Exploring the Hidden Charms of Kumamoto via National Route 218


Discover the hidden charms of Kumamoto along National Route 218. Explore scenic gorges, historical sites, and cultural landmarks. Enjoy local gourmet delights like Kumamoto ramen. Plan your perfect driving trip through Kyushu’s picturesque landscapes.

Overview of National Route 218 in Kumamoto

National Route 218 is a general national highway that extends from Chuo Ward in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, to Nobeoka City in Miyazaki Prefecture, crossing the Kyushu Mountains. Along this route, you’ll find beautiful scenery, historical sites, and tourist attractions, making it perfect for a driving trip.

Scenic and Natural Attractions along Route 218 in Kumamoto

Along National Route 218 in Kumamoto, you can enjoy the scenery just by driving, but there are many large and small waterfalls that make it worthwhile to stop and explore. Here, we introduce some notable spots among these picturesque landscapes.

Soyokyo Gorge

Soyokyo Gorge, formed by the Gokase River which originates in the central Kyushu mountains and flows into Nobeoka, is one of Kumamoto Prefecture’s most notable gorges and is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Kyushu.”

Soyokyo is a U-shaped gorge with sheer cliffs that stretch for about 14 kilometers. Further downstream, in Miyazaki Prefecture, lies the famous Takachiho Gorge, also shaped by the Gokase River.

It is a breathtaking spot, especially during the autumn foliage season, offering spectacular views.

Cultural and Historical Sites along Route 218 in Kumamoto

Along National Route 218 in Kumamoto, there are many places that flourished as post towns during the Edo period, and it is characterized by numerous spots rooted in old history and culture.

Tsujun Bridge

Tsujun Bridge, constructed in 1854 (Kaei 7), is a remarkable stone arch aqueduct bridge built to deliver agricultural water to the isolated Shiraito Plateau, which is surrounded by rivers.

This stone arch structure, measuring approximately 78 meters in length and 21.3 meters in height, uses innovative engineering to transport water from the northern intake to the southern fields via a conduit made of tuff stone pipes.

One of the bridge’s highlights is the periodic water discharge event, a dramatic display where water jets forcefully through the stone pipes, an impressive sight that attracts many visitors.

Seiwa Bunraku Theater

The Seiwa Bunraku Theater, located in Yamato Town, Kumamoto Prefecture, is dedicated to the art and preservation of “Seiwa Bunraku,” a traditional puppet theater.

Seiwa Bunraku began in the late Edo period (around 1850) when locals in Seiwa Village acquired puppets and learned techniques from a traveling puppet troupe from Awaji. It was primarily performed by farmers for community enjoyment and at festivals.

Although it faced decline in the late Meiji period, Seiwa Bunraku saw a resurgence in the early Showa period, with key figures and puppet experts recognized as cultural assets.

The theater hosts numerous performances annually and has even taken the art form to international audiences, including tours in Ireland, Italy, and South Korea.

Mamihara Shopping Street

Because of its central location in Kyushu, Mamihara flourished as a post town and a crucial transportation hub from the mid-Edo period to the early Showa period.

Along the way, the “Hyuga Road” connecting Kumamoto and Nobeoka intersects with the “Shiiba Road” connecting Aso and Shiiba. Nearby, you can find historical sites such as the remains of a major checkpoint and the rare Mamihara Bridge, which features both a roadway and a sidewalk.

Running parallel to National Route 218, buildings with a white and black color scheme line the streets, creating a unified townscape as part of a revitalization effort.

Gastronomic Delights along Route 218 in Kumamoto

Here are some recommended gourmet foods and specialty products along Route 218 in Kumamoto.

Kumamoto Ramen

This ramen features a rich pork bone broth. It’s popular for its creamy flavor, enhanced with ingredients like fried garlic and black garlic oil, and is served with slightly firm noodles.


Blueberries can be enjoyed fresh, and there are also many processed products such as jams, wine, and ice cream.


Rice from the terraced fields is popular, including “Aigamo Rice” grown using the Aigamo farming method and “Yusui Rice” nurtured by clear spring water.

Yabe Tea

This area is known for green tea production due to its high altitude. Particularly, Yabe tea is renowned for its rich flavor and fragrant aroma.

National Route 218 offers a unique blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and cultural depth, making it an ideal destination for a tailored travel experience.

Customize your journey to include stops at scenic spots like Soyokyo Gorge, historical landmarks such as Tsujun Bridge, and cultural treasures like the Seiwa Bunraku Theater. Don’t forget to savor the local gourmet delights, from the rich flavors of Kumamoto ramen to the refreshing taste of Yabe tea.

For those who want to travel along National Route 218 in Kumamoto Prefecture, please contact INAKAdventure!

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