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October 10, 2005

Home again, home again...


I'm finally back from about 2 weeks of traveling. While it was work, it was pretty fun, and there were some good opportunities to see some different parts of Japan.

I've already elaborated a little on the Morioka trip, along with some pictures of Iwate-san (Mt. Iwate). It was really interesting to be so close to an old, dormant volcano. At only just over 2000 meters tall, it's no Fujisan, but compared to everything else around it, it was imposing and beautiful.

Below are a few of the pictures that I took over the past week...mostly, they're of the Kumamoto Castle and Suizenji Gardens.

The next stop (last week) was in Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. About an hour and a half flight from Tokyo, it was a nice change in pace. We got there Friday morning, and pretty much had the afternoon to kill before starting our conference on Saturday. I took that opportunity to wander down to the main attraction in town, Kumamoto-ju (Kumamoto Castle). There's a trolley line that runs downtown, and I hopped aboard. Before long, I was there.

I wandered down the street a short way until I found the entrance, paid my Y500, and started the short trek up to the castle. My first glimpse of it was through a gap in the construction of the walls. Much like the castle in Odawara that I saw back in May, it looked like a huge wedding cake.

Despite its crenellated and rather elegant, almost delicate appearance, it was a pretty strong structure. Over 500,000 stones lined the bermed embankments and walls, the largest of which was over 8 tons. All in all, it was a pretty imposing fort, with turrets (unfortunately few survive today) that dominated all possible avenues of approach to the main building.


The main castle building as seen from a turret (one of the few left) nearby.



Skool Group


Goro's Yoke...Apparently, this really strong kid picked this up. He also tried to assassinate one of the shoguns, but was discovered before he could finish the job. So, he jumped in a well. When the workers started throwing rocks down on him, he just threw them back up. Finally, he said, "if you want to kill me, use gravel." They did, and it worked...not sure I'd have given them the clue, though.


Riverfront property

Names of benefactors

Inside the turret building


I actually got down to the castle twice...once on the first day, and again when our Japanese counterparts took us down there. We actually had a guide that second time, so it was a bit easier to figure stuff out. And, going at different times of the day resulted in slightly different photographs. Needless to say, I didn't mind.

We also went by Suizenji Gardens, which are the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. Fashioned after the waystations along the road to Edo (old Tokyo), it has a number of bridges, and even a replica Mt. Fuji. It was fascinating. The picture at the top of this entry shows the big picture of part of the gardens...



Shinto Shrine

Holy water station...wash up!


Monk shoes...



Of course, it wasn't all fun and sightseeing...we also had to work, and build our relationships with our counterparts. All in all, a productive trip, both work wise and otherwise.

Posted by djf on October 10, 2005 06:51 PM
Category: Dave in Japan
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