Weather: sunny 15°C, high 27°C
Transport: Miyajima 10:20 –> Shin-Tosu 11:47 (Limited Express Kamone 25)
Shin-Tosu 12:05 –> Kumamoto (Tsubame 325)
We didn’t wake up until 8:30 – quite a sleep in for us! We had breakfast in the hotel room of egg and potato salads with bread rolls before packing. When we checked out, the hotel desk phoned for a taxi for us, and we made it to the train station just in time to get the 10:20 train. No time to even reserve seats or get the Nagasaki train station stamp – even though it was right near the platform!
The Kamone seats look comfortable but are actually torturous. Oh well. We changed trains at Shin-Tosu for a beautiful – bent wood seats and gold leaf – and comfy train.
When we arrived at Kumamoto station we first had coffee at a station café. Then we took the tram through the city centre and way out to our stop, Hacchobaba.
We walked to our hotel, which was kinda out in the burbs (even months ago most of the central hotels were sold out, but this one was a short walk from a tram stop). The area was part residential and part full of medical centres. The neighbourhood streets were small but didn’t have much traffic. As we’d grown accustomed to in these sort of streets, there weren’t any footpaths. We wind up walking on that seems to the services ditch that runs along the streets and has removable cement ‘lids’.
We were able to check in as soon as we got to the hotel. It was a SMALL room – basically an entry and the main room was all full of bed – and HOT. We didn’t find the switch for the air conditioning until we got back later (to be honest in the back of my mind while we were out I spent my time really worrying about it). But at least we could leave our stuff and head back out to see a bit of Kumamoto.
We took the tram to the CBD; Eskil loves trams.
We had some trouble finding Starbucks but eventually did (it was on an upper level of a department store – sneeky!). We had a very welcome break after our journey from Nagasaki which set us up to explore! We walked to Kumamoto castle. It has very extensive castle grounds, but the main keep is a reconstruction. To be honest that was a nice change. It looked as fabulous as any castle from the outside, but on the inside it was modern, with informative displays about the castle’s history and original construction methods and easy-to-climb modern staircases. It has two towers, and we climbed both. (The rather sad thing about the photo below is I’ve seen the same view taken in April, and the earthquake has caused a lot of damage.)
Then we ventured into the Honmaru Goten Palace building which had reconstructions of what some of the opulent interiors of the castle would have looked like in all their splendor. As it was built of traditional materials, you had to take shoes off – and in parts the floor were protected by very painful-for-bare feet metal mesh. Ouch!
We ventured a different way out of the castle grounds past large moats and through an area with restaurants, but they seemed more geared for daytime visitors and were closing. But we found Kumamon!
And a schnauzer!
So we wandered into the Ginza district. It was a Wednesday evening, but there were lots of people out and about – very lively. We found good, fast food in a non-prepossessing restaurant – perfect.
We wandered through the arcade a bit, grabbed beer and food for the morning, and headed for the tram stop. There were billions of noisy birds!
We took the tram home and found the AC switch! YEAH! I washed out some undies and socks to keep us going for a few more days, then it was beer time and bed. Not that there was anything we could do other than go to bed; the room WAS the bed.
More photos can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cragg-ohlsson/archives/date-taken/2015/10/07/.