Gallery: Kyūshū, Japan (Land of the last Samurai)

1 month exploring Japans friendliest, warmest and most beautiful area filled with active volcanic peaks, tropical coastlines and great onsens virtually everywhere. Learning about the great, (but sad) Samurai history as i travel around this island where the Samurai had their last battle after about 700 years from their feudal system that dominated Japan.

Album: Exploring Kyūshū 

Highlights:

  • Kumamoto castle

Kumamoto castle

1 of Japans 3 great castles built by a warrior for warriors. The unique appearance of Kumamoto Castle stems mainly from its raven-black fortifications and its enormous musha-gaeshi sloped stone walls. The term “musha-gaeshi” roughly translates to “warrior repelling,” as the walls were designed to slope gently at the base, giving the appearance to attacking samurai or ninjas that the walls are scalable, but the incline gradually becomes steeper near the top of the wall, leaving the would-be attacker exposed and with no other option but to fall back down. “Musha-gaeshi” stone walls - were designed to slope gently at the base, giving the appearance to attacking samurai or ninjas that the walls are scalable, but the incline gradually becomes steeper near the top of the wall, leaving the would-be attacker exposed and with no other option but to fall back down. 

Martial arts demonstration at the castle.

The many angles of Kumamoto castle

 

  • Reigan-do Cave(霊厳洞)

For any Samurai fan, Reigan-do Cave(霊厳洞) is where legendary Samurai Miyamoto Musashi retired as a hermit in 1643 and wrote "Gorin no Sho." (Book of 5 rings). It is located in Unganji temple on the outskirts of Kumamoto. When he was 62 year's old, he started writing his own record for his style Niten Ichiryu (famous fighting style using 2 swords) which is still practiced by some in Kumamoto. Gorin no sho has 5 volume, earth, water, fire, wind and universe. It has all his knowledge of fighting. He died one week after he finished writing Gorin no Sho.

 

  • Invitation to an Iaido dojo

Was invited to visit a real Dojo and photograph a live Iaido (居合道 Iaidō ) class. Iaido is associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard or saya, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. 
Nice to see the respect they have for their Sensei as he passes down his knowledge to continue this art.