Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Enjoy Kyushu

 You think Kyushu is far from Matsumoto, don’t you? It’s true it’s a long way, but if you take a flight, it takes only an hour and a half from Matsumoto airport to Fukuoka, and from there to the Shinkansen station, Hakata, is only fifteen minutes. My plane took off from Matsumoto airport at 15:30, and I arrived in Kumamoto at 18:00. It is not far!


Kumamoto is a pleasant city, not too big, not too small; just right medium size. There is a beautiful castle in the center of city, nostalgic trams trundle around, and there are lots of green spaces even in the city centre.


JR Kyushu runs some interesting special trains services. These are completely different from regular trains. Most of these kinds of trains were designed by Etsuji Mitooka, who is a great industrial designer. These trains are eye-catching on the outside, and inside have amazing designs and original styling. One of them has a bar in the train car, another has sofas and bookshelves; there are also lovely mummy & kids’ chairs, wonderful viewing decks, etc.

The inside of "Aso-boy"


I experienced the journey from Kumamoto to Beppu aboard “Asoboy. As a passenger, you can spoil yourself with original food, buy branded souvenirs and be treated to special service. In the train, there are some play spaces for children and lovely pair seats for children and parent. I enjoyed the panoramic view of Mount Aso from the high viewing seats. The friendly crew offered to take memorial photographs for travelers. It was an exciting, lovely experience. I enjoyed a lot.


On this trip I realized again how wonderful Kyushu is, especially abundant with beautiful waters. You can enjoy a wide variety of amazing hot springs, or “Onsen”, in places like Beppu, Yufuin and Kurokawa. You can explore unique cities and see abundant nature. Of course, the food is lovely. As I experienced, the people are calm and kind as well.




Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Hideyoshi and Nene

Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Kodaiin (Generally, she is called “Nene”.) are the famous couple in early Japan called the Sengoku period. They became a married couple after they had got over the hardship.

They were married in 1561, despite the objections of Nene’s families. Especially Asahi-dono, Nene’s mother, strongly opposed to their marriage, and she had not approved it until she died in 1598. At that point in time when political marriages were the norm, they were a rare case of marriage for love. I think that they are similar to Romeo and Juliet.

On the other hand, there are some differences in love stories of between Hideyoshi and Nene and Romeo and Juliet. The marriage of Hideyoshi and Nene was a misalliance. Hideyoshi was a soldier of low rank, and Nene was a daughter of the royal “samurai” families. Above all, Hideyoshi brought the country under one sway, and Nene supported Hideyoshi secretly. I think they are the happiest couple in the Sengoku period.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Haunting Story: Banshu Sara Yoshiki

Name of building:
Himeji Castle

Okayama prefecture

History of building:
Established in 1346, castle towers were built in 1580 by Hideyoshi.

Description of ghost: 
In 1504 Okiku, a young and clever housemade, saved Onodera, the master of the castle, while Aoyama, one of Onodera's retainers, took over the castle. Aoyama's retainer, Danshiro realized her actions, he compelled her to be his mistress but she refused. Danshiro was so angry that he broke one of ten dishes of his master's treasure and blamed her. He strangled her and threw her body into the old well.

Ghost's activity:
Okiku appeared from the old well every midnight and she counted the dishes in her painful voice, 'one, two, three…'. There should have been 10 pieces but one of them was broken by Danshiro,
so she broke down in tears for missing the 10th dish.

People's feelings:
People were sorry for Okiku. This story spread all over Japan and it became a Kabuki play or Rakugo story.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Inventor of Instant noodles – Momofuku Ando

Momofuku Ando invented instant noodles and he is known as the founder of Nissin Food. He was born in Taiwan. He lost his parents at an early age, after that he was raised by grandparents who run the textile industry. That situation gave opportunity him to start up first a business. His business was on track, unfortunately, the World war II was started. After the war, he had to choose between becoming a citizen of China or Japanese nationality. He chose China nationality, however he remained in Japan. 

In 1957, the credit union chaired by Ando went bankrupt. He lost all his property, leaving only a rented house in Ikeda City, Osaka. He inspired himself, and remembered the people lined up at the ramen stalls in the black market after the war. He was convinced that Japanese people likes noodles. He decided to invent “ramen that can be eaten at home with hot water”. After a year of trial and error, he finally invented instant noodles by himself. 

In 1966, Ando naturalized through marriage and became a Japanese citizen.  

He faced hardship many times, but his undaunted sprit carried him over the problems.