Discovering Hiroshima Castle aka Carp Castle or Rijo Castle

From the brochure of the castle, I got to learned that the castle is also know with a different name. Hirsohima Castle is also famous as Carp Castle or Rijo Castle in Japanese. The area where the castle was built known to be Koi-no-ura (Koi Sea Shore) and “Koi” means Carp in Japanese. Good to know the origin of the castle name.

After strolling around Peace Memorial Park, we targeted other parts of the downtown but because most of the places to see are museums which require more time, we ended ourselves exploring the Hiroshima Castle. Before reaching the castle we passed Hiroshima Museum of Art. Then we crossed the underground walkway to the castle.

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And not far from the street where we emerge from the underground walkway, we saw the Second Compound or Ninomaru of the castle where the Main Gate and surrounded Turrets are located. We walked towards the said gate. Before we crossed the Gate Bridge to the Main Gate, we stopped for few photo shots moment.

Ninomaru (Second Compound)

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Bridge Gate, Main Gate and Turrets (Yagura)

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Moats that surrounds the castle from the Gate Bridge

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Omotegomon (Main Gate)

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Hira-Yagura (One-Layer Turret)

We crossed the bridge and entered the Main Gate. We walked a bit towards the middle of the compound and I looked around and observed. I saw a door located at the corner, part of Hall Turret (Tamon-Yagura) and I walked and climbed towards it. My family followed me and we took off our shoes then put it on the shoe cabinet available near the door. Next, we stroll the Hall Turret and there we saw different exhibits. At the end of Hall Turret is Taiko-Yagura (Two-layer Turret) where the drum at the second part and used before for Samurai sally out.

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Main Entrance and Hira-Yagura (One Story Turret) captured from inside of Ninomaru

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One of the drums at Taiko-Yagura (Two-Layer Turret) used for signals

After looking around at Taiko-Yagura and Tamon-Yagura, we walked back and reached inside the Hira-Yagura and the top of the main gate.

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Inside the Ninomaru Omote Gate  (the top layer of Main Gate)

 

Inside Hira-Yagura (One-layer Turret)

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Ruins of Ninomaru (basepoint to defend the gateway of the castle)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery after crossing the walkway towards Main Compound (Honmaru)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery while leaving the castle ground

Honmaru (Main Compound)

When we reached the Main Compound of the castle, the first thing we saw was Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja Shrine where we saw another stone gate similar to what we saw in Miyajima Island. The original shrine has already built in two locations, the shrine was also destroyed by atomic bomb. When the decided to rebuild it, it was rebuilt after the war within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. As per history, the purpose of building the shrine is to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims during the Boshin War (Japanese Civil War).

 

 

Photos of Hiroshima Gokoku Jina Shrine

We moved forward nearing the castle tower, but before we reach the tower itself, we have other stuff that we saw within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. We found the location of ruins of Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters. After reading the brochures in my hand, I’ve got to understand, why Hiroshima was possibly the main target of atomic bomb attack, its because of the castle ground was a military base. And I also learned that the base was also use to infiltrate the plan of Allied forces during World War II, in a war like that, a military base can be a main target for attack.

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Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters Ruins

At the ground, we also  found a castle ground map that looks like inscribe in a metal piece and put in a stone.

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Hiroshima Castle ground map

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The original foundation stones where the Castle Tower was built

As we walked towards the castle, I got more excited, I knew it was not the original tower, because like other buildings in Hiroshima City, it was also destroyed during the atomic bomb attack. The castle location is in the corner most of the ground and in an upper layer that we need to climb few steps of the stairs. The restored castle tower shows what its look before the second world war, thus we enjoyed the photos outside before we decided to enter the tower. The castle tower now served as museum before the war. We paid the entrance fee and ready to explore the building. At first, I never realized how many floors the castle has and when we were strolling around it, I just learned that it has 5 floors. All floors has exhibits and I cannot really take photos because there’s portion of the exhibit not allowed to take shots. But as far as I remembered, I still sneaked some shots inside the museum thought it was not too many unlike other museums where photography is allowed.

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Castle Tower (now a museum)

Each floor showcases different exhibits that portrays Hiroshima. At the first floor, there’s displays about Ancient Hiroshima, Castle History, its government, life inside the castle, its defense and even different castles in the world can be seen. At the second floor, the exhibits are more of castle town life and culture where it includes samurai versus townsfolk lifestyle. In the third floor, we saw different weapons and armors displays. The fourth floor currently displayed that time has a theme of life and progress of  Hiroshima Castle Town.

 

Some Exhibits displayed inside Hiroshima Castle Tower

We reached the final floor or fifth floor which called as Observation Platform. We stayed a bit in the floor because it offers a scenic views that surround the castle in many ways. Because the castle ground surrounded by trees and green plants and moats, I can sense how Japanese has great pride in their castle. Aside from having yagura or turrets that protects the castle grounds, there is moats that prevents the invaders to reach the castle  easily. If you are a strategist, it is a great place as well for military bases. And that’s what happened to Hiroshima Castle.

 

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Scenic snapshots that surrounds the castle ground and the moats from Castle Tower Observation Deck

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Remembering Banff – Part 1

One of the astonishing and surprising place that I had a chance to visit in Canada is Banff. Banff is one of the municipality in Alberta which located within National Park. From my previous blog, I described my first day in Banff and introduced all the places that I had been. Right now, I am remembering my second day in Banff together with all the places I had a chance to see.While traveling around Banff National Park, I cannot deny that I love mountains around this park. Names of the mountain has its own reasons while they call them as that. For example, Castle Mountain, anyone will immediately understand after seeing this mountain and heard its name why it was called as Castle Mountain, the reason is, mountain looks like a castle.

Castle Mountain

There is Cascade Mountain which can be easily found along Banff Avenue. I thought at first that this mountain is located at the end of Banff Avenue but it is not. Its peak is really fantastic. Seeing this mountain and some snow on its top overwhelm me. The picture I have for Cascade mountain also portrayed that Banff Avenue seems to be busy during spring season and there were lots of tourist coming by to visit Banff.

Cascade Mountain

First destination – the Bow Falls and the Bow River which located at the bottom of Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel. I both admired the Bow Falls and Bow River after we drove and stopped over at the River Avenue.

Bow Falls

Bow River

Then, we ascended to Tunnel Mountain and stopped at lookout view-point in Buffalo Street, from there, we were able to glimpsed the famous Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel that looks like a castle in the middle of the valley.

Fairmont Banff Spring Hotel

Next, we turned around and followed the path of Tunnel Mountain Road where we found Hoodoos at the bottom of the road and above the Bow River. We had also got a chance to view Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain on a different angle from Tunnel Mountain Road and I cannot deny to myself that I am still surprised on the scenery that I saw. I also found out that Tunnel Mountain near in Banff town site is a mountain in the middle of the Bow Valley.

Mount Rundle

Sulphur Mountain

We paid visit to Cave and Basin, a historic place that is being preserve and now a tourist spot. Cave and Basin are famous of its stinky hot spring which located inside the cave. The reason it is stinky, because of the stinky smell of sulphur within the hot spring. Right now, no one is using the hot spring because there is an endangered species living in the hot spring, they call it as Banff Spring Snail, a snail that can be only found in Cave and Basin. Cave and Basin also displays historic stuff in a museum and it has a movie house that shows history or documentary films. We also found an empty pool – based on history, it was a swimming pool to heal sick people.

Cave and Basin Historic Site

The Cave


Inside the Museum


Old Pool

After Cave and Basin, we went to Lake Minnewanka. I had to admit that the panoramic view of this lake really astounded me. I never expected a lake with its beautiful color. The water is so clear at the side of the lake and has a light blue color in the middle. My heart is really fulfilled with happiness after I saw this lake.

Lake Minnewanka

We also tried to visit another two lakes: Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. While on our way to Moraine Lake, we thought that the lake was still closed but we were lucky that it was open and we were able to see Moraine Lake. Next, we stop over in Lake Louise. There were many people in the lake. Lake Louise is bigger than Lake Moraine and I cannot compare its beauty to Moraine Lake because the two lakes are well-known of its fascinating lake views. And I think whatever the season, they are both stunning. When I paid visit to the two lakes, both of them has still icy water due to winter just recently over but, I still found them as wonderful as it can be. Another note, Lake Louise was named after Princess Louise, one of the daughter of Queen Victoria.

Lake Louise

Moraine Lake

Last destination in my second day tour, we went up to Mount Norquay, one of the famous mountain that is popular in skiing activities. From Mount Norquay, we were able to see the Bow Valley as a whole. We saw Banff town site in another perspective, same with Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain.

Banff View from Mount Norquay

I really feel like the nature is very close to me while I am at Banff.