The enigmatic Kumamoto Castle. Some walls were damaged by the earthquake, the castle itself was largely okay.
Nickname: Gingko Castle ==> because it is next to a gigantic Gingko Tree
Tale of the gigantic gingko tree… When Lord Kiyomasa Kato, the guy who commissioned Kumamoto Castle, was at his death bed, he predicted that when the gingko tree grew to as tall as the castle, there would be a havoc that set loose. He passed away in 1611. The tiny gingko grew to gigantic height… Seinan war 1877
The official castle tour was run by a group of actors fully dressed in armor / traditional Japanese fashion – Omotenashi Samurai Team. Seriously, they’re dressed like the historical people who used to live in Kumamoto castle or had some strong links to it. For more information – http://kumamoto-bushoutai.com/ **Japanese only. The tour was free of charge (well, no additional on top of the castle entrance fees) The tour was about an hour long.
The tour guides were EXTREMELY knowledgeable and the amount of vocab that was needed to fully appreciate the tour was madness. For starters, all those different warlords names and various historical war names?
Near the castle, there was a Cherry Blossom Street, Josaien Sakura-no-kohji, think TONS of souvenir shops, food and tourism stores. Lots of kumamon products. He was EVERYWHERE. I mean like soy sauce, cup noodles, alcohol, toilet paper, bags, sanitary towels… Did you know that a Japanese mascot is a real full time job? Kumamon has its own office and TV channel. Here is the official site link if you’re curious – Kumamon Square. You can actually meet with Kumamon at his office. Check his office hours before visiting.
The Wakuwaku Za (historical culture experience facility), the name roughly translate to ‘excitement house’, was very interesting and I highly recommend it. Very difficult for photography, the lighting was very awkward? The museum had lots of ‘experience’ offering. E.g. dress up in armor, carriage ride, old time castle streets, virtual reality, 1600s Kumamoto meal… etc Due to the terrible lighting, I looked like I was filming The Ring. To save you from my accidental horror photos, I choose not to post those photos.
How to get here?
Kumamoto Castle – official site
Entrance fees: JPY500 / adult
Closest JR station Kami-Kumamoto
Walked there and it was like 15min-ish.
There’s a special ‘cruise bus’ – Shiromegurin. It covers a lot of nearby tourism points. Pretty convenient. The bus starts from Kumamoto Station & the day pass tickets comes with discount admission to several facilities.
Single fare JPY 150, One day pass JPY400
**free for SunQ bus pass holders.
Personally, I like to do everything on foot if it is within 30min distance.
Please donate to Kumamoto Castle funds if you have the means; this link is the official Kumamoto castle home page, do not donate to random sites. Kumamoto castle, although not a complete 1600s original, is a breathtaking master piece of history. The stone wall that was breached was an original… (sad) 400 years old.
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