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  • Writer's pictureNigel

Google Maps can't cope....これは訳せません 🤨

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

2023 年 1 月 6 日


Japan 日本

Google maps is not great for everything. I discover this when trying to find the Prefectural Art Museum in Kumamoto. If I had known that it was slap bang opposite the castle I would have just walked through the castle to get to it. But no, I am directed through a baseball pitch and a compost centre. But I find it eventually and wearily ask if there is a café. Yes, but it is not open until 11am. O.k., so meantime I immerse myself in pre-historic Kyushu tombs.........先史時代の九州の古墳......

arrows in quivers.....矢筒の矢

16thc. letters........江戸時代の手紙

In retrospect, this letter looks very much like the Kana shodo referred to in this article............https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/26/saving-woman-hand-the-artist-rescuing-female-only-writing . Impossible to read of course 😅

Here is a beautiful Edo-era screen depicting plum blossoms. Everybody goes on about the cherry blossoms here, but the lesser known plum blossoms are also georgeous.....梅の花もゴージャス。

Oh, and some very sharp-looking swords. This one is a Wakazashi sword used by Hosokawa Yusai (a Samurai warrior) in the 14thc (the Muromachi period)....鋭い剣......室町.

After all this history I stagger into the café. At last I get my coffee - やっとコーヒーが飲める.......beautifully served with a elegantly presented slice of tiramisu.

It's all so damn civilized. You sip your coffee and look out onto the park outside. You'd think that you were in the Ritz in London....ロンドンのリッツにいたと思うでしょう. But this is only a café in a provincial museum. Bucked up by the coffee, I emerge out of the museum into the mild day.....

The exterior of the museum has a simple modern design, 美術館の外観はシンプルモダンなデザインで、tastefully shaded by trees.....

and is the ideal counterpoint to the mighty towers of the castle opposite. 向かいの城の塔。

The sun comes out (up until then it has been a rather cloudy 18°c). I lie on the grass 私は草の上に横たわる and let crowds of schoolchildren troupe past me. They are all having their photos taken - all dressed in blue. They move together like a swarm of bees, herded by teachers with clipboards. They are laughing and chatting, 小学生が笑ったりおしゃべりしたり...probably relieved to out of the classroom. The smaller kids have yellow caps. They are all so neat, clean and tidy. それらはすべてとてもきれいで、きれいで、整頓されています。The castle has been chosen as the ideal backdrop for team / class photos. The photographers are busy, shouting encouraging comments........https://youtube.com/shorts/fOiaQCJ7v2M?feature=share

Meanwhile I inspect the marvellous old trees in the park - or should I say "playing field"?.....

公園の素敵な古い木

There is a queue of cars trying to get into the temple nearby. I go and investigate. Little children, dressed in beautiful kimonos, clamber out of shiny clean cars. お寺の美しい着物とピカピカの車......

Father is often in a suit, and Mother is either in a kimono herself or a smart jacket. I want to ask them to pose for a photo for me, but no; I feel like the gaping tourist at a family event. One little girl, unused to the sandals下駄; geta , trips up and falls head first on to the ground. Poor little thing! She will remember this day. Tears a-plenty😥.... 小さな女の子がつまずいて……涙......Mother fusses over, patting off the dust on her kimono. The family go to the shrine, pay their respects, get in their cars and drive off again. There is quite a turnover. All with the ever-present backdrop of the castle.....

But this is not any old shrine. This one is attached to the castle, and is important 大切な神社です


 

Looking at the city today, I see very little evidence of the magnitude 7.3 tremor which hit the place back in 2016. 街では地震の被害は少ないが、城では……My initial glimpse of the castle walls were from the bus....https://youtube.com/shorts/ojbn9d5zKgI?feature=share .

It's quite a slog up to this mighty edifice 熊本城. It is a huge, well fortified complex. First started in 15thc., it has been developed and rebuilt several times through the centuries. What we see today is the work of the Hosokawa clan. I pay my ticket and enter the main keep. It looks well preserved doesn't it? Well, that's because it's a 1960s reconstruction......

Now if you were to reconstruct a medieval cathedral in Britain, people would raise their hands in horror...google translate = 英国で中世の大聖堂を再建するとしたら 人々は恐怖のあまり手を挙げます (the National Trust would probably want to preserve the ruins and add a gift shop next door). But cathedrals have never been damaged by earthquakes in Britain. 大聖堂はイギリスの地震で一度も被害を受けていません. Tremors and quakes are an accepted part of life here, so thank heavens there is a reconstruction of this castle keep. And thanks to this engineering (which you can see inside)....

The keep was undamaged in 2016. Not so the older parts of the complex. Walls crumbled.....

2016年地震被害

and whole buildings collapsed....

The tiles however, are designed to slide off the roofs, so that their weight does not cause further damage to the roof beams during an earthquake. Clever!

I take the lift up to the top of the main keep and gaze at the Kyushu hills......九州山地

....and the city......

Later, when I am at ground level, I admire the curved stone walls the....."musha-gaeshi " 武者ー返し (not sure if that kanji is correct)...walls designed to repel invaders.....

Everywhere there are diggers, crains, portacabins - all witness to the huge post-earthquake repair work. Stones are painstakingly numbered and lined up......修理には何年もかかります。 石には番号が付けられています.......

It will take decades....but the Japanese never seem to give up..日本人は決してあきらめない........whether it be after the firebombing of Tokyo in 1942, or the Tohoku earthquake and tidal wave of 2011, to mention just two examples.


 

I'm ready to leave Kumamoto and take the plane to Kanagawa - destination Yokohama. But before I do that, I have a little time on my hands. So what is this Hearn Residence mentioned in the town guide? Well, let's have a look. It's right in the centre so no problem to reach. No problem? haha!....but here it is, a traditional house wedged in by concrete blocks and shopping malls. I tentatively cross the threshold, leaving my shoes outside. A blinking elderly curator emerges from a cosy room on the left of the entrance. No entrance fee? no. Please look around. He finds a badly translated guide to the exhibits and then I am left alone. O.k., so who is this Lafcadio Hearn? My attention is drawn to a map of Europe and I stop short in my tracks. The name Durham ダーラム ("Duramu") hits me. I spent three very happy years of my life studying Archaeology in Durham University, and the place means a lot to me. So what the......?........https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B0%8F%E6%B3%89%E5%85%AB%E9%9B%B2

Well, it turns out that this man, of Greek/Irish descent, spent time at school in Ushaw College, Durham in 1865, before emigrating to the States.

It is a long and complicated story, so here is a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lafcadio_Hearn I was flabbergasted. You can still find his books on Amazon! I call the curator over and tell him that I know Durham well. He promptly introduces me to the postman " ......we have a visitor from Durham!!!....".

But the whole "exhibition" looks as though it had seen better days. I wonder who visits it.

(note: on returning home I did some research and discovered this...https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatson/details/?id=27959 )


 

It's time to catch the bus to the airport. Goodbye Kumamoto....😢..さよなら熊本.....


Thank you for reading this 🙏. Feel free to share it with friends if you like. よろしければ、リンクを友達と共有してください😊 . I send out the blog pretty randomly to whoever I think might be interested. Some of you have subscribed (if you are on your mobile then open the menu at the start), which means you get a deluxe notification via email. Thank you! Otherwise it goes out on LINE and WHATSAPP. Some of you though have not been receiving the notification emails. Could be they have ended up in your spam folder. If you don't want to be sent this blog, don't hesitate to tell me and I shall take you off the list. No problem.

この投稿を読んでいただきありがとうございます。 新しい投稿のお知らせを受け取りたい場合は、上部の購読フォームに記入してください。 ありがとう!Nigel.😊



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終わり

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senkawascott
Jan 08, 2023

Fine photos of Kumamoto. I wonder if they are all from your mobile phone? I used to visit that city now and then when living in Kyushu. It’s a place I would retiring to.

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