Looking in to some of the smaller buildings at the castle
I went away Nagasaki to go to Kumamoto in the middle of Kyushu unfortunately this is one of those parts of Japan which still have not got any shinkansen lines so it takes a while. But I get to Kumamoto central station and get off the train. I start my stay in the city by trying to find a place to stay - hence I call the first number I can find and ask if they got a room for two days. They don’t but I can stay for one night - and I figure why not - the man offers to pick me up at the station in 5 minutes so that’s quite convenient. We drive up the hill to get to the ryokan he is running which got a nice view over the city area.
I get the room and he tells me how I could get around the city using the tram. And then just before I am leaving town he ask me if I want to borrow a bike from him - for free - I think it’s a pretty good deal so I go for it without actually having seen the bike.
The entrance gate
Then we walk out and I see the bike - it is small - it might be even smaller than the tiny bike I used a couple of weeks ago up on Rishiri-to. I get up on the bike and start going - it is quite easy in the beginning on the steep hill going back down towards the train station. Then I actually have to use the pedals to go on. I am heading towards the castle of the city.
I go down to the castle which takes up a large part of the central part of the city. The castle was built from 1601 to 1607 and it was one of the most impressive castles in all of Japan. The castle was built using the best engendering standards of the era but never the less the castle was finally conquered when it was put to the final test during a rebellion in 1877 during the last fighting’s of the Meiji Restoration. During this the castle was burned down - hence the present structures are reconstructed the main tower dating from 1960 when Japan were going through its huge castle reconstruction period.
I spend quite a bit of time on the castle ground going up in the main tower with its museum and magnificent views of the city from the top. Around the castle ground are several other building including some which house some great displays painting on the walls and on the ceiling.
The main castle
After walking around the castle I head down towards the city centre to find some dinner. On the way there are lots of women walking around the traditional yukata used during the summer. They look pretty good in a very classy way in those. It so foreign to the style of dressing I am used to from home.
The last bit of effort for the day is getting back up the hill to the ryokan. It is a harder job getting up than getting down earlier in the day. This is when you really feel the trouble of having a tiny bike - it is virtually impossible to put enough force on the pedals while trying to use the saddle and having bent legs. I finally make it to the top of the hill and from there I can take in the night view of the city and the lights down below the hill.
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