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'rents day 4.

Sorry for the late updates, i have had like zero free time the last few days.

Yesterday I took the day off and rented a car. I took my parents down south to Kumam0to to show them the famous Kumam0to Castle and Suizenji gardens.

My dad and I in front of the car. It was a good deal (for Japan), only ~$40 for a same day rental (check out at 8am, return by 8pm). This works cause we're staying at my house rather than paying for hotels, so no sense in keeping the car overnight (and having to pay another $10 for parking).

Since there were three of us, taking a car actually was much cheaper than taking the express train, Tsubame, down from my place, it would have been ~$45 each.

We got a Mazda Deimo, which had an integrated navigation system. It even had a remote control for inputting the destination. I sort of figured out how to work it. The robo voice lady yells at you in Japanese and tells you when to turn. It also figures out when you're on the highway and does this three-D map showing the upcoming exits. Fancier than the few US based navigation experiences I've had.

We got a nice picture with the guard guys at the back gate of the castle.

Last time I came with Junko there were ninja guys taking pictures with visitors, this time they had a 'feudal costume' group.

The two guys have the Hosokawa clan's crest on their laminated paper headgear. The one on the left is the field army outfit (not to be confused w/ the battle armor suit...)

They had a place you could try on different outfits and take pictures for FREE (which is a rare treat indeed in this country). These two kids, in their sneakers did Ninjas... I should have done it too... :-P

When I came here in February they had just started rebuilding one of the original grounds buildings next to the main castle. Now the main building in this restoration is mostly complete! they have a team of dozens of workers going full blast on the project. The idea is to have it all done by 2007, the 400th anniversary of the castle. You'll note the ISO safety standards are in effect. I wonder how long it takes to rebuild this thing, with power tools, a giant metal roof and overhead cranes compared to building it originally the old skool way.

Ah, but the view from the construction observation deck gives a nice view of the main castle building (rebuilt in the 1960's after being destroyed in the Seinan rebellion in 1877...)

We hiked to the top, which took a lot of proding of my elderly parents. Looking down on the 'Feudal dress-up crew' who were milling about with no tourists to harrass...

Yes, that is the world famous

A view down the 'Long Wall', comprising outside of the inner castle walls. That used to be the mote down there.

Next up we went to Suizenji park, which used to belong to one of the local feudal lords, its one of the main historical japanese gardens left:

The landscaping is supposed to represent different famous parts of Japan I think.

They had some crazy huge coi... like 18" long and probably weighing ~10 pounds! Also some wildfowl and at least one turtle.

There's a shrine too, where the remains of the Hosokawa lords was enshrined and worshipped as gods in the Shinto religion.

Like Ritsuin park, that I visited in Takamatsu last spring, this one had a nice tea room facing the lake that you could chill in.

We drove back up to Fuku0ka and hit up C0stco for dinner and a supply run before I had to return the car. We have another one reserved for monday morning, we're going to go to Mt. As0, the huge volcano not too far from Kumam0to.

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April 13, 2007