanese), Shingen Chikai (Japanese), and Tao-Li (Cantonese).
This page, which is part of the Kumamoto Hometown Homepage site, features information about the following establishments:
Keika Honten (ramen), Japanese Restaurant Ginnan, Bauhaus (gourmet coffee store), and Kusaha Mochi Honpo (tea salon).
There are some great videos about cultural life in Kumamoto but you need a very fast internet connection and a powerful computer to enjoy them.
Many factories in the Kyushu area that offer tours are listed on this site in English. At the writing (December 2005) the following factories in Kumamoto offer tours in English:
Kumamoto City Recycle Plaza Information Plaza, Kumamoto Industrial Exhibition Center Grandmesse Kumamoto (offers Spanish as well as English)
If you do not speak Japanese but can get someone who can interpret for you to go with you, there are many, many other tour options that you may find useful.
This outstanding site provides information on the following:
Look back a bit (Kumamoto Castle); Transportation (phone numbers for car rental agencies may be useful); Main Street (a clickable map showing the locations of several spots introduced on the site); Places to Visit (Kumamoto Castle, The former Hosokawa Gyobu-tei residence, Honmyo-ji Temple, Suizen-ji Joju-en Garden); Museums and Park (Residence of Janes, Tokutomi Kinen-en, Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum, Kumamoto Museum); Outdoor Activities (Kumamoto-shi Plant and Animal Park [zoo], Tatsuda Nature Park, Lake Ezu-ko); Local Food (Keika Honten [ramen], Japanese Restaurant Ginnan, Bauhaus [gourmet coffee], Kusaha Mochi Honpo [tea salon]); Arts, Crafts, and Specialties (Higo Inlay, Shodai-yaki ware, Raw Horse Meat, Higo Dengaku, Tangerine Brandy, Seafood); Festivals and Events (Plant Market, Hinokuni Festival, Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine Grand Festival); Koizumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn); Dialog (a few words in the Kumamoto dialect).
This site is worth checking out. I would particularly recommend their "Useful Information" page. Topics include banks and post offices that can help with currency exchange (including a map clearly showing the locations of most of the banks and post offices mentioned), ATMs at which you can use credit cards to get cash (here, too, with a map), tourist information centers (with phone numbers), information about inexpensive interpretation and guide services, information about city buses and trolleys (street cars; again, with nice maps). There are also downloadable maps of the city but at this writing (November, 2007) their resolution is rather low so their usefulness is limited.
This site provides information on the following places in Kumamoto (in addition to many other places in the Kyushu area):
Oura Catholic Church (Amakusa), Tsujunkyo Bridge, Mt. Aso, and Suizenji Park.
A former JET named Kevin Cassell describes his experience in Amakusa on this page.
VirtualTourist members can (and to some extent have) posted information about the Kumamoto area here.
This site is a must for anyone who loves waterfalls. It is very comprehensive and the photos are quite good.
This is a nicely organized, useful site for those interested in sightseeing. It includes information on the following:
Kikuchi-Keikoku Ravine, Aso, Hitoyoshi. (Kumagawa River Kyusendo), Amakusa, Kumamoto City
The page provides basic information (addresses, phone numbers, hours, etc.) for the following museums in Kumamoto:
Yatsushiro Municipal Museum (Yatsushiro shiritsu hakubutsukan); Kumamoto Prefectural Arts & Crafts Museum (Kumamoto-ken dento kogeikan); Kumamoto International Folklore Museum (Kumamoto kokusai mingeikan); Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (Kumamoto kenritsu bijutsukan).
The remarkably complete introduction to Kumamoto seems to have been put up by a private individual. It contains explanations about the follwoing:
Honmyoji Temple, Kumamotojo Castle, Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center, Kumamoto International Folkcraft Museum, Suizenji-Koen Park, Shimada Art Museum, Prefectural Museum of Ancient Ornamental Burial Mounds (Kao Town), Yachiyo-za Theater (Yamaga City), Mt. Aso, Asozan-nishi Ropeway Station, Aso-sancho (Top of Mt. Nakadake)
This is the web site seems to have been put together by a visitor to Kumamoto's largest amusement park.
The following links are to messages posted to Kumamoto International about local travel agencies:
This convenient page allows you to search for schedule and pricing information about trains and airline flights between any two stations in Japan.
I made this page to help people who are unable to or have difficulty reading Japanese use NEXCO Nishi Nihon toll calcultor.
This is a page of links and supplementary comments on Internet weather sites that provide weather forecasts for the Kumamoto area.
This page is provided by the Japan Meteorologic Agency and, in addition to information about official warnings and advisories for the Kumamoto area, contains links to earthquake information and a UV index.
This is part of the Kumamoto Prefecture's site. It is in Japanese but the information is presented in a visual manner that may also be useful to persons who do not read Japanese. Click on the map to get more detailed information about an area in Kumamoto. When you click on a particular area, the key you will see on the right presents the warning levels for landslides (circles), flooding (triangles), and high tide (squares). Unfortunately, I can't find a clear indication of when one needs to evacuate, but if you see red or purple in your area, you had better either make sure you are in a reasonably safe place and/or consult with you neighbors to see what they are doing. If you are particularly interested in river levels click here for Kumamoto or click here for all of Kyushu. On the page showing river levels in Kumamoto, the rightside up triangles indicate that river levels are going up while the upside down triangles indicate that they are declining. A blue triangle indicates that the river is not at a level high enough to require the flood reaction units (suibodan) to be put on call, yellow means they have been put on call, orange means a flood warning has been issued, pink means evacuation is required, and red means that a flood has occurred. On the page for all of Kyushu (which is less detailed but easier to understand than the page for Kumamoto) grey means a flood warning has been retracted, yellow means a flood warning (chui), red means a high level warning (keikoku), orange means danger (kiken), and black means a flood has occurred. Finally, click here to see where landslides are more likely and how high the danger level is at the moment. Blue simply means that it is raining in the area where you see the blue mark. Yellow, orange, and red signify increasing levels of danger. Red means there is extreme danger. Orange means that we are less than one hour away from red (if rain continues unabated), and yellow is less than two hours from red.
This page is provided by the Japan Meteorologic Agency. Note that the times and dates a UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) so you need to add 9 hours to the times you see. The Japanese version of the page gives the times in local (Japanese) time and provides other information (wind speeds, etc) that is not on the English page. A site called "TropicalStormRisk.com", which is maintained by University College of London, is an outstanding source of information on tropical storms throughout the world, including East Asia. The site is particularly useful because it displays information about the intensity (i.e. "category") of each storm in a clear, color-coded format. Also, click here to view a page with a wide variety of links to sites providing information about tropical storms near Japan and other parts of the world.
This outstanding page provides information on average temperatures, precipitation, average number of rainy days, etc. for each month of the year based on thirty years of data. You can choose to view the tempertures in Celcius or Farheinheit by clicking on the symbols toward the top of the page.
If you feel the earth shake and want information about the extent of the quake and its epicenter, go to this page, which is put on by the Japan Meteorological Society. Be sure to check the time listed for the earthquake information to see if it corresponds with the time of the earthquake you felt. This page is constantly updated so a small earthquake that occured somewhere in Japan after the quake you felt may be the first information you see. If that is the case, you can click on "Previous Informations" (sic) to find the information about the quake you felt. If you need information about the JMA seismic intensity levels (shindo), click here. You may also be able to find some information of interest on the IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) seimic monitor page.
This is a map of Kyushu's volcanos that shows the current warning level for each volcano. The warnings are given on a scale of Levels 1 to 5: Level 1 (Normal); Level 2 (Do not apprach the crater); Level 3 (Do not approach the volcano); Level 4 (Prepare to evacuate); Level 5 (Evacuate).