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A moat-ly crew: Families take to kayaks for closeup of massive Japanese castle walls

Participants kayak in the Kokura Castle moat in Kokurakita Ward in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Sept. 17, 2022. (Mainichi/Maika Hyuga)

KITAKYUSHU, Fukuoka -- Families jumped into kayaks on Sept. 17 to get a close look at the massive stone walls of Kokura Castle in this southwestern Japan city from the landmark's moat.

    The Kitakyushu Municipal River Museum and castle administrator "Team Jokamachi Kokura Kyodojigyotai" organized the event for the first time to let people experience kayaking while also learning the history and other facts about the castle in Kitakyushu's Kokurakita Ward.

    Some 30 people took part in the event's morning session to see the castle's stone walls from the rare on-the-water vantage point. Organizers explained to participants that the castle's foundation is primarily made of natural stones brought from the mountains and the sea coast, and that the castle keep has machicolations -- openings to drop rocks onto attacking enemies.

    Kokuraminami Ward, Kitakyushu resident Takanori Uriu, 8, who was on the tour with his mother, said with a smile, "My first time kayaking was fun. It was great to see a lot of stones piled up."

    Yuko Keya, an 80-year-old Kokurakita Ward resident, said with satisfaction, "It was difficult to use the paddle, but I felt proud to be able to paddle by the castle."

    (Japanese original by Maika Hyuga, Kyushu News Department)

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