See Japan's castles the easy way
Article posted on Wednesday, October, 12th, 2011 at 10:09 pm
Here’s me getting ready to go crazy with my Kagoshima adventures (see last post: Sakurajima bang) and I realise that I have ton of stuff that I’ve yet to get to from the Japanese Summer school holidays.
I did some driving back in August, and why would I be driving around Kumamoto in my free time? To visit castles of course. The castle I visited that day was Kikuchi castle.
Interestingly, Kikuchi the castle is written as 鞠智城, and Kikuchi the city is written as 菊池市. Also interestingly, is that this type of thing isn’t that rare.
The ancient Kikuchi castle (鞠智城) wasn’t the only castle I had my sights set on that day, in fact. There was another Kikuchi castle (菊池城) and this one was of the later, Sengoku-period variety. (Confused yet?)
The stone castle-marker you see to the left was the only indication that the site was ever anything more than the local shrine, or so I thought. Not 10 steps to the left of the castle marker is a door, and a door I’d recommend you go through.
What I found was several large rooms filled with border-line fascinating, historical items on display. Most amazing of all was that the door was just open, no-one was there to collect the entry-fee. There was no entry fee. There were no visitors.
Thinking back now, it almost blows my mind the amount of history out there that is not locked away, yet still no-one gets to experience it.
Armour, and quite a bit of it. The suits of armour below I’d date to the Edo perod (1603 – 1868). I don’t believe there were signs saying each armour belonged to so-and-so. The one photo I have with the sign clearly visible simply states that it it of the Etchū-style (越中流).
I don’t consider myself an expert on Japanese arms and armour, but its style of the armour below would indicate that it belongs to an era prior to those of the previous photo.
This was a surprise, armour of a Mongol warrior. The Kikuchi clan actually came to prominence (if I’m to believe Wikipedia) during (one of) the Mongol invasions of Japan at Hakata bay. Getting back to the armour, it’s probably a replica.
The sign says that this old roof tile was dug up from what was the main enclosure (of the castle.)
A fine array of weapons, and so rare that they can be photographed. There were no signs nor guards to say that photography wasn’t permitted. This place gets the Japanese Castle Explorer seal of approval.
Article posted on Saturday, October, 1st, 2011 at 8:51 am
A slight detour from my trip home from work takes me here, the Matsuzaki Shuku (or is that Juku?) For those who can’t wait for the video explaining what this place is, it was a rest stop for Daimyō & their entourages on their long journeys (& forced visits) to the capital of Edo. This system was known as Sankin kōtai (参勤交代).
This particular rest-stop is located in southern Fukuoka Prefecture, so it was used by clans such as the Shimazu, Hosokawa and Tachibana, among others.
Very few signs of the Shuku remain today. Happily, things of interest can still be found if you seek them out.
Below is a building whose interesting styling and white-plaster walls means it get noticed. There was no information board to indicate that it even existed when the Shuku was catering to Daimyō & samurai.
This tin-topped, two-story building is the only inn that remains. It was one of many that once lined the streets.
Hanging onions who are paying for their crime of being yummy.
A seemingly abandoned building. I am intrigued as to what may be found inside. If only the side of the building would open up allowing me to pear within.
Damn! I still can’t quite see inside. I suspect if I take a closer look, someone will call the police.
This was so cool. These two trowel artists were applying the finishing touches to the house’s gable.
One of my final sights before exiting the Shuku.
Thanks you checking this post out everyone. I have been very slack with posting these last couple of months.
Article posted on Saturday, June, 26th, 2010 at 8:29 am
I was walking around school between lessons looking for a teacher (I work at 8 schools in Kurume city) & came across a room filled with historical artefacts. The room was decked out like a folk museum with items from various eras of Japan’s past. I later found out that the more ancient stuff were replicas but hey, considering this is a local school, I was still impressed.
Anyway, after getting permission (of course), the teacher said that NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, had been there just two days earlier for a story. Have I in fact scooped NHK? Perhaps the big question is, Does it really matter?
Check out the vid and tell me what you think!