One of Kumamoto's most famous products is its Higo Inlay or damascene, in which gold, silver, and copper are inlaid on an iron plate to form patterns of flowers, bamboo, and other designs. Originally used to adorn sword guards and armor, damascene today is used on such accessories as paperweights, jewelry, and tie clasps. Another Kumamoto product is the Yamaga lantern, made of gold paper and used during the Yamaga Lantern Festival held in August. Other local products include Amakusa pearls, pottery, knives, toys, and bamboo items.

One place to shop for Higo Inlay, pottery, tea, shochu, sake, and confections is the Display Hall of Kumamoto Products (Kumamoto-ken Bussankan), located on the ground floor of the NTT Building at 3-1 Sakura-machi (tel. 096/353-1168; daily 10am-6:30pm). It's a 1-minute walk west of the Kumamotojo-mae streetcar stop.

The Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center, near Kumamoto Castle at 3-35 Chibajo-machi (tel. 096/324-4930; Tues-Sun 9am-5pm) offers a wider selection of traditional crafts from throughout the prefecture, including Yamaga paper lanterns, Amakusa pearls, bambooware, ceramics, woodworks, toys, musical instruments, and more. It's a 5-minute walk from the Skiyakusho-mae streetcar stop or take Kumamoto Castle Loop Bus to Stop 8.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.