CAGE TRIP ALERT: Kyushu Kansai JAN2012

Kamakura Kid

Mar 3, 2011
Kamakura, Japan
So, you've seen the pix I took of various Honda shops during my Kyushu and Kansai trip last month, here's the touristy stuff I saw.

Nagasaki is kind of like the Seattle of Japan, noted for its rainy days. I've a friend whom runs a hotel there, he is located right at the foot of Holland Slope. As you can tell by the name, this is the hill area where a lot of foreigners lived right after Japan opened a few of its ports to general foreign traders back in the 1850's.

Taken while standing on the front steps of my friend's hotel:

Stone marker at the beginning of Hollland Slope:

Part of Holland Slope:

Looking down at some old furriner houses. Note how the kitchens are separated from the main houses. Helps keep down fire damage and pest problems.

Paving stones, steep hills, and a reputation for rain. Not the best place to ride a bike!

Views from the Glover Gardens, where several rich Western traders had their own little compound:




This is part of the elevator system leading up to Glover Gardens. The curved walkways are an artistic solution to connect existing pathways traversing the slope and still used by local residents. The juxtaposition of so many curves, angles, and straight lines makes this elevator system a photographer's dream come true!

More pictures here if you are interested: Holland Slope/

Kamakura Kid

Mar 3, 2011
Kamakura, Japan
Shimabara is located about a 90 minute drive from Nagasaki. The city has a castle (reconstructed), but is more famous for the well-preserved/renovated samurai quarters. You'll see in the pics the gravel road with a stream running down the middle, with old fashioned houses on either side of the road. While are mostly well disguised modern houses, there are several preserved houses, some featuring those creepy wax figures seemingly designed primarily to give little children nightmares.

Shimabara is also famous for being the site of a Catholic rebellion against the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1630's. This rebellion led the government to deny access to foreigners, except for a small Dutch enclave at Nagasaki. This is also the same rebellion where the mighty and legendary swordmaster, Musashi Miyamoto, was felled by a kid chucking a rock. MM, well into retirement by then, was a personal friend of the leader of the Tokugawa troops. MM was asked as a personal favor to help the govt forces. Before MM could wield a single sword slash, some kid chucked a rock which broke one of MM's legs, so he had to retire from battle. I was watching a TV program about the rebellion, and it was pretty darned funny.

MC: Do you think the rebels were aware of Musashi's presence?

Historian/commentator: Well, considering Musashi never bathed, I'm pretty sure just about everyone in the immediate vicinity was pretty well aware of his presence.


Anyway, some pics plus a link to the album.






some fortified islands

and the link: samurai homes/

Kamakura Kid

Mar 3, 2011
Kamakura, Japan
Kumamoto Castle is another of the rare "crow" castles, meaning black instead of whitewashed. The keep and defenses were designed by a warlord widely acknowledged to be a military genius. What doesn't come throught in the photos is the sheer size of the place. Heck, the INNER moat is about as wide as a football field and I'm guessing maybe 30 ft deep in places. All sorts of traps, misleading routes leading to death boxes with interlocking fields of fire, the works. Even the stone steps are of made of large and irregular stones in order to slow invading soldiers down.

On that of all that, Kumamoto Castle is just plain beautiful. As you can tell, I kind of went wild with the camera, but there were so many spectacular shots I couldn't help myself.

Inner moat


Secondary gate:


Them steps I mention above

Multiple towers for interlocking fields of fire

Just plain beautiful!

This is a fake passageway. Seems like you're on the right path to the main keep, only to wind up at a dead end with castle defenders launching multiple projectiles in your general direction.

death from above

as you try to scale these bulwarks

and the album: bike trips/Kumamoto Castle/

Kamakura Kid

Mar 3, 2011
Kamakura, Japan
Ako Castle shots, but first a quick recap of why the place is so significant. In 1701, Lord Asano, head of the Ako fiefdom, had to go to Edo Castle to perform protocol duties in anticipation of an Imperial visit. He neglected to appropriately bribe the chief protocol dude, Lord Kira, whom proceeded to set Asano up for failure, and mercilessly taunted Lord Asano as a country bumpkin. Finally, on the day of the visit, Lord Asano tried to ask Lord Kira a question, only to be taunted yet again. Enraged, Lord Asano drew his sword (a big no-no within the confines of Edo Castle) and tried but failed to kill Lord Asano.

Lord Asano was sentenced to a shameful death by self disembowelment, and even though the law was both parties in such a conflict were to be punished equally, Lord Kira got off scot-free.

The Asano Clan was disbanded, and the castle turned over to the Tokugawa govt, but Lord Oh-Ishi secretly plotted revenge. Almost two years later, on December 14th 1702, Lord Oh-Ishi led 46 still faithful warriors on a raid of Lord Kira's compound in Edo (now Tokyo) and successfully managed to behead Lord Kira. The 47 warriors then paraded through the streets of Edo to present the head to Lord Asano's grave, then turned themselves in.

The 47 were widely lauded as heroes, and the Tokugawa government knew they couldn't just be put to death as outlaws. So, an honorable death option was chosen, and the 47 committed ritual disembowelment. They are all interned in Tokyo's Sengaku Temple along with Lord Asano.

To this day, numerous plays, movies, and TV shows are produced about the valiant 47 warriors. They are an indelible part of Japan's culture and national psyche.

If one googles 47 Ronin or 47 Samurai, there will be plenty of information.

Lord Oh-Ishi's residence in Ako was just outside the castle perimeter, and has now been converted into a Shinto Shrine bearing his name.

OK, the pix:





Back gate/door to Lord Oh-Ishi's residence. The walls of the residence compound contain the barracks for his personal retainers.


somewhat faded, but you can still make out his name on this signboard

Oh-Ishi Shrine



and the link to the album bike trips/Ako Castle Oh-ishi Shrine/


Senior Member
May 14, 2011
Chiang Mai
Multistrada 1200S Touring, WR450F, KTM200EXC, Gas Gas 280, PCX
Very interesting, always wanted to visit Japan and sight see these sort of attractions.
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