With a population of over 730,000, the Japanese city of Kumamoto is a large center of agriculture, information technology and tourism. The city's size is no cause for concern for expatriates moving to Kumamoto, though. The city is often referred to as "Japan's Undiscovered Pearl" and its cityscape, sights and culture will quickly show expats living in Kumamoto that this is a justified nickname. The city's grand Kumamoto Castle is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful in Japan, while the vast Suizen-ji Jōju-en is a wonderfully landscaped Japanese garden of some 65 hectares. The city has four clear seasons, with subtropical, warm summers and cold winters that may see snow. The city's spring and fall are especially beautiful, with blossoming cherry orchards in March and the end of summer marked by the local Fujisaki Hachimangu Autumn Festival and a number of sporting events to mark the coming of red-leafed October.
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The city is situated to the very south of Japan but, being large, is well connected with good road, rail and air links. Expatriates moving to Kumamoto can fly to Kumamoto Airport from Tokyo, although Japan's train network is renowned the world over for its efficiency and comfort, so you may find this a fun way to enter the city. The center is well served by bus and tram networks and getting to know the city's transport system as an expatriate moving to Kumamoto will be an early task. You might also like to get in touch with other expats in Kumamoto before you arrive, which you can easily do using the forums and private message systems on the InterNations website. This is a great way to get information on the city, but also to network, socialize or even organize an early meet-up with other global minds and expatriates in Kumamoto.
The city's economy is diverse, although expats working in Kumamoto could hardly ask for a better combination than a strong tourism sector, providing a wealth of entertainment and things to do after work, and agriculture, providing great local produce and contributing to a strong local food scene. The city has a cultural buzz about it, with events like the annual Kumamoto Castle Marathon being perfect opportunities for expats to get involved in city life. Although settling in as an expatriate working in Kumamoto constitutes quite a change for many, the city is welcoming, and settling in shouldn't be difficult. You can also read accounts of living abroad by other expats on the InterNations website for hints, anecdotes and an idea of what to expect. For still more information, our Expat Magazine covers topics ranging from expat finance and insurance to family and relationships – this, also on the InterNations website, is another good source of helpful hints for getting the most out of life as an expat working in Kumamoto.