Kumamoto

熊本市
Kumamoto City
From top left:Central Kumamoto view from Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto City Tramway, Fujisaki hachimangu shrine, Suizenji Park
From top left:Central Kumamoto view from Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto City Tramway, Fujisaki hachimangu shrine, Suizenji Park
Flag of Kumamoto
Flag
Official seal of Kumamoto
Emblem
Kumamoto is located in Japan
Kumamoto
Kumamoto
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 32°48′11″N 130°42′28″E / 32.80306°N 130.70778°E / 32.80306; 130.70778Coordinates: 32°48′11″N 130°42′28″E / 32.80306°N 130.70778°E / 32.80306; 130.70778
CountryJapan
RegionKyushu
PrefectureKumamoto Prefecture
Government
 • MayorKazufumi Ōnishi[1][2]
Area
 • Total390.32 km2 (150.70 sq mi)
Population
 (June 1, 2019)
 • Total738,907
 • Density1,900/km2 (4,900/sq mi)
Symbols
 • TreeGinkgo
 • FlowerCamellia
 • BirdGreat tit
Time zoneUTC+9 (JST)
Websitewww.city.kumamoto.jp
Location of Kumamoto in Kumamoto Prefecture
Map showing Kumamoto Metropolitan Employment Area

Kumamoto (熊本市, Kumamoto-shi) is the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

As of June 1, 2019, the city has an estimated population of 738,907 and a population density of 1,893 persons per km². The total area is 390.32 km².

Greater Kumamoto (熊本都市圏) had a population of 1,461,000, as of the 2000 census. As of 2010, Kumamoto Metropolitan Employment Area has a GDP of US$39.8 billion.[3][4] It is not considered part of the Fukuoka–Kitakyushu metropolitan area, despite their shared border. The city was designated on April 1, 2012, by government ordinance.

History

Katō Kiyomasa, a contemporary of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, was made daimyō of half of the (old) administrative region of Higo in 1588. Afterwards, Kiyomasa built Kumamoto Castle. Due to its many innovative defensive designs, Kumamoto Castle was considered impregnable, and Kiyomasa enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest castle-builders in Japanese history. After Kiyomasa died in 1611, his son, Tadahiro, succeeded him. In 1632, Tadahiro was removed by Tokugawa Iemitsu and replaced with the Hosokawa clan. Hosokawa Tadatoshi, the third lord of Kumamoto, was the patron of the artist[5] and swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.[6]

The current administrative body of the City of Kumamoto was founded on April 1, 1889.

On July 1, 1945, near the end of World War II, Kumamoto was bombed in an Allied air raid that destroyed one square mile, which was 20% of the city's area.[8] After the war, the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii decided to construct a Peace Pagoda atop Mount Hanaoka in the city to commemorate all those lost in war and to promote peace.[9] Inaugurated in 1954, it was the first of over 80 Peace Pagodas built by Fujii and his followers all over the world.[10]

On February 1, 1991, the towns of Akita, Kawachi, Tenmei, and Hokubu (all from Hōtaku District) were merged into Kumamoto. On October 6, 2008, the town of Tomiai (from Shimomashiki District) was merged into Kumamoto. On March 23, 2010, the town of Jōnan (also from Shimomashiki District) and the town of Ueki (from Kamoto District) were merged into Kumamoto.[11]

A series of earthquakes struck the area beginning April 14, 2016, including a tremor with moment magnitude 7.1 early in the morning of April 16, 2016.[12]

Geography

Climate

Kumamoto has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot, humid summers and cold winters. There is significant precipitation throughout the year, especially during June and July.

Climate data for Kumamoto, Kumamoto (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.5
(72.5)
26.4
(79.5)
27.4
(81.3)
30.7
(87.3)
34.4
(93.9)
36.1
(97.0)
38.8
(101.8)
38.5
(101.3)
37.0
(98.6)
33.7
(92.7)
28.9
(84.0)
24.6
(76.3)
38.8
(101.8)
Average high °C (°F) 10.5
(50.9)
12.1
(53.8)
15.7
(60.3)
21.3
(70.3)
25.6
(78.1)
28.2
(82.8)
31.7
(89.1)
33.2
(91.8)
29.9
(85.8)
24.6
(76.3)
18.5
(65.3)
13.0
(55.4)
22.0
(71.6)
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.7
(42.3)
7.1
(44.8)
10.6
(51.1)
15.7
(60.3)
20.2
(68.4)
23.6
(74.5)
27.3
(81.1)
28.2
(82.8)
24.9
(76.8)
19.1
(66.4)
13.1
(55.6)
7.8
(46.0)
16.9
(62.4)
Average low °C (°F) 1.2
(34.2)
2.3
(36.1)
5.6
(42.1)
10.3
(50.5)
15.2
(59.4)
19.8
(67.6)
24.0
(75.2)
24.4
(75.9)
20.8
(69.4)
14.2
(57.6)
8.3
(46.9)
3.1
(37.6)
12.5
(54.5)
Record low °C (°F) −9.2
(15.4)
−9.2
(15.4)
−6.9
(19.6)
−2.5
(27.5)
1.3
(34.3)
7.1
(44.8)
14.3
(57.7)
15.3
(59.5)
6.7
(44.1)
0.5
(32.9)
−3.8
(25.2)
−7.9
(17.8)
−9.2
(15.4)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 60.1
(2.37)
83.3
(3.28)
137.9
(5.43)
145.9
(5.74)
195.5
(7.70)
404.9
(15.94)
400.8
(15.78)
173.5
(6.83)
170.4
(6.71)
79.4
(3.13)
80.6
(3.17)
53.6
(2.11)
1,985.9
(78.19)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.5 mm) 8.6 9.0 12.4 10.9 11.1 14.4 13.5 10.7 10.6 6.9 7.9 8.2 124.2
Average relative humidity (%) 70 67 67 66 68 75 77 73 72 69 72 71 71
Mean monthly sunshine hours 132.6 139.5 158.5 181.4 187.2 141.0 184.5 211.0 175.9 189.7 153.0 147.5 2,001.8
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[13][14]

Landmarks

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto Castle

The city's most famous landmark is Kumamoto Castle, a large and once extremely well fortified Japanese castle. The donjon (castle central keep) is a concrete reconstruction built in the 1970s, but several ancillary wooden buildings from the original castle remain. The castle was assaulted during the Satsuma Rebellion and sacked and burned after a 53-day siege. It was during this time that the tradition of eating basashi (raw horse meat) originated. Basashi remains popular in Kumamoto and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in Japan, although these days it is usually considered a delicacy.

Within the outer walls of Kumamoto Castle is the Hosokawa Gyobu-tei, the former residence of the Higo daimyō. This traditional wooden mansion has a fine Japanese garden located on its grounds.

Religious sites

The first of many peace pagodas around the world was erected by Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii atop Mount Hanaoka beginning 1947.[15] Inaugurated in 1954, it was the first of over 80 built by Fujii and his followers all over the world.[16]

Kumamoto is also the location of Takahashi Inari Shrine and Fujisaki Hachimangū.

Suizenji area

Kumamoto is home to Suizen-ji Jōju-en, a formal garden neighboring Suizenji Temple approximately 3 kilometers southeast of Kumamoto Castle. Suizenji Park is also home to the Suizenji Municipal Stadium, where the city's football team, Roasso Kumamoto, used to play regularly. The team now uses the larger KKWing Stadium in Higashi Ward.

Other notable sites

Miyamoto Musashi lived the last part of his life in Kumamoto. His tomb and the cave where he resided during his final years (known as Reigandō, or "spirit rock cave") are situated close by. He penned the famous Go Rin no Sho (The Book of Five Rings) whilst living here.

The downtown area has a commercial district centred on two shopping arcades, the Shimotori and Kamitori, which extend for several city blocks. The main department stores are located here along with a large number of smaller retailers, restaurants, and bars. Many local festivals are held in or near the arcades.

Cultural venues include the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art and Kumamoto Prefectural Theater.

Government

Kazufumi Ōnishi has been the city's mayor since December 2014.[17]

Wards

Since April 1, 2012, Kumamoto has five wards (ku):

Wards of Kumamoto
Place Name Map of Kumamoto
Rōmaji Kanji Color
1 Kita-ku 北区 Blue

2 Nishi-ku 西区 Yellow
3 Chuo-ku 中央区 - (administrative center) Purple
4 Higashi-ku 東区 Red
5 Minami-ku 南区 Green

Working mother incident

In November 2017, Kumamoto politician Yuka Ogata was forced to leave the Kumamoto municipal assembly because she had brought her baby.[18] The incident was reported by international media as an example of the challenges facing women in Japan.[19]


Transport

Kumamoto city tram

Local public transport is provided by the Kumamoto City Transportation Bureau. Trams run to a few suburbs near the downtown area. A large bus terminus, called the Kotsu Centre, provides access to both local and intercity destinations. Several local taxi companies serve the Kumamoto metropolitan area and are the only 24-hour public transport in the city.

The JR Kumamoto station provides rail links to Japan's extensive rail network. On March 12, 2011, work on the shinkansen (high-speed bullet train) network was completed, establishing a direct high-speed rail link to Tokyo via Fukuoka's Hakata station.

Kumamoto Airport is located in nearby Mashiki.

Sports

Roasso Kumamoto in J.League is the local football club. Kumamoto Volters of the basketball B.League are based in Kumamoto.

Sporting events

The Kumamoto Castle Marathon is a yearly event in Kumamoto City. It was established in commemoration of Kumamoto becoming a designated city in 2012.[20] The city also hosted the 1997 World Men's Handball Championship.

Education