Strolling through the streets in Kumamoto popularly housing dozens of onsens with its individual speciality, kimono-clad ladies was an accidental stumble. Clad in traditional costumes known as kimono, it has gained more awareness and popularity in western countries as jackets, an alternative in any size made with exceptional skill from fine materials.
Kurokawa Onsen 黒川温泉, 熊本県
The Kurokawa onsen dazzles onsen-lovers with nature beauty at its doorstep. A cascading waterfall at a distant and sound of splashing waters making its presence, the view isn’t like the other foggy window sight or mundane greens.
It feels like embracing nature wonders. A soak in the cave while pepping out presented with a picturesque view, i can practically treat as a bathtub and rejuvenate in it for the whole day.
The pale milky blue cobalt waters at the outdoor hot spring onsen changed the perception of our usual clear onsen dips. Sulphur-contained, it is believed to have many possible efficacy such as muscle aches, blood circulation and many more.
If you are an indoor person, push the windows open and another enchanting view greets you, especially during autumn where fallen leaves are consistent. Soft smoother moisturised skin is the after-effect of every soak besides the reward of a lush green scenery.
Kurokawa has a total of 24 baths in the vicinity where visitors can enjoy onsen-hopping for just 1,200 yen to 3 onsens over 6 months or 500 yen to each onsen. A familiar sight of Kyushu introduced, the bridge links onsen resort is a common appearance on magazines and tv programmes such as Japan Hour. Kurokawa, Kumamoto is home to one of the world best onsens and needless to mention, the views, which are just some reasons why a visit shouldn’t be left out on any Kyushu trip.
The Igozaka, a street lined with small boutique shops selling souvenir and food is just another source after visiting the onsens. Freshen up with a mist spray on your face at the entrance of the street. Remember to try the Dora Dora Burger, a daifuku-style confection sandwiched between two handmade pancakes and also other sweets and snacks like cream puff, vanilla-whipped ice cream, horse meat and many more.
Sample the Basashi, a thin-sliced of raw horse meat served with light sauce and taken just the way like sashimi. It is tangible with no strong smell, but melts in the mouth on a few tender small bites. Horse meat is also known for its good health benefits like reducing cholesterol and a possible longevity, which is now still taken under test.
A windy road from Kurokawa, we soon had our eyes treated to another picture-perfect gorgeous greens. At firs thought, New Zealand came to mind, but the japanese words scribbled on signboards just brought me back. Punctuated with thermal crater reeking of sulphur and studded with gushing sulphur-particles, the Mt Aso is an active volcano where you risk your life to see this magnificent destination.
Left-over volcanic ash spurted over time are seen all around when we reached the peak. Fertile land with safety shelters are spread out steps away from the crater, where they might be essential life-savers during eruption.
Known as Land of Fire, Mt Aso is located between Oita and Kumamoto. The area is also scattered with many hot spring villages, thanks to its geographic location. Alarms and gas alert just made the area a little worrying to visit, but it is relatively safe to do circles above the crater on a helicopter and see the boiling magma from the top. Ropeway or chartered scheduled bus is possible to get to Mt Aso.
The Kumamoto Castle is one of the last stops of the tour before returning to Fukuoka, though there might be many other sightseeing or shopping you can do. Unwinding the curtain in my hotel room – The Kumamoto Castle Hotel, “Wow.” just didn’t come hesitantly. The sunset was just as impressive as what we were told about the rich history of the Kumamoto castle, one of the top 3 best stunning castles after Kyoto and Tokyo.
Sometimes, we just want to call Japan our home. The courtesy and friendly hospitality of local people is too zealous; early birds enjoy a performance by the samurai-dressed and a short welcome speech in Japanese.
Uto Turret since 1877
The Kumamoto Castle has two towers – one is the Honmaru Goten Palace while the other is the originally-standing Uto Turret. The Honmaru Goten Palace contains a modern extravagant museum with displays on the castle’s history and construction. A tedious climbing of steep narrow stairs are required for the Uto Turret tower, which doesn’t leave one with regrets – as you get a breathtaking view of the surroundings from the top.
You can pose pictures with the samurai in front of the castle towers. There are displays about what materials are used to construct the towers and maintain them. The pasture greens are pleasant for both the eyes and heart while we set our foot on the ground where warriors once took positions through gate-like windows to protect the fortification.
GETTING TO KUMAMOTO
Desktop photos await you on the climb to Mt Aso.
Kumamoto is an hour away from Fukuoka. If you’re traveling within Japan, the 3 cities – Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya are now directly connected to Kumamoto on Jetstar Japan flights. Jetstar flies daily from Singapore to Fukuoka via Bangkok, landing you early to do some city-hopping to other prefectures. Book your next Kyushu trip at Jetstar.com.