Kumamoto 熊本: Transport, Stay and Orientation

By Cubie - June 12, 2019

Kumamoto (熊本) is a major city in Kumamoto Prefecture. The most famous attraction in Kumamoto  is its castle, even when it is not open to public currently due to reconstruction work following damage in the Kyushu Earthquake on 14th April 2016.

Mentaiko omusubi for breakfast

Getting to Kumamoto from Nagasaki
There is bus option but I went with shinkansen. I bought the 5-day Northern Kyushu Area pass and made the seats reservations the day before. I took the Ltd Exp Kamome 12 and transferred to Shinkansen Sakura 547 at Shin-Tosu. Google map gives options of transportation but I like Hyperdia for breakdown of train time and costs.

Kumamoto Train Station, JR complimentary wi-fi available

Kumamoto City Tram
I initially made a reservation at a hostel near the train station but later on changed my booking to one nearer to Kumamoto Kōtsū Center Bus Terminal (熊本交通センター) as well as the castle. One can get bus tickets in advance in this bus terminal or if you are using SunQ pass, this is also where you can make reservation for the seats in person, if calling isn't your thing. (Note: If you ring for bus reservation, you'll need to call different bus company if you are going with different companies)

This is stop B8 Senbabashi 洗馬橋
I bought the Kumamoto City Tram 1 Day Pass for ¥500, otherwise it is ¥170 per trip. The pass is a flip up card, also with route map printed on the back of the pass.

It is a flip up ticket but I collage the pictures side by side. Front (left) and back (right) for the ticket. 
Like above photo, left is top, right is bottom
Like how Nagasaki's streetcar pass, just need to present the scratched off area of the 1-day pass to the conductor before getting off. Free wi-fi is available when riding the tram.

Once you are within the central area, most of the attractions are within walking distance.

Dyeing and Hostel Nakashiyama (染物宿之中岛屋)
This hostel is only open for female guests. If I am to describe the hostel in Nagasaki as modern co-working hub hostel, this one is a cosy, traditional ryokan. A complete opposite but very beautiful home. This hostel is frills-free - no breakfast provided, towels and toiletries are not provided but if needed, can be purchased.

Location wise, it was perfect. It was about 10 minutes walk to the bus terminal, 5 minutes away from Gofukumachi, A5 (呉服町) on tram line A and less than 5 minutes from Sensabashi, B8 (洗馬橋) on tram line B.

Check-in counter manned by Kumamoto bear
I arrived before noon but check-in time is not till 4:00PM. The hostess allowed me to drop my bag and I asked for some recommendations for lunch. I only saw the entrance bit of the hostel when I arrived but after returning later at night to check-in, I was wowed, the place was cosy and beautiful.

Kitchen on first floor (i.e ground floor)
Staircase leading up to second floor

Lounge area

See the 3 strings with Totoro, Kiki Delivery Service and Frozen pictures and invitation to pull? I pulled the one with Totoro, and the audio for Totoro's movie started after I heard some machine running sound. I initially thought it works like music box where it only plays the first few minutes but it went on and on. It was late at night and I was really sleepy but stayed there waiting for it to finish. I didn't even switched on the TV to check if the movie was playing, so I am not sure, it could be a movie or just an audio book. By the time the movie reached the part Kanta's grandmother went over to their new house, I decided to give the string another tug and it finally stopped. Haha.. imagine if I waited till the movie finished!


One of the powder room

Side note: I'm amazed how staying at home not doing anything works wonder in flu recovery.

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