Before the abolition of the Han system in the 1870s by the Meiji Restoration, Kumamoto Prefecture was known as Higo Province. The new name of the prefecture roughly translates to origin of the bear.
The prefecture of Kumamoto is located in the middle of Kyushu, in the southernmost corner of Japan. On one side sits the Ariake Inland Sea and on the other the Amakusa Arhcipelago. Kagoshima Prefecture sits to the south, Miyazaki Prefecture to the east, and Oita Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefecture to the north, making the prefecture largely land bordered. The best known geographic feature in Kumamoto Prefecture is Mt. Aso, an active volcano located in the east portion of the prefecture.
Within Kumamoto Prefecture, there are the following cities:
Also located within Kumamoto Prefecture are the following districts and towns:
The largest economic source in Kumamoto is currently a Honda automobile plant, which recently – in 2007 – expanded to include a solar cell production plant.