Photos of Japan
One of the must-see highlights in Usuki is the Usuki castle ruins. Construction began in 1556 under the direction of Otomo Sorin, a Japanese feudal lord who once controlled large portions of Kyushu. Originally built on a small island just off the coast, extensive land reclamation in the area puts the castle on a small plateau near the center of town.
Otomo Sorin obtained a breech loading cannon from Portuguese traders and used it to defend the castle from an opposing army. It was the first time a cannon had been used to defend a castle in Japan, but worked only temporarily to surprise the invaders. A replica now sits within the castle ruins.
The Nioza Historical Road in the samurai district of Usuki retains a castle town era feel with its narrow alleys, high stone walls and several historic temples. The stone pavement turns black and shines when it rains.
The Ryugenji temple in Usuki is the location of one of only two three-tiered wooden pagodas from the Edo period on Kyushu. A local carpenter designed this 70 ft. tall structure, and with the help of an apprentice constructed it over a 10 year period. It is considered a designated cultural asset by the prefecture of Oita.
Though I lived in Japan from 2008 to 2010, I never had the chance to visit Tokyo. In July of 2016, while preparing to teach English in Japan, I attended a three-day conference in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. As I never travel without my camera, I couldn't help but try taking a few long-exposure shots of Shinjuku at night. I was pretty pleased with how these two turned out.
Soon after arriving in Usuki, my wife and I took a walk down by the sea wall near our new apartment. Among the many new sights, we were met by this little guy, who gave us about ten minutes of his time before scampering off between the concrete barriers at the base of the wall.