Kumamoto

Wow, I haven’t updated this in nearly a month!  I blame the end of summer vacation and the commencement of the second semester of school.  I’ve been busy lesson planning as well as trips.  I have so much to tell but I’d like to backtrack a bit to talk about my trip to Kumamoto in August!  It was basically my “big” summer trip.

In case my traveling plans with my friends fell apart, I had a fallback plan where I would visit my friend who was living in Kumamoto.  Kumamoto is in Kyushu, the southern region in Japan. I took the Sakura Shinkansen which took around 3 and a half hours.

The Shinkansen is always a great ride:

Compared to Osaka, Kumamoto is a very quiet place.  Even during the evening, it isn’t as lively as Osaka.  It’s a good change because I hate trying to weave through thick crowds plus it feels like you’re drowning in heat because there’s so many people in one spot.

This picture would be full of people if it were in Osaka:

Recently, Kumamoto created a mascot called Kumamon. Kumamon is everywhere in Kumamoto.  Apparently, no one owns the name so any restaurant, store, or even bar can use him image.  You will see just about every type of souvenir with Kumamon:

 

 

The first place I visited was Kumamoto Castle.  Kumamoto Castle is huge and has more things to check out compared to Osaka Castle.  I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area:

 

Suizenji Garden is also another great place to visit.  It’s a pretty big garden with very pretty ponds.  It definitely has a Zen feel to it.  I wish I had an area like this back home:

While I was in the area, I also took a walk around Lake Ezu.  It looks like this lake was the place to fish, swim, or go on a boat ride.  It reminded me a lot of Como Lake back home:

Lake Ezu’s paddleboats were definitely a lot cooler compare to Como Lake’s:

I went to a cat café for the first time here.  It’s pretty much what you think it is; one drinks various drinks while you play with lots of cats.   As a fan of cats, I was pleased:

 

 

The last thing I did was ride on the Aso-Boy.  I was originally supposed to climb Mt. Aso, an active volcano but we were unable to catch the bus on time.  The Aso Boy was just as fun though; it’s a train that’s decorated with Kuro, this cute puppy character.  You ride the train for a couple of hours and get a scenic ride around Kumamoto.

This is what the outside looks like:

And the inside:

Kids and people would wave at you whenever they saw the train passed.  It was pretty cute.  The scenic cars were great as well!  Here’s some scenic shots while on the train:

The station we got off at was pretty quiet.  Before we had to go back, we checked out this ghost temple called Eikokuji.  Supposedly there was a ghost who haunted the lily pond behind the lake but a priest named Jittei Osho talked to the ghost and showed a picture of her through a scroll.  The female ghost was so disgusted by her appearance that she vanished.  The plants that grow around the pond are said to be a blessing by the former ghost as a token of appreciation. It’s a pretty neat story and place to visit:

The story of the ghost temple:

The actual scroll of the ghost:

The pond where the ghost would appear in:

For a backup plan, Kumamoto was really fun.  While it wasn’t a foreign country, I was happy how it turned out.

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