16th July 2017: Kumamoto and VAMPS {Japan, summer 2017}

In the morning we headed off to get to know Kumamoto [熊本] a little. The first stop was Honmyou-ji [肥後 本妙寺], a temple in outskirts (with a tram stop conveniently placed at the end of the street). It is a temple that suffered a lot of damage in the 2016 earthquake and it’s in process of being rebuilt. A double staircase (176 steps) leads up from the main door to the main building. In-between the two sets of stairs there is a line of stone lanterns contributed by believers. Most of them, however collapsed in the quake, and that’s not the only reminder. I climbed up to the top of the hill (300 steps) to the grave of Katō Kiyomasa, the daimyo of Kumamoto who built the castle.

Highlights of the Buddhist temple Honmyouji. The entrance at the top of the stairs, a stone lantern that collapsed during the earthquake, the graveyard, the main building, and the statue of a samurai standing proud against the blue sky

After that I walked around town for a while and checked out the B.9 V1 Live house, the venue where the concert was going to be held, and bought some goods. VAMPS brought their act Underworld to Kumamoto as a sort of improvisation, to “cheer the town up” after the earthquake. To be honest, Underworld is not my favourite VAMPS album, because the music reminds me of a lot of American hard-rock bands. Not that I dislike them, but in my head the songs sound like “someone else’s”. It is not a bad album but… it feels weak, and that shows in the concerts, in my opinion. However, they’re still fun.

Notice for the concert, reading B9 livehouse, Today's live is Vamps Underworld. Third floor.

After the concert and watching the departure of the band, we had dinner with a friend and then D****e and I walked around Kumamoto’s castle park, Kumamoto-jo Koen [熊本城公園] at night to eat ice cream and see the actual castle, Kumamoto-jo [熊本城].

The Kumamoto Castle at night. one of the towers, in dark grey and white, stands unscathed, but the main building is held behind a huge scaffolding and cannot be seen.