Kumamoto (熊本) is located in the center of Kyusyu, the southern part of Japan. It only takes a one and half hour flight from Tokyo or a 33-minute train ride from Fukuoka to discover this well-developed, wealthy city. Kumamoto originally prospered as an important strategic point during the Edo era, under Governor Kato Kiyomasa. Kumamoto Castle was built in 1607 and it has remained the most enduring symbol of the city for over four centuries.
Kumamoto is known as a compact city in Japan. The far-reaching network of local tramways provides both residents and tourists a smooth access to the downtown areas. In addition, Kumamoto is connected by high-speed train with all other major Kyusyu cities, within a one-hour radius.
At the same time, the city is also proud of its rich variety and quantity of agricultural products. Kumamoto ranks in the top 10 cities in Japan in terms of production of agricultural goods such as rice, vegetables, and fruits, partly due to its abundant natural water originating from the Aso mountains. Horse meat dishes are the most famous local food in Kumamoto.
Alas, the Kumamoto region was hit by a strong earthquake in 2016, which brought wide and serious damage to many streets and buildings, including touristic sites like the castle. Today, Kumamoto has been fully rehabilitated and daily life proceeds as before the disaster. Welcoming the Rugby World Cup will be a great chance for the city to display its spectacular recovery to Japan and the rest of the world. Kumamoto will host France v Tonga and Wales v Uruguay during the competition.