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Population (approx.): 1,822 million (2012)
Area: 2,859 sq miles
Area Rank: 16
Kumamoto Prefecture is located in the Kyushu region and is known for its hot springs resorts. Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto is a pleasant hot spring town that attracts many tourists with its traditional atmosphere. Town guests can choose from a number of hot springs and rotenburo, outdoor baths. Some of the baths in the area were even enjoyed by feudal lords in the past. Mt. Aso in Kumamoto is an active volcano in Japan and among the largest in the world. The volcano and its surroundings are often closed off due to volcanic activity so those planning to visit should check the volcano’s status before their visit. Also in Kumamoto is the Kumamoto Castle, a hilltop, extremely well fortified Japanese castle. The castle was built in the early 1600s but its castle keep was burned down in 1877. In 1960 it was the exterior was reconstructed but the inside was modified into a museum about the castle’s history.
Well fortified hilltop castle; several original wooden buildings remain
Prosperous former castle town; Now economic center of Kumamoto Prefecture
Largest active volcano in Japan and one of the largest in the world
Gentle curtain-like waterfall in Kagoshima countryside
Kumamoto has several unique local dishes. The first is the “karashi renkon”, fried boiled lotus roots with mustard-miso fillings. The lotus roots (renkon) are first boiled then stuffed with a miso and mustard paste (karashi). The stuffed lotus roots are then coated with wheat flour and fried to a crunchy texture. Karashi renkon is served sliced, with the flower like insides of the renkon slices showing.
Kumamoto is also famous for eating “basashi”, raw horse meat. Basashi meat is sliced thinly and eaten with soy sauce just like sashimi.
A popular type of snack from Kumamoto is the “ikinari dango”, a steamed bun with sweet potato and red bean paste. The sweet potatoes are cut into chunks and wrapped in dough with anko, sweet red bean paste then steamed. Ikinari dango is a popular confectionery in Kumamoto.
Higo Temari is a traditional folk art produced in Kumamoto Prefecture. It is a beautifully weaved ball made from colorful threads weaved through the ball to form various designs. Higo Temari were originally used as toys for young girls but today is more commonly used as ornaments for their aesthetics. When Higo Temari were first introduced from China around 640 AD, these beautiful toys were only common among children of higher classes. It was not until much later during the Edo Period that the public was introduced to the Higo Temari.
Yatsushiro Fireworks Festival is one of Japan's largest fireworks event displaying the electrifying works of firework technicians from Northern Akita to Southern Kagoshima. The event takes place in Kumamoto on the 3rd Saturday of every October and attracts more than 150,000 spectators. As the only major fireworks competition in Western Japan, people gather from all parts of the area to watch the night sky light up in beautiful electric colors. The fireworks of Yatsushiro Fireworks Festival are no ordinary fireworks either. They feature all kinds of designs, colors, and even create characters out of the displays of light. Music fireworks are also becoming popular in which fireworks are lit with music to please not only the eyes but also the ears. The fireworks light up in beautiful harmony with the festive music as spectators watch the beautiful fire creations explode in the sky.
Graceful dance featuring women carrying lanterns on their heads