Friday, August 26, 2011

Nagasaki & Kumamoto -- Kyushu Road Trip Part I

Over Obon week our family decided to take a road trip down to Kyushu. Japan is separated into four different islands –– Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku and Hokkaido. Kyushu is the most southern and second smallest of the four island. We only had four days, so our plan was to hit the Northern part of the island, with stops in Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Mt Aso and Oita. Most people take an overnight ferry (with their car) but we wanted to see the scenery and opted to drive. The 10 hour drive was pretty simple and to our surprise we did not hit much traffic.

Our first stop was Nagasaki, the city which was destroyed by the second atomic bomb on August 9, 1945. Two summers ago we had gone to Hiroshima, so it was interesting to compare the two cities. It still amazes me after seeing the destruction and damage caused by the bombs, how both cities have rebuilt and have no real lasting visual effects.

Our first day in Nagasaki was spent exploring the city, Peace Park, the bombing site and the Atomic Bombing museum.
Bombing Memorial - We had just been there after the anniversary so there were many items of remembrance there.
Matt and I at Peace Park
Part of a church building that withstood the bomb
The kids and I in front of another memorial


The second day we stopped at the 26 Martyr Museum and Monument before heading for Kumamoto. This museum is in honor of 26 missionaries who were arrested in 1597 for being Christians and made to walk from Kyoto (near where I live) to Nagasaki, where on February 5, 1597, they were hung. The museum was full of actual artifacts (sorry no pictures inside were allowed) from not just these 26 missionaries, but from the history of Christianity in Japan.
The outside of the church was beautiful. The art was made from broken dishes and pottery.
Memorials of the missionaries. The youngest one was 12 years old.
After the museum we started our drive to Kumamoto. It was supposed to take about 3 hours via the expressway, but we decided to try and drive through the "country" so it took more like 4.5. With some of the scenery, it was more than worth the extra time.
View from a dam overlooking the rice fields.
Small little town along the way offering canal rides
Surprisingly, Kumamoto itself was a much more modern and busy city than Nagasaki. The main attraction was the Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan's three premier castles. Some of the outside of the castle was original, dating back to 1467, but the inside had all been redone due to fire. They did a good job at trying to represent what the castle would have looked like inside.
Tatami rooms. The farther down the room the higher your rank would be
You can see just how big the surrounding castle walls were compared to Sami.
View from the top of the castle
Matt & kids at the secondary castle
Chris trying to scale the castle walls
Afterwards we walked around the city and went into little shops. The kids love trying to figure out what the items being sold actually are, especially the food.


It was a great first two days. Even though I have lived here for almost three years, I still find myself falling in love with this country more and more.

Next up -- Mt. Aso, Oita, Beppu -- Kyushu Part II.

44 comments:

Carey said...

Sure does look like a beautiful place. Enjoy your next two days.

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Madison Richards said...

What beautiful pictures! I didn't know you were still in Japan! Looks like life is treating you well and you all look wonderful!

Grace,
Madison Richards

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