With our bags stowed in a train station locker, we headed on over to Kumamoto Castle, one of only three black castles in Japan. Inside, they had a recently renovated palace. Normally, when you visit a castle in Japan you only get to see the "defense" portions of the castle and while climbing crazy steep steps to see the view from the top of the donjon is fun, it was really nice to see some of the luxury that past rulers lived in. There was none of the rich furnishings that you see at places like Versailles, but instead just long empty rooms of tatami mats with gorgeous paintings on the screens. The best were the gold ones in what was the "throne" room.
Then we headed over to Suizenji Park. It was very nice. There was a pond, a temple, and an ode to Mt. Fuji. We had tea and manju and then we headed back to the station where I made us miss the train to Aso. With an hour and a half to kill before the next we settled in with drinks and a spicy mustard lotus root treat that is a specialty of Kumamoto.
Next stop: Aso. With volcanos and more samurai.