Kyushu Photo Blog

5 01 2010

My apologies for the irregular postings over the last few months.  Between the parental unit invasion and travel I’ve hardly been on the internet.  But I finally got around to sorting out my photos from Kyushu, and without further ado, here’s the photographic evidence. (warning, very image heavy!)

Day one in Nagasaki:

Oura Catholic Church, which is Japan’s oldest standing wooden church.

Glover Garden, a garden that is the home to 7 western style residences from the Meiji period.

Kakuni Manju, BBQ pork in a steamed bun.  Very very yummy!

Dejima is the island where Dutch traders were allowed to trade with the Japanese during the Tokugawa period.  Due to the Shogun closing Japan to westerners, Dejima was built to allow trade with the Dutch to continue.  Over the years the island was lost to reclaimed land, but recently the island and the buildings have been restored.  I found Dejima to be really fascinating.

Saru Udon

Champon, a Nagasaki speciality, is a cross between Japanese and Chinese food.  Many of the dishes in Kyushu have Chinese influences.

Day Two in Nagasaki:

A visit to the Peace Park, which is just up the road from the hypocenter of the atomic bomb blast.

Here is the monument (on the right) which marks the hypocenter, and a piece of the Urakami Cathedral that survived the bomb blast.  The Atomic bomb museum is only a short walk from here, and really, I can’t use words to describe it.  Going to a museum like this is one of the most sobering and somber experiences you can have.  If you have the chance, go!

Another relic of the bomb blast, the other half of this Torii gate was knocked down by the explosion.


Nagasaki City night view, said to be one of the three best in Japan.  Here you can see Nagasaki Station in the center of the picture.

Day 3 from Nagasaki to Kumamoto via Shimabara:

We caught the train from Nagasaki to Shimabara this day, and had a quick look around Shimabara Castle.  Shimabara is the peninsula where many Japanese Christians were killed in a revolt, and the castle had many relics of hidden Christians in the area on display.  However, the castle was nothing compared to the one at Kumamoto, so I won’t post any photos apart from this –

A Shimabara food, Rokobe Manju, a black steamed bun with sweet potato inside.

After that we went to the ferry and were in Kumamoto by sundown.

Day 4 in Kumamoto:

We started out by going to Kumamoto Castle, which was built by Kato Kiyomasa (above).

A castle turret with the walls of Nimaru and Honmaru (inner and second circle of the grounds).

A close up of the stone walls.

The main tower of the castle.

View from the main tower, looking at the reconstructed palace.

The guided meeting room of the lord of the castle (inside the palace).

Although a lot of the building are reconstructed, there are a few originals, and plenty to see.  We literally spent all morning there, and didn’t even realize we had missed lunch!

Next off to Suizenji Jojuen garden, which was first started in 1632, and depicts the 53 stations of the old Tokaido highway.  You can even see a miniature Mt Fuji.

Dinner that night was Kumamoto ramen.

Firstly Tonkotsu ramen.

Then a salt flavored broth.

And finally a Chinese style simmered pork on rice.  All very very yum!

Day 5 in Kumamoto:

We wanted to make a day trip to Aso, but unfortunately the weather didn’t agree with us, and instead we went to the Former residence of Hosokawa Gyobu, a Samurai house.

Mum and Dad found it really interesting because they had never been into a Samurai house like this.  There were quite surprised at how big it was.

Day 6 returning home:

Finally, on the plane home we were able to see Mt Fuji, and final treat to the holiday.

To see some more photos, please check out my Flickr set!

Kyushu day 4- Kumamoto day 1

18 12 2009

Today was our first day in Kumamoto. After eating breakfast at the hotel we set off to explore the Kumamoto castle grounds. The complex is actually quite extensive and includes a number of original stone walls, a few original buildings, and a few replicas. The main donjon is a replica, but looks spectacular, and the replica palace in the honmaru was gorgeous. All in all, it was really intresting, and we spent over 4 hours there before we even realised.
Next it was across town to Suienji Garden. This garden was built in the 1600’s, and simulates the Tokaido highway from Tokyo to Kyoto. It even had a minature Mt Fuji. It was very pretty, and mum was particular happy.
We ended the day with some Kyushu ramen (pictured below). Kyushu is famous for it’s tonkotsu ramen, which is my favourite, so I was really happy. We had one tonkotsu ramen, one salt flavored, and one meat and rice dish. Overall a rich meal, but really tasty!

Kyushu day 3- Nagasaki to Kumamoto via Shimabara

17 12 2009

So today we travelled from Nagasaki to Kumamoto. There are a few different ways to make this trip, but we decided to catch the train to Shimabara so we could see the castle there (there’s a picture below). The Shimabara castle isn’t the original, but contained some interesting displays on Christians in Kyushu and the local fedual families.
At the castle we stopped for lunch and I had a style of udon I had never seen before – maruten udon (pictured below). It was yummy, but as my mother commented, it was kinda like seafood extender. We also tried Rokube manju, a black steamed cake with sweet potato inside. It’s a Shimabara speciality and was quite yummy.
After the castle we had to catch a ferry to Kumamoto, where we will spend the rest of the trip. It doesn’t sound like we did much today, but we did spent over 3 hours travelling.
Hopefully we will have good weather for the last couple of days, but it seems we have the threat of snow. Fingers
crossed that if it does snow it won’t interfer with our plans!

Kyushu day 1- Nagasaki

15 12 2009

Well, I’ve been a little lax with updates these last couple of weeks, but with good reason! School exams have been happening, the JLPT was on the 6th, and my parents have come for a visit! Right now we are holidaying in Kyushu, where it’s surprisingly colder than Tokyo!
So our Kyushu trip has started in Nagasaki, home of Champon, Plate Udon, and Castella, to name a few food items. Today we went to Glover Garden, which is the site of a former residence of a foreign businessman. The gardens have been expanded and a number of other historically significant western style buildings have been moved there. It was very beautiful and reminded me of English gardens. Nearby is the Oura Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic church in Japan.
From there we walked to Dejima, the site of the former Dutch settlement. This tiny island was the only official contact Japan had with the western world during it’s isolation period. The original island and buildings had been lost due to land reclaimation and construction, but the reconstruction of the site is really well done. The best word I can find to describe it was fascinating. Quite a mix of Japan and the west.
Next it was a walk along the local shopping arcade and a quick look at Sofukuji Temple, a temple built in Ming dynasty style. It has surprised me how much Chinese infulence there is in Nagasaki. Not only is there a Chinatown, but it also appears that they have dragon dances quite like lion dances. And there are Chinese style restaurants everywhere!
Which brings me to food. Nagasaki is famous for Champon, a ramen soup dish with very salty broth, lots of cabbage, and mixed seafood. The other dish it’s famous for is Plate Udon, which is dried noodles with cabbage, seafood and sauce served on top. Both are very yummy! I’ve tried to attach photos, but as I’m doing this from my phone I don’t know how successful I’ll be.
The other things we tried today were Castella, a sponge cake with a slight sweet cheese flavour, and a type of manju (of which the name escapes me). The manju is unusual as it’s savoury not sweet. Instead of bean paste in a steamed bread bun is was a very juicy, tender, fatty piece of pork. Oh it was yummy!
Okay, that’s all for tonight, more adventures (and food) tomorrow!