city in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan

Hitoyoshi (人吉) is the southernmost city of Kumamoto prefecture, Japan. It is famous for its river fog from late autumn to early spring, kuma shochu spirits, and ayu or sweetfish.

Hitoyoshi City viewed from Hitoyoshi Castle



Tourist information sites


Get in


By train


Hitoyoshi is a terminal stop on the JR Hisatsu Line.

Three Limited Express trains make daily round-trip runs between Kumamoto and Hitoyoshi: The Kawasemi (かわせみ) and the Yamasemi (やませみ). These trains make the run to Hitoyoshi in 90 minutes and cost ¥3190 each way.

Kumamoto connects to Hakata in Fukuoka via Shinkansen (45 minutes; ¥4480). From Kagoshima you can take the Shinkansen to Shin-Yatsushiro, and change to the limited express for Hitoyoshi. Local trains also run from the old Yatsushiro station to Hitoyoshi (70 minutes; ¥1080).

You can also ride the popular Steam Locomotive Hitoyoshi on weekends and some holidays. Unlike most other SL trains in Japan, tickets usually sell out well in advance. You can ride this train using a JR Pass, but you can not reserve a ticket, that will use the pass, until you have been issued your pass (after you are in Japan).

By car


It is 1.5 hours from Kumamoto via the Expressway.

By Bus


From Kumamoto it is 1.5 hours by the bus that goes to Miyazaki via Hitoyoshi or to Kagoshima City. It is 1 hour by bus from Kagoshima Airport

Get around

Hitoyoshi Castle
  • Eikokuji (aka Ghost Temple) (永国寺 (幽霊寺)), 5 Dote-machi (10 minutes-walk from JR Hitoyoshi Station). 08:00-18:00. This temple is famous for a hanging scroll on which is drawn a grim ghost. Jittei Priest, the founder of the temple, drew the ghost of the picture which used to appear by a pond at night. After he showed the picture to the ghost, it never appeared because of its ugly appearance. The pond is behind the temple and there are lots of pond lilies in summer. It's also known for the place Takamori Saigo used as a main camp during the Seinan War. Free.
  • Hitoyoshi Castle trace (人吉城跡), Fumoto-machi (10 minute-walk from JR Hitoyoshi station). 08:30-17:00. Historical building and place to see cherry blossom with a view of Kuma river and town from the heights.
  • Hitoyoshi hot springs (人吉温泉), Near JR Hitoyoshi station (Get off at Hitoyoshi IC - it's about 2 km and takes 5 minutes from Hitoyoshi IC). Simple spa, Carbonic acid hydrogen spa, 40~50 °Celsius.
  • Hitoyoshi Craft Park Ishino Koen (人吉クラフトパーク石野公園), Akaikehara-machi 1425–1 (Get off the train at JR Hitoyoshi station and walk for 5 minutes to Hitoyoshi bus terminal. You'll get on a bus to Yunomae for 15 minutes. Then get off the bus at the bus stop in front of the park). 9:00-16:30. Traditional handiworks and the specialties in Hitoyoshi and demonstrate some of them. You can also make them. There are seven plants; a place for making cutlery, a plant that yo can see the process to make Shochu or Japanese alcohol, a traditional cultural industrial place, a papermaking plant, a carpentry plant, ceramics plant and a teahouse in the Japanese garden. These are samurai-style premises. There are also an observatory and amusements for children. \200.
  • Kuma River cruise (Kumagawa Kudari) (球磨川下り). 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00. Departs from downtown Hitoyoshi three times a day. You sit in an old style Japanese boat and cruise downstream the Kuma river with a commentary in Japanese. The ride is relaxed and tranquil except for the odd rapids. You can pay for your car to be driven to where you disembark. It is a short drive back to Hitoyoshi. Rafting is also available. \3000.
  • Mukashi Mukashi (むかしむかし) (Very close to Hitoyoshi Craft Park - drive toward Hitoyoshi City from the park, you can see Mukashi Mukashi on your right in 3 minutes). Perfect place to buy traditional Japanese stuff. And what's the best is most of the items are very reasonable. You can also just enjoy watching the displays of ceramic arts, china, kimono, old toys and more! They also sell various kinds of coffee beans and teas. Free coffee is always served for the customers.
  • Kijiya (きじや), Kijiya-machi 2522 (20 minute-drive from JR Hitoyoshi station). 11:00-21:00, closed We. This is a special restaurant to serve pheasant dishes. There are few restaurants to serve them in Japan. You can eat fresh meat of pheasants because they raise the pheasants by themselves. There are grilled meat, pheasant rice, sliced raw meat and so on. You can eat pheasant nabe in winter.


  • Hananoki (花の木), Shichiji-machi 888–6 (10 minute-drive from JR Hitoyoshi Station). You can enjoy your teatime looking at Kuma river and beautiful nature. Inside of the building is quiet and made of wood. Fresh banana and strawberry shake is popular.



Many of the hotels with hot springs are along the Kuma river.

  • Hotel Sun Hitoyoshi (ホテルサン人吉), Kamiaoi-machi 166 (5-minute walk from JR Hitoyoshi Station). Ayu dishes and French food are delicious in this hotel. Golf course.
  • Ayu-no-sato (あゆの里), Kokonoka-machi 30 (10-minute walk from JR Hitoyoshi Station). This hotel on the Kuma gawa riverside and has an ancient cypress spa thought to be good for rheumatism. Ayu or sweetfish dishes is served in summer and autumn. You can eat wild boar nabe in winter. Fishing.
  • Hotel Hananosho (華の荘), Komeyama 3316, Higashiaida-machi (10-minute drive from JR Hitoyoshi Station). Inside of the building has an antique atmosphere. There's a hot spring outside and view of the town. Tennis courts and golf.
  • Hitoyoshi Ryokan (人吉旅館), 160 Aoi-Cho (5-minute drive from JR Hitoyoshi Station). The ryokan is on the Kuma river. It is a beautiful, traditional building surrounding a central courtyard garden. English is well spoken by several staff members. The food specializes in Ayu and game (boar, pheasant, venison). The ryokan has hot baths and offers a large range of shochu (spirits).

Go next

Routes through Hitoyoshi
KumamotoYatsushiro  N   S  EbinoKagoshima

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