Saturday, 30 April 2016

Kumamoto Castle and Ramen

When you mention Kumamoto to a Japanese, they immediately tell you about Kumamon - the black bear famously created by the prefecture government of Kumamoto as their mascot. Then of course there is the Kumamoto Castle as well as the tasty Kumamoto style ramen.

We visited Kumamoto in December of 2015 and since then, Kumamoto has been rocked by earthquakes in April 2016. I wish them a speedy recovery and hope that many more visitors will visit Kumamoto to help them in their recovery.

Kumamoto is accessible by the Kyushu Shinkansen from Hakata and the direct service gets you there is about half an hour. The main attraction is the Kumamoto Castle which is about 15 minutes ride on the tram from the Kumamoto Station. You will have to walk towards the east entrance through an underpass and when you exit the train station, you will see the Tram Station about 50 metres ahead. Take Tram A and the cost will be JPY150 per person. Get off at the Kumamotojo-mae Tram Station. The walk from this station to the Hazekata Gate is about 10 minutes. Enjoy the morning walk towards the castle.

It is best to enter via this gate rather than the main Honmaru-goten Gate. Enjoy the tranquility of the garden and the Uto Turrent before heading to the main palace.

As you enter the castle grounds, a sense of tranquility embraces you. The grounds are pristine as one would expect of a castle.

The best part of coming through the "back" gate is the quietness of this area. Visitors tend to go straight to the main castle leaving the various turret towers and castle ground virtually empty.

Gina standing by the granite steps.

This is one of the turret towers closer to the back entrance.

Then you walk towards the main castle and the view is stunning.

Walk up a flight of steps and the view of the castle greets you. Majestic!

This is one of the turret towers facing (and protecting) the main castle.

Walk around and the hustle and bustle of the main castle is evident.

You might need to remove your shoes when you enter some of the turrets. But for the walk into the castle, it is fine. On one of the floors, a wooden replica of the castle.

Gina by the castle grounds. The bench is specifically placed there for photograph shots.

Another view from the side of the castle.

As you walk out to the main gates, you will walk through a dark tunnel which is supported by wooden beams.

We made it back first and ended at the front gates. But that was a blessing.

Admission to the Castle is JPY500 per person. To return to the Kumamoto Station, take the same Tram A in the opposite direction.

I do wish all the Kumamoto residence well. I understand the Kumamoto Castle was damaged in the earthquake so I hope they can restore the castle to its former glory.

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