This is a long-overdue second instalment of my trip to Japan some months back.
Continuing our Kyushu adventure from Fukuoka, my parents and I arrived by train to Kumamoto, a castle town with elements of old and new, as can be seen here.
We lived within walking distance of the castle, and I greatly enjoyed my visit there. I love its wide open spaces, and even though the city was just behind the trees it didn’t feel that way within the castle compounds. I was happy to be in nature, away from city buildings.
Here’s where they keep the Higo Irises. Higo is the old name for Kumamoto. The fake plastic crow is rather life-like, I think it is probably an effective method of keeping the crows away. I didn’t see a single one in the immediate area.
We also saw some fruits of sorts in the trees. Not sure what they might be.
I also saw some Oxalis Debilis, also known as Pink Woodsorrel, growing among the rocks.
Here’s another area where seedlings are grown.
Aside from seeing the castle, I was looking forward to seeing the great gingko tree. The original castle was burnt down in 1877 and then rebuilt. I read online that the gingko tree had been burnt as well, but somehow a new shoot appeared and it has grown into the epic tree it is today.
Here’s the great gingko tree. It looks so grand. The castle was also amazing to see up close.
We climbed 6 storeys to the top for an incredible view of the city from all sides. It was a hot summer’s day but there was a comforting breeze that could be felt at the top.
Afterwards, we went to visit the reconstructed inner palace. This wooden porch corridor is called an “engawa”, and it spans 31.5 metres. I love the elaborate and highly detailed painted screens indoors, I’m sure it was changed seasonally, such is the Japanese attention to detail.
We also visited the Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre, which showcased art pieces such as pottery, metal jewellery inlaid with gold, denim, among others, and the premises also has a working space for art activities. I especially enjoyed the courtyard. I sat there with a cup of tea, which they offer to guests on a complimentary basis.
Here are some other sights at the shrines near the castle and crafts centre.
Here’s a mini farmer’s market outside our hotel. We bought some green tea as souvenirs.
Some city sights.
While I was having an orange almond cake and a scone at a cafe, I spotted Rohan Anderson’s book, Whole Larder Love, a pretty nice surprise to find it here. He has an interesting blog on self sufficiency which I enjoy reading. You can see one of his talks on his lifestyle here.
During our stay, we had some washoku cuisine at the hotel we were staying at. I love the view to a Japanese garden, it really enhanced our dining experience, and remains a special memory to me.
After spending two nights here, we went by train to Beppu, known for its hot springs. More on this last leg of my Kyushu journey soon!