Yamaga in Kumamoto, Kyushu is the best place to visit in Japan

Explore the enchanting town of Yamaga in Kumamoto, Kyushu, a hidden gem that offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Discover why Yamaga is the ultimate destination for travelers seeking an authentic Japanese experience.

Why is Yamaga the best place to visit in Japan?

Yamaga, located in the northern part of Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Japan. Known for its rich history, beautiful natural landscapes, and cultural heritage, Yamaga offers a unique and memorable experience for every traveler. Situated in the heart of Kyushu, Yamaga serves as an ideal gateway to explore the diverse attractions and charm of the region.

One of the key reasons why Yamaga is considered the best place in Japan is its enchanting blend of tradition and nature. Visitors can immerse themselves in the town’s historical significance by exploring landmarks such as the Yamaga Lantern Folk Craft Museum, which showcases the intricate craftsmanship behind the famous Yamaga Lantern Festival. This festival, held every August, illuminates the town with thousands of handmade paper lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere that captivates both locals and tourists alike.

The natural beauty surrounding Yamaga is equally breathtaking. The area boasts scenic spots such as Kikuchi Gorge and Kikuchi Shrine, which offer picturesque views and serene environments perfect for relaxation and reflection. The nearby Mount Aso, one of the largest active volcanoes in Japan, provides adventurous travelers with opportunities for hiking and exploring its stunning caldera.

Moreover, Yamaga is known for its warm hospitality and delicious local cuisine. In Yamaga, besides the Kumamoto specialties of basashi (horse meat sashimi) and karashi renkon (mustard-stuffed lotus root), you can also enjoy dishes featuring ingredients such as spring bamboo shoots and autumn chestnuts.The local sake breweries also offer a taste of traditional Japanese rice wine, further enhancing the gastronomic experience.

In conclusion, Yamaga in Kumamoto, Kyushu, stands out as the best place in Japan due to its captivating mix of history, nature, culture, and cuisine. Whether you are a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, Yamaga provides a rich and diverse experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Its central location in Kyushu makes it a perfect starting point for exploring the wider region, adding to its appeal as a top travel destination in Japan.

Yamaga Toro(Lantern) Festival

The Yamaga Lantern Festival is a festival held at the Omiya Shrine in Yamaga from August 15th to 17th every year, where women dressed in yukata dance through the city with golden lanterns on their heads.

It is said to have started around 600 years ago, experiencing periods of decline and revival with the changing times. Today, it is known as a Japanese festival called the Sen-nin Odori (Dance by one thousand people), which many tourists visit every year to witness this traditional event.

Yamaga Lantern Festival

The best place to visit in Yamaga

We would like to introduce some places in Yamaga that you should visit.

Yamaga Onsen

Yamaga Onsen, said to be one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Kumamoto Prefecture, has records dating back over a thousand years as a renowned hot spring area. Among the many hot spring inns in the area, “Sakura-yu,” known as a public hot spring facility, has been beloved by people since 1640. It was sadly demolished in 1973 but continued its operation as part of a redevelopment building. In 2012, it was revived in its original form as Kyushu’s largest wooden hot spring facility built using traditional Japanese construction methods.

Sakura yu

Yamaga Toro(Lantern) museum

The history of Yamaga Lanterns dates back around 600 years and is a traditional craft that has been passed down through generations. Originally dedicated by the people of Yamaga to the Omiya Shrine in the city, lanterns have evolved over the long history with artisans creating various works.

Currently, Yamaga Lanterns are designated as a National Traditional Craft. Made only from washi paper and a small amount of glue, Yamaga Lanterns are praised as the epitome of washi paper craftsmanship due to their delicacy and beauty.

At the Yamaga Lantern Folk Art Museum, you can admire numerous masterpieces of Yamaga Lanterns and also participate in activities such as lantern-making demonstrations by artisans and hands-on lantern-making experiences.

Yamaga Lantern Museum


Yachiyo-za is a theater that was built in 1910. Since its opening, it has hosted various performances, bringing liveliness to Yamaga. However, after the war, the number of visitors decreased, and it finally closed its doors in 1973.

Yet, due to the local community’s strong desire to revive Yachiyo-za, fundraising activities were carried out, leading to its designation as an important cultural property by the government in 1988. After restoration and repairs, it reopened in 2001 with a renewed look.

Visitors can admire the precious architectural style of that time and enjoy performances, including kabuki, that are still held there. Additionally, visitors can experience the Yamaga Lantern Dance.


Let's travel to Yamaga, which is the best place to visit in Japan!

Discover the rich history and cultural heritage of Yamaga, a hidden gem in Japan. From the historic Yamaga Lanterns with a legacy dating back 600 years to the revitalized Yachiyo-za theater, there is much to explore and experience in this charming town.

Don’t miss the annual Yamaga Lantern Festival, a vibrant celebration at Omiya Shrine where women in yukata dance with golden lanterns on their heads, captivating visitors with its tradition and beauty.

Immerse yourself in the local traditions by visiting the Yamaga Lantern Folk Art Museum and witnessing the exquisite craftsmanship of these lanterns. Experience the essence of Japanese culture through kabuki performances at the restored Yachiyo-za theater.

To explore the picturesque town of Yamaga and create everlasting memories in the heart of Japan, you’ll need to plan with INAKAdventure. Leave the tailored trips to us and let us guide you through the beauty of Yamaga and beyond!

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