The night was short for me, but not because I had to get up very earl but because I am not used to sleeping with a turned on air conditioner which is why I was rather drenched this morning. After a shower I headed for Tamana to meet up with my friend and her father who would accompany me to Kumamoto and show me around.
Or first stop was the old castle which dominates the city skyline from afar. It is said to be one of the three most beautiful castles and although, just like the castle in Osaka, it is a reconstruction because the old building was burned down during the civil war in the late 19th century, it still looks marvelous. Because of a change of winds during the big fire one part of the old still remains intact and can be accessed. Uto-Yasuga is a very big tower at one corner of Kumamoto castle and the guidebook states that its size can easily compete with some of the main towers of other castles in Japan. The wooden structure is very beautiful and although it was very humid outside again the air in the building itself was very cool and nice.
After the descent from the top we entered a rebuilt part of the castle which was based on archeological research. In the building a small film explained how the house was ressurected in only ten years, in fact t was finished only last year. From there we headed for the main tower which has six floors and was flooded by tourists from Japan and Korea. Actually there are a lot of Koreans touring Kyushu, perhaps because it is so close and can easily reached by plane or ship. Inside the main towers there is a small exhibition explaining the building stages of the fortress and its last days during the civil war. From the top you have a brilliant view over most of the city.
After climbing back down we took a completely different road heading for an okinawan event which was taking place on the outskirts of the city. The father of my friend was, as it seemed, acquianted to one of the organizers so we all went in for free. He paid him back though with lots of alcohol as he had bought a bottle of sake during a small walk through a shop in the center city which offered all local products, from sweets and vegentables to sake and craftwork. The festival was rather small, but a lot of the visitors had already sat down in front of the stage and were waiting for the show to begin. The culture of Okinawa is completely different from the main land (as is the language) which is why the people on the main islands of Japan take so much interest in it. The music itself is very soothing and warm and always reminds me of the ocean, although that might be because I hve sen so many japanese TV dramas set in Okinawa which re always accompanied by the local sound.
While staying at the festival area we drank a lot of alcohol so at one point I went off to grab a soft drink somewhere. I got into a small conversation with one of the vendors who thanked me in english. So when I told him that I was from Germany he was eager to learn the same words in german and once again offered his gratefulness to me in the myther tongue. That was rather funny.
In the evening back at the train station in Kumamoto we all went to have some of the local speciality, ramen. Those noodle soups were not unknown to me as I always thought of them as a very typical japanese dish. But I was reminded that Kumamoto was famous for its ramen so I was eager to try it out. The one I got was very tasty and gave me back some of the energy for the trip back to the hotel.
Tomorrow I will go to my last place on the trip, Hiroshima, were I will hopefully (if it doesn’t rain) go to visit a baseball game for the first time in my life.