Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu is famous for the natural beauty of Mount Aso – an active volcano and recognised UNESCO World Geo Park – but also for its mystifying cultures and traditions that attract people from around the world.
This festival held at Omiya Shrine is one of the three greatest fire festivals held during summer in Kumamoto (a prefecture also known as the Land of Fire). The festival features Toro Odori – a folk dance conducted by one thousand women, each wearing a yukata (cotton kimono), while dawning lanterns on their head, for a uniquely elegant ambiance. There is also the Yamaga Lantern Museum in Yamaga City, where one can learn about this festival in depth.
The Yatsushiro Myoken Festival (held around the end of November in southern Kumamoto) is famous for its elaborately decorated, enormous Kasaboko umbrellas and a dance by ”Kida” (a 200kg turtle with the head of a snake). The decorations and performances are quite unique, and worth visiting.
Kurokawa is a small hot spring town, located to the north of Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture. Filled with lush nature, luxurious hot springs, traditional inns, and an overall Ghibli-esque atmosphere, Kurokawa earns its reputation as one of the best hotspring destinations in Japan.
Yamaga, a northern town in Kumamoto, Yamaga has been a prosperous, bustling agricultural town and a very lively onsen retreat since the Edo Period.
With some building units recycled from the original town, the current town retains authentic beauty of Edo style architecture here and there.
Uchinomaki consists of about 100 hot spring sources which is surrounded by the volcanic crater at the foot of Mount Aso. This onsen has earned fame for being one of the places beloved by the famous Japanese novelist, Natsume Soseki. While revelling in the seasonal scenery of Aso Gogaku, you can enjoy various kinds of onsen spas.