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
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
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.
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
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.
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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