After breakfast, we were taken to a very well preserved Japanese village called Kukokawasou (黒川荘) in the Aso District (阿蘇郡) in the Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本縣).
It was a very green village with trees going back to nearly a century ago but still going strong.
The tunnel was all covered with creepers.
The sun has just come up.
It was a village full of old restaurants and inns some of which have in house hotspring spas.
It has retained its old water tanks
and old wood and bamboo structures.
The village is built around a stream spanned by bridges.
The tidy stream
In front of many houses, we find strings of maize hung out to dry under the eaves.
A tasteful advertising sign advertising various delicacies including horse meat sashimi.
This one specializes in honey.
Another specializes in rice and roots.
The front of the restaurant is supported by timber pillars.
The stream has been tamed.
They still use firewood here.
The slopes behind the village are planted with all kinds of flowers.
Sunlight is streaming into the narrow lane.
A kind of involuntary art on this door?
A reflection of the opposite side of the narrow lane
The famous wooden bridge built several centuries ago
The village is built upon at the bottom of some slopes
The villagers here love to decorate the front of their houses with all kinds of flowers.
All kinds of potted plants
Shadows on trees on the walls
Another potted plant
Perhaps for this old lady taken out for her morning walk or
and this pair of young lovers?
Free beauty treatment by with steam from the hotspring here
It's Children's Day (5th May each year since 1948) in Japan: The carp hung outside the wall of the house indicates that this family has got one male child! On this day, many Japanese families would hoist up the carp-shaped koinobori flags (carp because according to the Chinese legend, a carp that swims upstream past a certain point would become a dragon) The way the flags blow in the wind is made to look as if they are swimming, with one carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child (traditionally each son). Some families would also display a Kintarō doll usually riding on a large carp, and the traditional Japanese military helmet, kabuto, as a symbol of strength and vitality.The day was originally called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句), and was celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. After Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar, the date was moved to May 5. Until recently, Tango no Sekku was known as Boys' Day (also known as Feast of Banners) while Girls' Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3. In 1948, the government decreed this day to be a national holiday to celebrate the happiness of all children and to express gratitude toward fathers as well as mothers and was renamed Kodomo no Hi.
We're nearing the end of the lane turning left
The lower portion of some of the traditional Japanese style wooden window have now been replaced by the more durable aluminum frame with plastic window panes.
More flowers outside one of the houses
The side of the paths have also been planted with different kinds of flowers
Some roadside daisies
and purple orchids
And these beautiful white flowers
and this cactus flower
A blue tent serving as a makeshift garage and storage space
Rusty patterns: a pig, a fox & a cat?
A small hotel or family inn
A garden full of flowers
Flowers in bloom on the slope to the right of the path
A delicate Japanese maple
More flowers on the side of the path
The stone wall is full of creepers and mosses
The other end of the stream: not a single plastic bag!
Wild flowers on one side of the stream.
on our side of the stream too!
The Black Stream which gives the village its name?
Our directions to go back to the waiting coach after this pleasant morning stroll around this picturesque village.