Castles Japan Kumamoto Kyushu War History

    Kumamoto Castle, Under Construction

    June 12, 2017

    “Please visit Kumamoto Castle,” my colleague urged when I told her we’d be driving through Kumamoto City on the way back from Nagasaki during the Golden Week holidays. The popular tourist attraction is Japan’s third-largest castle, after Osaka Castle and Nagoya Castle. It is especially well known for its expansive grounds, numerous buildings, and more than 500 cherry trees that make it a popular hanami spot in the spring.

    Since last year, Kumamoto-jō has become even more iconic after surviving extensive damage during the April 2016 earthquakes that killed 50 people and left thousands injured and trapped under collapsed buildings.

    As a result of the tremors, roof tiles fell from the castle, the outer walls collapsed, and the foundation was damaged. Several of the castle’s shachihoko ornaments, an animal from Japanese folklore hung on roofs to protect buildings from fire, were also destroyed.

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  • Fukuoka Japan Kyushu

    Yanagawa: The City of Water

    “Aaa-eeh,” the punter sang, “tsukino dokoromo hatsukano yamimoe.” His throat danced around a different note for each of the syllables of the old Japanese poem. The sun was beating down, making me wish we…

    May 30, 2017
  • Japan Kyushu Nagasaki

    Glover Garden and Dejima Island

    On top of Minami-yamate, a gorgeous hillside overlooking Nagasaki Harbour, sits Glover Garden (グラバー園), an open-air museum of the homes of former Western residents of the city, who settled there after the end of Japan’s…

    May 16, 2017
  • Japan Kyushu Nagasaki

    Inside Japan’s Dutch Theme Park

    I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Netherlands, partly due to my Dutch ancestry but mostly because of my love of cheese and other edibles. So when Golden Week began approaching, an annual string of public holidays, and Austin and…

    May 11, 2017
  • New York USA

    Touring Niagara, Part 2: French Castle

    “It’s snowing!” I yelled excitedly over my shoulder, peeking through the curtains. “Oh yeah?” my sister responded with mild disinterest. You’d swear she never grew up in Johannesburg. The fluffy white stuff still excites…

    February 15, 2017
  • Festivals Japan Kyushu Miyazaki Onsen

    The Nishimera Gibier Festival

    “You ate what?” Maria-san asked with surprise. “Wild boar and deer.” She scrunched up her nose in disgust, “Urgh…really?” “Yeah, it was delicious!” “Oh no,” she frowned unconvinced, “I’ve never tried it.” Maria is…

    February 6, 2017