Day 11: Kumamoto-jo : a rainy castle

Trip Start Apr 08, 2010
Trip End May 06, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kyushu-Okinawa,
Monday, April 19, 2010

For our last day on Miyajima island, it started very well with a delicious japanese style breakfast (see the post about Ryoso Kawaguchi ryokan). We checked out around 9:00 and took the ferry back to Hiroshima, and the train to Hiroshima station.

The destination of the day is Kumamoto, on Kyushu island. Kyushu is the most western island of the archipelago of Japan, and Kumamoto is one of the biggest city on the island after Fukuoka.
Going to Kumamoto is pretty easy, especially with a JR pass: at Hiroshima station, you take a Shinkansen Hikari Railstar to Hakata (Fukuoka's shinkansen station), and there you change train and take a Ltd. Express Ariake to Kumamoto. The journey from Hiroshima is less than 3h long.

When we arrived in Kumamoto, it was raining :-(
We took the tram to go to the Dormy Inn Hotel, which is a modern and clean business hotel downtown Kumamoto. We left our luggage there and, despite the weather, we decided to go and visit one of the most famous attractions of the city: Kumamoto-jo, the castle of Kumamoto.

Indeed, when we initially planned our trip in Japan, we wanted to make a stop at what may be the most beautiful japanese castle: Himeji-jo. But it turned out that the castle would be closed to visitors from April 12th, for 2 years of reparation work. It was a big disappointment, but we changed our plans accordingly.

Kumamoto was thus a good opportunity to see a japanese castle. There is a big difference between the 2 castles though: Himaji-jo is an "original" one, as Kumamoto-jo has been entirely reconstructed. From the outside, you could not say that Kumamoto-jo is not an old building. It is a beautiful, and massive building wich really looks like original (at least to our eyes). But when you entire it, you discover concrete staircase and foundations! It is a bit weird and looks like a movie set or a disneyland attraction…

Still, the park where the castle sits, and the outside of the building are very impressive and make it worth visiting.
Moreover, apart from the architecture of the building itself, the inside was turned into a museum, and you can find many original samurai outfits, explanations and paintings of the original castles…etc.

Anyway, this was a perfect destination to spend this rainy afternoon!

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