The ferry trip from Shimabara Port to Kumamoto Port was a brief 30 minutes. There’s an outdoor deck for those who prefer to be outside (that’s us!) and there’s the full AC indoor section. The deck gives a very nice view of the ferry departing from Shimabara, but, the outdoor section is also the smoking section. As long as you don’t mind the smell, then it is fine. We had seagulls following our ferry at quite close distance, and I was wondering why until I saw the couple standing in the corner with their hands stretched out. They were feeding them!
We only had one night in Kumamoto, so we had to be selective on what we should visit. Here’s our to-see and to-eat list:
1. Kumamoto Castle
We stayed at the Nikko Hotel which is within walking distance to Kumamoto’s main attraction, namely, the castle. Unfortunately the castle went through a rough earthquake in April, and we were stupid enough to not check whether the castle would still be open for public.
It wasn’t. It is currently under reconstruction until who knows when. Donations are still pouring in to rebuild Kumamoto, and the government is trying to push Kyushu tourism by offering discounts and the likes for accommodations. It is speculated that the castle won’t be open for a few years at least. Which was sad, because the castle itself was going through a major restoration project, which was due to be completed in 2019.
2. Suizenji Garden
This beautiful garden was constructed in 17th century by the Hosokawa Clan, and strolling around in it made us feel better about not being able to see Kumamoto Castle.
3. Basashi, or horse sashimi
Basashi is the traditional food of Kumamoto. Unlike whale or tuna or anything else that might come from dubious, unsustainable source, the horse meat in Kumamoto comes from respectable horse farms. So in this case, I personally think eating a horse is the same as eating chicken or cow or lamb or any other farm animals.
There are many restaurants selling horse meat in downtown Kumamoto. Head into any one of them, and they all should roughly taste the same.
It tasted a bit chewy for a sashimi, but tasted great as yakiniku. Having said that, I still prefer beef.
4. Kumamoto Ramen
The other famous food in Kumamoto is Kumamoto ramen, which was said to be influenced by Hakata Ramen.
I felt that one day was not enough to experience Kumamoto. It is a lovely cultural city and it would have been great to spend another two days there. Definitely a much better city than Nagasaki. This, would be on my to-revisit list!