Japan: Kumamoto and Kumamon

In June we had a whistle stop tour of Kumamoto, we flew there, stayed on night and came back. Why? Becuase with Peach airlines I found return flights for less than 7000yen each.

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Kumamoto is most famous for its mascot Kumamon, a cute black bear but it also produces a large variety of fruit and vegetables – watermelon and tomatoes in particular.

With only 36 hours to do things we moved quickly, first we visited the tourist shopping area set like an old shopping street.

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They had lots of local food and products.

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This man was really kind, we bought some powdered green tea from him from his farm.

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Then we crossed the road and entered the castle grounds.

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We went inside and up to the top for the view.

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Afterwards we met this cute kid ninja that was going up to people saying hi and giving them origami ninja stars.

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Near the castle was an old samurai house you could tour as well. It was really quiet and peaceful.

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This quirky shrine was on our walk back to town, it had a special type of fortune paper, where you put it in water to reveal your fate.

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J got “good”.

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After that we walked back to our hostel Nakashimaya to check in, have a shower and take a nap. The staff there were very kind and I asked for a recommendation for a local izakaya for dinner. We sat outside at the back, and it was perfect.

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We tried some local sake and food – mustard lotus root, but I skipped trying the basashi (raw horse meat).

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The hostel had a nice view of the castle and city from the rooftop.

The second day it was raining, we tried to take a bus out of the city to see a famous cave but had just missed a bus and the next was not for two hrs, we hardly had enough time to get there and back before our flight so had to skip it. Instead we tried to make a tatami mat, but they were closed for lunch and then rejected our request as you have to book a day in advance.

So we just walked around the covered shopping arcade, revisited the old shopping area and had lunch.

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Creepy head nodding naked men in the udon.

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Rainy season hydrangeas.

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An old Glico warehouse.

The hostel we stayed at is run by a local artist who does traditional dyeing, when we checked in we booked a slot to try ourselves.

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It took about 2 hrs from start to finish, as you have to go slowly with the wax. It was fun but very “high-tension” to do! It only cost 1500yen for this size towel, but you can chose to do a tshirt or sneakers!

J made the Kumamon towel! XD Sadly we didnt find out until we were leaving that he actually has an office in the city where twice a day you can meet him.

Although he is EVERYWHERE in Kumamoto, pretty much every Kumamon item imaginable exists. Here are just a few…

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A goods shop in the castle grounds.

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Karaoke.

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A fire extinguisher.

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Kumamons tracksuit, for just under 20,000yen!!!

Hostel Nakashimaya http://nakashimaya.ikidane.com/eng.html (be warned the rooms are tiny, like only space for futon tiny, but the common room is spacious and the hostel dotted with curios).

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