On Friday, September 19th, we drove ro Hirado Island, which is about 35 km, but which took us about an hour to get to because of the narrow roads and slow traffic.  It was a beautiful day and Tamara had packed a picnic lunch for us to enjoy on the grounds of Hirado Castle.  This was Chela’s first picnic!  We arrived and Chela promptly needed attention as she had taken care of some business which we needed to clean.  We put her on the picnic blanket on a change mat we had brought along to change her.  We had scarcely begun the process when an older Japanese grandma came out of one of the stores and kept indicating to us to come in and change Chela there.  We finally figured out when she wanted, so we picked Chela up and took her inside where the grandma had us put her down on their tatomi mats to change her.  She also brought us a warm cloth to clean Chela up and she stood over her and fanned her with her fan.  The Japanese people are just so warm and helpful and they love babies.  She talked to Chela and kept fanning her.  It was an awesome experience.  Jerry and Benny then figured they should repay her so they bought some ice cream for themselves to enjoy.  We had an awesome picnic, although Chela was fussy and we took turns carrying her.  Tamara had made papaya salad which was really hot, so good think we had brought lots of water and drinks along.

The Hirado Castle grounds is also where Tamara and Benny came in the Spring to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival.  The grounds of full of cherry trees which blossom really early in the spring and is a Japanese tradition to have Cherry Blossom festivals.  These cherry trees had already lost their leaves as they are the first trees to bloom in the spring.

We toured the Hirado Castle and its grounds which included a stable for sumo wrestling.  The history of Hirado Castle is as follows:

“Lord matsura of Hirado became a 63,200-koku daimyo in 1587 under the power of Shogun Hideyosi.  He took part in various battles on the Korean peninsula, leading about 6,000 troops at the Battle of Bunroku Keichou.  After returning home, he built “Hinotake castle” here in 1599, but it was destroyed in a big fire in 1613.  In 1704, about 100 years later, reconstruction of Kameoka castle (Hirado Castle) was strated with the permission of the Tokugawa shongunate. It was completed in 1718 taking 15 years, 555,000 laborers and more than 1,180-kan in silver.  The totalarea was about 18 hectres and the uppermost main enclosure was approximately 50 m above sea level.  The castle walls consist of four layers:  the outer walls including Shirahamakaku, secondary and tertiary enclosures, and the main enclosure.

The view from Hirado Tower shows Hirado Port which was a base for trade with China and Korea thoughout Japan’s history.  A Portuguese ship entered the port in 1550, and Dutch and English people established trading houses by the port soon after.”  Absolutely beautiful view from the top of Hirado Castle!

We then went to see St. Franacis Xavier Memorial Church, a beautiful church built by the Catholics and completed in 1931.  We then took a walk down past the Church and some beautiful Buddhist Temples and ended up down at the Saiwai-bashi Bridge (Dutch Bridge) built in 1702 and walked on the Hirado harbor exchange open space and enjoyed a great ice cream cone.  Then it was back home, including the hour drive, which covered some beautiful bridges, hills and valleys, covered with luscious greenery.  All in all a great day.