Mount Aso had just erupted over the weekend when I was making my way to Kumamoto. However, fears of volcanic ash blanketing Kumamoto were unnecessary as the volcanic crater had calmed down fairly quickly. Kumamoto’s main attraction is its majestic castle, which was built between 1601 and 1607 and housed the powerful Hosokawa clan (細川氏).
The present structure is a reconstruction, however, the original was burned down during the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, in which it was recorded some 40,000 armed peasants and samurai led by Saigo Takamori (西郷 隆盛) lay seige on the fortress against the imperial army (Source: Lonely Planet).
In addition to imposing Kumamoto-jo (熊本城), you cannot miss the ubiquitous Kumamon or 熊もん, the mascot and symbol of the city. For an understated but otherwise serene place to contemplate the magnificence of the Hosokawa clan, check out the adjacent Honmaru Palace (本丸御殿) and the former residence of the Hosokawa clan, the Hosokawa Gyobutei (旧細川刑部邸). LS