What's Next for Kumamoto?

Just as everyone was tucking in on April 14, the first quake hit the city of Kumamoto. Even though the epicentre was deep, the shelves shook, the chandeliers swayed, the kitchenware rattled. The tremors continued through the night and the entire next day. The second one -- a  7.0 earthquake, struck just past midnight on April 16, right below Kumamoto City. Tipping tables and knocking over textbooks wasn't all the fierce quake did. The devastation killed 49 people and left 3,000 injured. Throughout Kumamoto’s urban areas, 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes and the city was left without water. Many families are still in temporary housing while waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.
Japan is no stranger to earthquakes. Buildings constructed after the 1970s are required to be earthquake proof. Many of the country's national treasures have stood firm for centuries.
Forest of the Fireflies at Takamori - Photo from Flickr cc by ageo akaihana
Unfortunately for Kumamoto, many of the city’s most celebrated attractions were affected. The tower gate and worshipping hall of the Aso Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest, collapsed. Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan's three premier castles, has closed off its main gate. One side of the castle fortifications crumbled, leaving only a few stones on one corner supporting the keep. The castle’s restoration work may take over a decade since each piece of stone will be placed back in its original position.
Kumamoto Castle — Photo by Yuki Fujimoto
Does this mean Kumamoto is no longer a possible destination? The short answer is no! Odigo recently visited Kumamoto to confirm that all the things we'd loved about the city are still around. Check out our video here!
Make sure you have a bowl of local ramen and try some ikinari dango (a local sweet potato snack). Stroll through the Suizenji Joju-En Garden and visit Kumamon Square, home of the city's beloved Kumamon bear. Of course, Kumamoto Castle is still open and visitors can enter through a side entrance.
Kyushu tonkotsu ramen from Komurasaki restaurant — Photo by Nathan Hosken
As Odigo was founded to share the best of Japan, we wanted to take it a step further to see how we could directly help the city recover. One of the ways is to raise funds to help restoration work.
Suizen-ji Joju-en Garden at Kumamoto — Photo from Flickr cc by Sara P
Since Odigo also has a Chinese social media following, we decided to join a Shanghai event with 40,000 attendees to fundraise for Kumamoto. Odigo will join other Japanese companies at Bilibili's Macro Link convention to raise awareness and funds for the city. Bilibili is China’s leading video platform for Japanese pop-culture and anime. Bilibili Macro Link is the company’s flagship event for their otaku (anime and manga fan) community. The two-day convention features performances by pop artists such as Uesaka Sumire, Angela, and Iguchi Yuka. Odigo will have a booth outside the concert hall, offering draw prizes, including a trip to Japan! Our company will be making donations on behalf of the attendees who opt-in to our fundraiser campaign.
Kumamon! — Photo from Flickr cc by Christian Kaden
Odigo is not just about showcasing places in Japan. We are an international team deeply committed to Japan's local culture and the livelihoods of its people. To that end, we also want to play an active part in preserving the things that make this country special. We're excited to be able to contribute our efforts to helping Kumamoto this weekend in Shanghai.
Even if you cannot attend the event, we hope you will join us on this journey! Please click on our Kumamoto page to find out how you can help and share this with any of your friends who understand Chinese! Also send our Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese posts to your friends!
Odigo fundraising campaign and draw prizes in Shanghai!

Athena Lam