Welcome To Kumamoto
Welcome to Kumamoto
to Japan will probably be the longest day of your life. We were up
early and at the airport by 9am, a good three hours before our flight.
We flew through the check in gates and started waiting. We
met some nice people in the waiting area - one older couple "saw
Canada" in 12 days and 7 flights, Montreal, Niagra Falls, Banff, Jasper
and Vancouver. Kind of made us worry about our iteneary.
Our first flight was Vancouver to Tokyo. After arriving in
Narita, Tokyo, we picked up our rail passes, and took a bus to Haneda
airport. Back on a plane, we flew to Kumamoto and at 9pm local
time (5am our time) we stumbled into the arrivals area and met a very
welcome face - Hey Eric!
Eric is teaching english as part of the Jet program and he has already
been in Japan for a little over a year. He has a small apartment
which fit at least four of us, but does well for Eric.
Our first day didn't have any
set plans. Eric to go to school for the day so it was up to us to
not get lost. After seeing Eric off to school, we wandered to the
local 7-11 for breakfast (they have lots of fresh food and Japanese
snacks) and wandered some of the local shops. Eventually we found
our way to Suizenji-koen Garden.
The garden is considered on of the best
gardens in Japan. Walking in you see a large pond with very
sculpted grounds just behind. Unfortunatly, the sky line is dotted
with buildings that detract (in my western eyes) from the garden.
The garden features a shrine and great walking circuit. About
half way around we found a practically deserted store selling posters and
other tourist trinkets. The owners made a real effort to
comunicate and really made us feel welcome. I bought post cards,
and Mark bought a poster.
One of my favorite parts of the garden is fish. The pond is
stocked with a few karp and they are quite tame. When people come
close to the waters edge, they crowd around looking for food.
One of the funny things we ran into in
Kumamoto was a parade advertising the upcoming culture day. The
parade was made up of high school students, but most had costumes, and
several were cross dressing. It was funny to see a covent of
Japanese witches, but you never know in Japan.
One of the high points
(literally) of kumamoto is the castle. The castle was built in
1607 (in just 7 years) and mostly burned down in 1877 when rebels held
the castle during the Satsuma rebellion. A turret (one of the
smaller buildings) did survive and is open to tours.
After our castle tour we walked down the slope and into downtown
kumamoto. Eric and Gabi knew a great Okonomiyaki place so that's
where we had dinner. Okonomiyaki was apparntly invented after the
war when the selection of food was strained. It's basically egg,
flour, cabbage, and anything else you can get your hands on. It
comes in two styles - Hiroshima style (where it's layered like a pizza,
often on noodles) and Osaka style (where it's mixed up like a pancake).
The place we went to had a grill in the tables and we mixed our
own and then cooked our own. There were a variety of spices and
oils available and once cooked, a variety of mayonnaises and sauces to go
on top. Good stuff.
dinner we did a bit of exploring. Like Canadian 1 dollar stores
(which generally charge in increments of 1 dollar), Japan has 100 yen
stores (about $1.30 Canadian). The stores have a great selection
of housewares (I think we all picked up chopsticks), stationary, a few
toys and food. While checking out, I said in my poor accent "Domo
- Argigato"and got the most dramatic "your welcome bow and greeting" I
had heard. Gabi said the workers in 100 yen stores probably are
used to being treated so poorly, my somewhat overemphasised thank you
would have been out of place.
Eric also wanted to show us the local arcade.
One of the bigger games there was a Taiko drumming game. You
get two sticks and you try to drum to match the script that scrolls by,
in time to the music. Eric is pretty good at the game which makes
watching him quite a bit of fun. Upstairs, they have photo booths
- the one we went in takes 15 pictures from 3 different cameras - one
high, one mid, one low. We crowded around trying to get in and
make funny faces. then you go to the second half of the booth and
retouch your images. The software for editing is amazing - you can
flood fille the background with patterns, stamp high quality images and
draw in a variety of pen styles. After editing your best 6
pictures, the printer prints and you have your family photos. Tons
One of the many things we don't have in Canada is Anime
stores. Eric took us to one of his favorites, a store with a
wide selection of TV show spheres, comics, drawing supplies, card games
and other toys.
Tags: Japan(22), shopping(5), parade(4), castle(4), Koy(4), costume(3)
People: David(5), Eric(4), Mark(3), Andrea(3), Sean(2), Gabi(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Second Trip to Japan > Welcome To Kumamoto
Wow! This really makes me want to visit Japan! These photos are beautiful.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 at 07:52:47
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:42:29 Edit
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