The Chikugo River runs through the city from the northeast to the southwest. You can enjoy picking grapes and persimmons in the eastern part of the city. Also, the world-famous tire maker Bridgestone was founded here, hence rubber-processing factories are dotted throughout the city. Kurume has become the third-largest city in Fukuoka Prefecture. Traditional Japanese craft products such as Kurume-gasuri (indigo cotton fabric with white splashed patterns) are widely produced here.
The Ishibashi Cultural Center was donated to Kurume City by the late founder of Bridgestone, Ishibashi Shojiro (1889-1976). On the vast premises of this center are Ishibashi Culture Hall, which is good for music concerts and conferences, and Ishibashi Museum of Art along with its annex. There are also a Japanese-style garden, pond, former atelier of painter Sakamoto Hanjiro, lawn garden, and public library on this site.
In the Ishibashi Museum of Art, works of Japanese-style painters such as Aoki Shigeru and Sakamoto Hanjiro, both of who were from Kurume, are exhibited.
Camellia trees have for centuries been cultivated at the northern foot of the Mino mountain ranges in the east of Kurume. Some trees are believed to be more than 300 years old and are still in very good condition. You can find old and historic trees of camellia in shrines and temples, or even in the gardens of private houses. In March 2010, the International Camellia Congress and Japan Camellia Summit will be held simultaneously in Kurume. In the 3ha premises of Kurume Camellia Garden, the main venue of these summits, 200 camellia trees of 500 species are beautifully planted.
Recently, Kurume has been drawing more attention as a class-B gourmet town. There are many yakitori (grilled chicken) bars in the town, and yakitori has become one of Kurume’s leading food cultures. Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen noodles are the best known of Kyushu’s ramen varieties. Its characteristic is thin noodles and thick white soup, made by cooking pork bones for hours and hours. Kurume is said to be the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen and there are many good ramen shops in the city.