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The Oriental Caravan's 

Postcard from Kumamoto


Click on any image to see it enlarged

Images of tsunami damage
by Mr Kunio Kadowaki

Kumamoto Castle...
site of an epic siege during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877
that effectively lead to the defeat of the Samurai class.
The failure of this 'last gasp' attempt to save traditional Japan
paved the way for what took its place - the ultimately
disastrous militarism and expansionism that was Imperial Japan.
'Last Samurai' inspiration, the great Saigo Takamori lead the Satsuma rebellion. Despite having fought against the Emperor he is considered a hero among many Japanese, particularly here in his hometown of Kagoshima, where his picture is ubiquitous. Without doubt he embodied the true spirit of bushido 'the way of the warrior'. The site of Saigo Takamori's heroic ritual suicide, seppuku, at the end of the Battle of Shiroyama, Kagoshima. He and 300 or so of his remaining Samurai fought to the death against an Imperial army of  some 30,000 heavily armed, Western-trained troops.
Giant squid, Hagi Museum
Squidlike shadow of a gunslit, Matsue Castle

Part of the San In coastline near Hagi
Screenshot from a newsroom in the Tohoku region, broadcasting during an aftershock.
Don't give up, Japan!
Don't give up, Tohoku!

One of many signs that sprung up throughout the country exorting people not to despair in the face of the disaster. This one in Hagi. Ganbatte, Nihon!

The economic damage of the earthquake has been catastrophic. Throughout Japan students and young people devoted all their spare time to raising money to help the victims.

Japan Red Cross Appeal
 Shoshazan Engyoji temple, Himeji (location for the shooting of 'the Last Samurai'. Buddhist deity on the approach to  Shoshazan Engyoji temple Schoolboy dwarfed by Kumamoto Castle's massive outer walls
Section of garden at the Adachi Museum, considered by some to be the most beautiful garden in all Japan Pine trees at the Adachi Museum Ornamental bridge in the exquisite gardens of the  Imperial Palace, Kyoto
Statue at the Kamikaze Museum in Chiran, commemorating the brave young men who died in the defence of their country at the end of the Second World War. Cherry blossom, the ephemerality of whose beauty is considered to symbolise the Samurai warrior and the Kamikaze pilots in whose tradition they followed Manicured pine in the shape of a kamikaze  attack plane, Kamikaze Museum, Chiran

Amanohashidate (the Floating Bridge of Heaven) is a pine-clad sandspit considered to be one of Japan's 'top three sights'. The traditional way to view it is through ones legs! Manga style instructions are always on hand! Caravaneers enjoying the free samples on offer during the Hitoyoshi shochu distillery tour
Caravaneers at play in Kansai. Tsunami refugee contact point at Kyoto station Antique Sony tape recorder!
Pine trees growing in the keep of Hitoyoshi Castle. Saigo Takamori spent time here after his retreat from Kumamoto, residing at Eikokuji 'Ghost' Temple Moat surrounding the ruins of the beautifully situated Hagi Castle Four-handed fishing net seen in Hagi, similar to those used on Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan
Avenue flanked by Samurai houses in Chiran, near Kagoshima. After their restoration of Imperial power in 1868 the local Samurai turned their swords into secateurs and began growing tea, some of the best in Japan. The view from Shiroyama, across Kagoshima, to the still active Sakurajima (Cherry Blossom Island) volcano. The locals on occasion use their umbrellas to protect themselves from the volcano's fine, falling ash. Saigo Takamori


 The Last Samurai

In this small cave in Kagoshima, on the last night before his death at the Battle of Shiroyama, 'Last Samurai' Saigo Takamori, spent the evening drinking sake with the most loyal of his dwindling band of Samurai. In this small bar in Kagoshima, on the last night of that journey that has come to be known as 'In search of the Last Samurai'... ...'Last Caravaneer' Phil Colley spent the evening drinking sake with the most loyal of his dwindling band of Caravaneers. There was only one other person in the bar. In our hearts, that night, we found him...

That's all, folks! With best wishes for the rest of the Summer,

 from Phil and all aboard
The Oriental Caravan

Images of tsunami damage
by Mr Kunio Kadowaki

  Japan Red Cross Appeal  


TRIPS for 2012…

JAPAN - Hokkaido:  join us for the Sapporo Ice festival and an unforgettable winter adventure in the snowy lands of the Ainu in Japan’s far north.
A Caravan through the Land of the Ainu - starts February 5th 2012.

JAPAN - Honshu:  an exciting new off-the-beaten-track trip loosely themed on the story of Saigo Takamori, the real life ‘Last Samurai‘.
In Search of the Last Samurai - dates to be confirmed. If you are interested in this tour please let us know!.


TAIWAN - Swim in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and enjoy all the friendliness and culture that this fascinating, unspoilt island has to offer!
A Caravan to the Beautiful Isle - starts February 19th, March 4th, October 21st, November 11th 2012.
JAPAN - Kyushu:  Our classic tour of the best that Japan has to offer sets off again next Spring just in time to catch the glories of the cherry blossom.
The Land of the Rising Sun - starts March 23rd, April 8th, October 21st 2012.
JAPAN - Shikoku: For those looking for something different this unusual and singularly relaxing journey through Shikoku is scheduled for May.
In the Footsteps of Pilgrims - starts May 12th 2012.
JAPAN - Tohoku: no other trip around Japan offers such variety of interest or the chance to hear Matsuo Basho’s poetry recited on location!

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - starts October 5th 2012


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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links