In that trip, I though it would be nice to expand our horizons and visit Kyushu, the third largest main island of Japan. We have already been to Honshu, Hokkaido and Okinawa, meaning that for us it would be the fourth Japanese island. In the beginning, I planned to go all the way down to Kagoshima to see the active volcano Sakurajima, but our schedule was becoming tight, and we decided to start our acquaintance with the island from such cities as Fukuoka and Kumamoto.
We did not really plan to go to Kitakyushu in the beginning, but as it was on our way from Hiroshima, it was strategically convenient to spend a night in that city before moving further. We booked a hotel in a walking distance from the central station.
From the tourist booklets in the hotel we have learned that there was a castle located not so far from where we stayed. So, in the morning we decided to go there and take a look. The Kokura castle turned out to be a small and neat building, surrounded by a park where cherry blossoms were in their full bloom. As Kyushu is located relatively in the south, blooming starts a bit earlier there compared to Tokyo.
It was nice to see groups of people gathering there for hanami, or picnics under the cherry trees. The street food stalls were selling deliciously smelling snacks. The sun was shining bright.
As we decided to spend the morning in Kitakyushu, it meant we would have less time in Fukuoka, the region’s capital city. Anyway, we did not have any concrete plan for the visit, which meant we were rather flexible. First thing, I bough a pretty pin from the Hard Rock Cafe for my collection to tick it off the list, and after that we decided to take a walk to the Tōchō-ji temple and to the Kushida shrine. We found both very beautiful.
The whole city (or at least the part of it we saw) was in bloom.
Wow, I have never had such a fatty ramen before! For lunch we decided to try a Hakata ramen, typical for Fukuoka. From a friend originally coming from that city we have learnt that the best place to have a ramen in Fukuoka is the Canal City Hakata, a big shopping and entertainment complex. We soon have discovered that they have the whole floor dedicated to ramen with at least eight different shops. We randomly picked one. The ramen was thick and rich in flavour, but after a couple of spoons of that killer-broth, I started to think that I won’t have hunger for at least a week.
In the evening of the same day we have arrived to Kumamoto. All I knew about that city, was that they had a funny black bear Kumamon for a mascot and that the Kumamoto castle was one of the greatest castles in Japan. These two facts seemed to be enough to make me curious about that city. Only when we arrived at the hotel and turned on the TV, have we learned that the castle actually was severely damaged during the earthquake already in April 2016. Oh well, shame on me for having missed such an important thing.
Since the castle was closed, there was only one sight left we planned to visit in Kumamoto. Early next morning we went to see the Suizenji Jojuen Garden. It turned out to be a very green and spacious place with elements so typical to traditional Japanese gardens, including a big pond with koi-fish and neatly trimmed pines. The place even had a miniature Mt. Fuji!
Having left the park, we discovered that there was a traditional festival taking place nearby. We stayed there for a while watching the performances and having some snacks from the food area.
The rest of the day we spent on a train returning back to Osaka. The Shinkansen ride took us four hours.
Photos taken in March 2018