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The city with a cute black bear with red cheeks named "Kumamon" as its mascot; Kumamoto is the capital city of the Kumamoto Prefecture. It sits on the island of Kyushu, Japan sharing a border with the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu metropolitan area. During World War II the city endured several air raids with the largest one being on the night of 30th June 1945 when about one third of the city was burned and more than 300 people died.
There is not a lot for the tourist to gawk at here and it is not really on the radar of the meandering hordes, but there are a few sights worth checking out. The Kumamoto Castle is the most famous landmark in Kumamoto. A huge and extremely well fortified castle, it was believed to be impregnable. The castle was eventually ransacked and burned after a 53-day siege during the Satsuma Rebellion in the late 1800s (a muddy battle between the Satsuma Clan Samurai and the Imperial Japanese Army). There are only a few ancillary wooden buildings remaining of the original castle and the castle central keep is a concrete reconstruction built in the 1970s. Within the outer walls of the castle is the Hosokawa Gyobu-tei of the Higo daimyo, the former residence that is a traditional wooden mansion surrounded by a stunning Japanese garden.
You can check out the cave known as "Reigando" (aka spirit rock cave) where Miyamoto Musashi lived out his last years and where he wrote the famous "Go Rin no Sho" (The Book of Five Rings). If you feel the need for some fresh air take in the formal garden "Suizen-ji Joju-en" at the Suizenji Temple. The downtown area and commercial district extends for several city blocks where you will find the usual department stores, restaurants and bars to satisfy any hunger pangs you may have.
For the cultural buffs there is the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art and Kumamoto Prefectural Theater to poke your nose into. If you want to totally relax head to the traditional wooden inns at Kurokawa Onsen and dip your feet into the warm waters of trickling streams. For the adventurous soul you can climb to the top of the Tsujun Bridge and get the most incredible view of the gushing water and the surrounding lush rice paddies.
The one thing you must do is to try your taste buds out on some raw horsemeat. This is the local delicacy known as "basashi" and can be seasoned with ginger and soy sauce then you can wash it all down with some sake.
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