area guide

Tsunagi Town

Tsunagi Town
Citrus and Art in Southern Kumamoto

With a population of around 4,500, Tsunagi Town is located in southern Kumamoto Prefecture. It is a beautiful town on the calm Yatsushiro Sea with abundant citrus groves dotting its hillsides. Tsunagi has been working on “Community Building Through Art”, an art-based initiative to reinvigorate the region in the wake of Minamata disease. Additionally, through a community farm, it aims to promote natural farming that uses as little pesticides and fertilizer as possible.

Prefecture Kumamoto Prefecture
Local Specialties By car: About 1 hour and 30 minutes from Kumamoto City, about 3 hours from Fukuoka City By train: Transfer to the Hisatsu Orange Railway at JR Shin-Minamata Station. Tsunagi Station is one station away. * Rental cars and bicycles are available in front of JR Shin-Minamata Station.
Specialties Citrus fruits (e.g., Shiranui, Amanatsu, Sweet Spring), vegetables (e.g., salad onions), seafood (e.g., cutlass fish, daggertooth pike conger), sake
Recommended Spots

Tsunagi’s “Community Building Through Art” initiative has been around since 1984 and includes several sculptures and outdoor art installations to see throughout the town. You also won’t want to miss the restaurants that make use of the abundant local seafood and mountain produce, as well as the sake brewery and confectionary shop.


Maizuru Castle Park

Chohangan is a unique rock formation in the center of Tsunagi with a Japanese flag planted on top. Due to its strategic location, Maizuru Castle was built here as a natural fortress in the late 14th century and was ruled by various feudal lords including members of the Shimazu Clan and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The castle was abandoned in the 17th century when the Shogunate issued the one castle per province decree, and the site where it stood is now a park where locals come to relax. The mountaintop park is accessible by monorail. When you get off, the first thing you will see is a sculpture by Yuzo Iwano. The park also offers a panoramic view of the Yatsushiro Sea(Shiranui Sea) and the town below.
View of the Tsunagi townscape and the Yatsushiro Sea(Shiranui Sea) from Maizuru Castle Park
“Bokka” by Yuzo Iwano

Art Projects with Local Participation

Tsunagi has been promoting art-based community development initiatives since 1984 as a way to revitalize the town in the wake of Minamata disease. The town opened the Tsunagi Art Museum to serve as a hub for these initiatives in 2001, and since then, various art projects have been carried out in a collaborative effort between leading artists and local residents. There are several permanent installations throughout Tsunagi including the “Inn of Souls” and “Stone Spirit Forest” by Yukinori Yanagi, “Tatzu Butzu” by Tatzu Nishi, and “Tsunagu” by Yuka Ohira. Every year from September 26th of the Lunar calendar, an installation called “Sea Crossing” is exhibited as a revival of a festival that was close to being abandoned.
“Umiwatari(Sea Crossing)” by Yasuaki Igarashi
“Tsunagu” by Yukari Ohira

Protecting local treasures for posterity with organic cultivation methods

The Tsunagi Farm project is carried out to preserve the region’s abundance of natural beauty and make sure the town’s children inherit the right kind of food in the future. It focuses on cultivating agricultural products in an environmentally-friendly way, by employing organic methods and using as little fertilizer and pesticides as possible. Under this project, study sessions led by experts are held along with cooking classes and practical agriculture training programs, and produce including citrus fruits, salad onions, and avocados are grown. In a hands-on agricultural project implemented with Tsunagi Junior High School, students are involved in every step of the farming process, from growing daikon radishes, processing them into kanzuke pickles (a local specialty), designing the packaging, and selling. The farm also runs a market called Tsunagi Hyakkodo(Tsunagi Store), which aims to sell safe and healthy agricultural products and processed foods.
Shiranui citrus fruits covered with protective bags by local children
An amanatsu farmer speaks to children