Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Kumamoto

04/28/04

Home
Archives
What's new
Kumamoto
Our apartment
School
Shopping in Japan
Driving in Japan
Trips outside Japan
Trips in Japan
Adventures in Japan
JET Programme
Photos
Links
Engrish
Want to hear from us?

 

We live in Kumamoto City, the prefectural capital.  There are about 700,000 people in Kumamoto City, which makes it a medium sized city by Japanese standards.  Kumamoto is a castle town with one of the top three castles in Japan, right downtown.  It's famous for its steep curved walls, and elaborate layout.  With over one hundred wells, and many ginko trees it was designed to withstand a long siege.  However, during the Meiji Restoration of the 19th century, a crew of disgruntled samurai from Kagoshima prefecture came up to Kumamoto and burnt down much of the original castle.  The main keep was destroyed, but some parts survived.  Around the 1960's the whole castle was reconstructed out of ferro-concrete, and although it isn't as impressive as the original would have been, it is still remarkable because of it's huge size.  Osaka castle is another famous castle in Japan, but after touring it, we believe Kumamoto castle is much nicer and more pleasant.  The best castle we have seen in Japan is Himeji castle is Hyogo prefecture, near Kobe.  It is an original castle which never experienced a siege.  The main keep is made of thick timber and has a really neat feel.

Kumamoto is also famous for Mount Aso, the world's largest caldera.  The last major eruption, about 100,000 years ago, must have been spectacular as it has left a crater over 80 km in circumference.  There are towns, railways, hot springs, and farms all located within the outer caldera.  A large part of Mount Aso has been designated a National Park and it is nice to hike through the thick grassy fields and see cows grazing.  And, in the winter, people from the city flock to its hills and slopes to go sledding and play in the snow.

To the west of Kumamoto City lie the islands of Amakusa, "Heaven's grass", which are linked to the mainland by a series of five bridges.  Christianity originally flourished in Amakusa and nearby Nagasaki until the 18th century when the government of Japan closed Japan up to the world, and a small island in Nagasaki City was the only port open to foreigners in Japan.  Because the Japanese government was so concerned about the spread of Christianity, only a small number of Dutch merchants were allowed to stay on this artificial island, and only Japanese merchants and prostitutes were allowed to visit them.  Amakusa has some decent beaches, scuba diving, and dolphin watching.

For more info and pictures on Kumamoto prefecture, then click here.

 

 

Home | Archives | What's new | Kumamoto | Our apartment | School | Shopping in Japan | Driving in Japan | Trips outside Japan | Trips in Japan | Adventures in Japan | JET Programme | Photos | Links | Engrish | Want to hear from us?

This site was last updated 04/28/04