In an ode to my new home, this week’s manhole cover is from Kumamoto. (Surprise! 🙂 )
When we first came to Kumamoto back in July to house hunt, I immediately noticed the colorful covers just outside our center-city hotel. What I didn’t quite get was what the flowers had to do with Kumamoto.
Thankfully, a visit to Kumamoto Castle the other day cleared everything up. Apparently, the flowers are Higo camellias, named after the feudal name for Kumamoto prefecture. These gorgeous flowers – which can bloom in red, pink, white, or a mixture of two hues – were originally brought to this corner of Japan from Edo and Kyoto. Once here, they were cultivated exclusively by samurai on their local estates, resulting in a whole new strain of camellia. You can now catch glimpses of camellia in places like Kumamoto Castle and Suizen-ji Garden (a feudal era stroll garden a few tram stops from the castle). The best time for the blooms is between March and early May so plan wisely … and if you’re in the city for a visit, you’d better say hello!