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Welcome To KumamotoGo to Slide Show

Welcome to Kumamoto

Eric In Front Of School Erics Building
Flying to Japan will probably be the longest day of your life.  We were up early and at the airport by 9am, a good three hours before our flight.  We flew through the check in gates and started waiting.  We met some nice people in the waiting area - one older couple "saw Canada" in 12 days and 7 flights, Montreal, Niagra Falls, Banff, Jasper and Vancouver.  Kind of made us worry about our iteneary.  Our first flight was Vancouver to Tokyo.  After arriving in Narita, Tokyo, we picked up our rail passes, and took a bus to Haneda airport.  Back on a plane, we flew to Kumamoto and at 9pm local time (5am our time) we stumbled into the arrivals area and met a very welcome face - Hey Eric!

Eric is teaching english as part of the Jet program and he has already been in Japan for a little over a year.  He has a small apartment which fit at least four of us, but does well for Eric.
Stone Entrance
Our first day didn't have any set plans.  Eric to go to school for the day so it was up to us to not get lost.  After seeing Eric off to school, we wandered to the local 7-11 for breakfast (they have lots of fresh food and Japanese snacks) and wandered some of the local shops.  Eventually we found our way to Suizenji-koen Garden.
Tree In Suizeni-koen

Pond In Park
The garden is considered on of the best gardens in Japan.  Walking in you see a large pond with very sculpted grounds just behind.  Unfortunatly, the sky line is dotted with buildings that detract (in my western eyes) from the garden.  

Garden And Pond Temple

The garden features a shrine and great walking circuit.  About half way around we found a practically deserted store selling posters and other tourist trinkets.  The owners made a real effort to comunicate and really made us feel welcome.  I bought post cards, and Mark bought a poster.

One of my favorite parts of the garden is fish.  The pond is stocked with a few karp and they are quite tame.  When people come close to the waters edge, they crowd around looking for food.  

Karp Sucking White Koy Two Koy

Culture Day Float
One of the funny things we ran into in Kumamoto was a parade advertising the upcoming culture day.  The parade was made up of high school students, but most had costumes, and several were cross dressing.  It was funny to see a covent of Japanese witches, but you never know in Japan.

Cross Dressing StudentsScorpion Witches

Kumamoto Castle
One of the high points (literally) of kumamoto is the castle.   The castle was built in 1607 (in just 7 years) and mostly burned down in 1877 when rebels held the castle during the Satsuma rebellion.  A turret (one of the smaller buildings) did survive and is open to tours.

Passage in Turret Us In Front Of CastleCastle walls
The turret

Roof Caps David And Mark At Castle

After our castle tour we walked down the slope and into downtown kumamoto.  Eric and Gabi knew a great Okonomiyaki place so that's where we had dinner.  Okonomiyaki was apparntly invented after the war when the selection of food was strained.  It's basically egg, flour, cabbage, and anything else you can get your hands on.  It comes in two styles - Hiroshima style (where it's layered like a pizza, often on noodles) and Osaka style (where it's mixed up like a pancake).  The place we went to had a grill in the tables and we mixed our own and then cooked our own.  There were a variety of spices and oils available and once cooked, a variety of mayonnaises and sauces to go on top.  Good stuff.

100 Yen StoreAfter dinner we did a bit of exploring.  Like Canadian 1 dollar stores (which generally charge in increments of 1 dollar), Japan has 100 yen stores (about $1.30 Canadian).  The stores have a great selection of housewares (I think we all picked up chopsticks), stationary, a few toys and food.  While checking out, I said in my poor accent "Domo - Argigato"and got the most dramatic "your welcome bow and greeting" I had heard.  Gabi said the workers in 100 yen stores probably are used to being treated so poorly, my somewhat overemphasised thank you would have been out of place.

Eric also wanted to show us the local arcade.  One of the bigger games there was a Taiko drumming game.  You get two sticks and you try to drum to match the script that scrolls by, in time to the music.  Eric is pretty good at the game which makes watching him quite a bit of fun.  Upstairs, they have photo booths - the one we went in takes 15 pictures from 3 different cameras - one high, one mid, one low.  We crowded around trying to get in and make funny faces.  then you go to the second half of the booth and retouch your images.  The software for editing is amazing - you can flood fille the background with patterns, stamp high quality images and draw in a variety of pen styles.  After editing your best 6 pictures, the printer prints and you have your family photos.  Tons of fun.

Eric Taiko DrummingPicture Eding

One of the many things we don't have in Canada is Anime stores.   Eric took us to one of his favorites, a store with a wide selection of TV show spheres, comics, drawing supplies, card games and other toys.

Anime Vending MachinesMark And Eric In StacksArt Supplies
Large Size MangaCards And Toys

Next: Aso Volcano to Oguni Village

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Mark And Eric In Stacks
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Two Koy
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Pond In Park
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Kumamoto Castle
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Cards And Toys
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Erics Building
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Tree In Suizeni-koen
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100 Yen Store
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Culture Day Float
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Castle walls
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Cross Dressing Students
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Garden And Pond
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Anime Vending Machines
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Roof Caps
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Us In Front Of Castle
Person: Andrea, David, Eric, Mark, Sean
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Passage in Turret
Person: David
White Koy
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Art Supplies
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Karp Sucking
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Eric Taiko Drumming
Person: Eric
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Eric In Front Of School
Person: Andrea, David, Eric
Large Size Manga
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Stone Entrance
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Picture Eding
Person: Andrea, David, Eric, Gabi, John, Mark, Sean
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David And Mark At Castle
Person: David, Mark
Tags: castle, Japan
Tags: Japan(22), shopping(5), parade(4), castle(4), Koy(4), costume(3)
People: David(5), Eric(4), Andrea(3), Mark(3), Sean(2), Gabi(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Second Trip to Japan > Welcome To Kumamoto

Wow! This really makes me want to visit Japan! These photos are beautiful.
Prom Dresses
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 at 07:52:47

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