We hopped on the shinkansen and headed down even further south! Goodbye Fukuoka! You were pretty cool. =3 It turns out the southern Kyushu stretch of shinkansen tracks is really new and doesn't go all the way through. You have to take two different trains to get to our destination of Kagoshima. First is the Tsubame Relay, then the Tsubame. They're pretty new trains and REALLY nice. Very clean and comfy with a lot of space! ♥
I was a little nervous to be going so far south… Both Nur and I were worried that people would be really racist, because it's pretty far away from the "usual" tourist destinations in Japan.
After arriving in Kagoshima, we got all turned around and couldn't find our hotel. I was upset because I was feeling ill. We went back to the station and Nur went off to try to find the hotel so I wouldn't have to wander. While he was gone, a random Japanese guy came up to me and handed me a couple of pages stapled together. Just… gave them to me and left. I thought it was going to be a flyer or something, but it turned out to be printed out information about the city and Sakurajima, the nearby island. It talked about the dangers of the area, the local specialties, places to go, where the best cherry blossoms were… it was really neat and handy! Thanks, random man in Kagoshima! I really appreciate it!
Nur eventually returned, and lead me to our hotel. We dropped off our stuff and headed back to the station to get on the train and head to our destination for the day.
This is Hayato's Wind. I think it's some high class train with some special destination, but I'm not sure. I just think it's an awesome train.
Tch. Nice going, card.
We failed horribly trying to get on the train. The train we figured would take us there went the opposite way. So we got to the next stop, got off, and had to wait 20 minutes for the train going back. We waited for another train, one going the way we needed, but the next train went the opposite way too. We decided to walk.
It was actually pretty far getting there… a bit over 3km, but we got to see some neat things on the way. Like Sundries. By What. No really, by What?
A-HA! I can tell we're near! I see boats!! And what is our destination today?
Why the volcanic island, Sakurajima! But to get there we need to take… oh where is it?
There it is! The Ferry Building! The ferry is super cheap, only ¥150 each way and boats are leaving all the time. It takes about 15 minutes to cross the bay. You can even buy udon on the boat. =3
The port the ferry building is right next to some historic stone battery ruins. There's not much to see, but the battery is where the people of Kagoshima fought off invaders from the sea.
On the ferry! I've never been on a ship that transports cars as well!
As we were hanging out on the observation deck we caught sight of Sakurajima letting off smoke after an explosion(?). According to those papers the mysterious man gave me, there had been over a thousand explosions from the beginning of the year to the middle of March. OVER A THOUSAND EXPLOSIONS ON A VOLCANO. And people live there. Actually, according to that handy paper, if Sakurajima really erupted over 600,000 people would be in danger. They frequently have volcano drills, just in case something like that happened. In 1914, Sakurajima exploded so violently, the surrounding area sunk a couple centimeters and the lava flow connected the island to the mainland. Sakurajima still seems to commonly be called an island, even though it's a peninsula now. AND PEOPLE LIVE HERE.
(Sakurajima is a composite volcano—they tend to erupt with violent explosions as opposed to your stereotypical "lava flows down the mountain" ones, like the traditional science experiment. Mt. St. Helens is this type of volcano.)
After the ooo-ing and aaah-ing at the smoking volcano, a group of children came up to us, said hello, and gave us candy. SOOOO CUTE. We started to unwrap the candy, but they stopped us! It was wrapped in rice paper, so we could just eat the whole thing. "Is it good?" They asked. We told them it was delicious. They gave me another. =D THEY WERE SO ADORABLE. When it was time to disembark, they kept saying goodbye. AHH! My heart! It hurts even now, thinking about how adorable these kids were!
Alas, visitors are not allowed up the volcano. It's just too dangerous. We're allowed to go around the rest of the island though! There's an old torii that was mostly buried in the 1914 eruption, but it was much to far to reach on foot. That's alright! Our time was short and our goal was clear! This was the path we had to take!
Volcanic soil is very fertile.
There were lots of pretty plants on the road up.
Guys, I was so sick. I was really dragging myself up this road.
I'm gonna write on the moss/ash mixture on the wall… sigh… everything hurts…
Ahhh, it's sorta strange that the summit of the volcano looks so far away even though we're not far now. You can sort of make out the three peaks that make up the volcano. Minamidake, the southern peak is active right now.
Eels are a specialty here. I think this might be an eel fishery? I'm not sure. Other specialties are Sakurajima daikon, the largest in the world (regular weight: 6kg, can grow up to 45kg!), and the world's smallest mandarin.
…………………that's like… 99pound radish. Volcanic soil is a magical thing, I guess.
Hwah… finally up the— WHOA! WAIT A SECOND!
It's… it's… A DINOSAUR!
We had reached our glorious, GLORIOUS destination: Sakurajima Dinosaur Park! The park is filled with many fiberglass dinosaurs. There are also some really neat play structures and the best slide in the world.
Nur offers himself as a light snack.
BUT THE DINOSAUR IS NOT HUNGRY! IT HAS ALREADY DEVOURED ONE PITIFUL HUMAN THIS FINE AFTERNOON!
Dinosaurs are not the only thing in the park!
Nur stands no chance against team Super Violence Tigers! Lets go, my friend!
Looking classy, sir!
I was feeling much, much better at this point. Nothing like play structures and dinosaurs to make the pain go away!
Oh Stegosaurus, you are the best dinosaur. Did you know? Stegosaurus's name in Japanese means "blade dragon." AW YEAH BEST DINOSAUR.
Do you remember when I said "best slide?" THIS IS THE BEST SLIDE. Huge and GLORIOUS.
And here is Nur on the WORLD'S BEST SLIDE. He recorded the amazing experience and even added music for all of you to enjoy:
The view from the top of the slide. You can see one of the play structures at the upper left. There's a second, smaller structure hidden by the trees.
Play structure conquered! It took some encouragement and an awful lot of mocking, but I eventually got Nur to join me.
Ferocious!!! It looks like the T-Rex is smiling. =D
He smiled for Nur, but he's not too sure how to act for my picture.
"So, my dinosaur friend, where shall we go from here?"
"Hmmm… perhaps you should explore the dark forest!"
"Thanks, dinosaur friend!"
There were tons of hawks flying about. They would swoop low over the park. It was neat.
The dark forest! Not so dark. There was a group cleaning it out, but they were taking a break when we walked through it.
Ahhh, it's about time to go! But first, one more go on the slide. Or maybe two…
Bananas~ Like I promised. They were little bananas.
I hear it's someone's job to clean up the ash that falls on the island. There's an actual job that's "VOLCANIC ASH CLEANER." This is all volcanic ash. WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE LIVE ON A VOLCANO? It boggles my mind.
Good bye, Sakurajima! We only spent a little time on you, but it was a good time!
Good bye!!!! Hey, if you squint, you can see the awesome slide! It's on the big hill near the water… the little white thing a little to the right of the middle.
As we left the ferry building, we encountered a boy's soccer team. They were really cute and tried speaking in english to us! Such a friendly group! And here I was worried that people would be rude and racist to us! Everyone we encountered was SUPER nice. What a great city!
Walking back to the hotel. Kagoshima has some neat big buildings.
They really liked Avatar.
This is Kagoshima's main train station. It's also a big mall. And it's pretty new too!
The view from our hotel room. Curses, our view of Sakurajima is blocked!
The hotel room itself.
We bought dinner at a convenience store. I couldn't resist the "Maple Sugar Latte Crunky" (which I still haven't eaten) and the banana-shaped banana bread thing. The wrapper for the banana read "This Castella is ripe banana flaver." It really did taste like an overly ride banana.
This was the reason for our convenience store dinner. Sasuke was on! It's only one twice a year. The show is FANTASTIC. It's sometimes broadcast here as "Ninja Warrior."
The Trek From Fukuoka to Kagoshima!
I slept horribly that night; I kept waking up with coughing fits. I had bought some cough drops in Fukuoka, but they weren't doing much to help. Needless to say, I was exhausted the next day… from both the lack of sleep and the pesky kitsune-curse cold. It was absolutely the worst day of the illness.
After a leisurely morning (ahhh, hot chocolate with breakfast felt so good on my sore throat~), we jumped on the Tsubame shinkansen for a trip north to Mt. Aso, another volcano!
Once we got to Kumamoto, we took a local train into the mountains. The train didn't take us all the way, so we had to wait for an hour at a tiny station part of the way up.
Slowly going up the mountain! We actually went on a switchback track. I didn't know they had switchback train tracks!
After we finally got up to Aso, we discovered we had to take a taxi or a bus up, or walk 6km to the ropeway we wanted to use.
I walked about a kilometer in the freezing air (honestly FREEZING. I had TWO sweatshirts on and I was shivering) before deciding my body couldn't take it and telling Nur I was going back to the station. Sorry Nur. He was kind enough to come with me. We saw this shrine on the way back.
Nur would like to assist me in showing you our various locations in Japan!
We got some food from a convenience store for lunch and I found "Nekopanchi," a manga magazine filled only with stories about cats. I'll scan some of it sometime, it's super adorable.
Hi Aso! Sorry we couldn't explore you.
The Aso 1962. They were going to put this into service about two weeks after we left Japan. So neat. *_*
You can see the hills in the background. I read someplace that those hills are actually the edges of an enormous crater. The place this picture was taken is on top of Aso's lava pool, so a hojillion years ago when Aso exploded enormously, the entire land area dropped down. The world is a crazy place. Perhaps the explosion that created Takachiho Gorge is the same one that created this crater.
This was in the bathroom of the Tsubame shinkansen. What does this MEAN? O_o
I forgot to mention (and I unfortunately don't seem to have any pictures of it), but the Tsubame Relay shinkansen looked awesome. Nur and I agreed that it looked like an Autobot.
You can't tell from this picture, so please just believe me. The magazine that guy is reading? Totally soft core porn manga. It was fun reading over his shoulder… from across the way.
The shinkansen area in Kagoshima station. It's so pretty. I love the stained glass and the poster on the far right wall.
This Tsubame screen-poster-thing is gorgeous too. I wish I knew where to buy posters like this. A little ways away from this was a wall with flyers. They had Kagoshima guidebooks. Pocket-sized books that had information about all the museums and hot spots in the area. …how to get there, how much it'll got to get there and get in, etc. It even had a map in a pocket in the back! All in english! And it was free! Kagoshima, you're the BEST! ♥
We explored the station/mall (I guess the mall was technically next to the station?), played games in the arcade, and bought bread at a bakery for dinner.
Wanna play some Lupin pachinko? No? I guess a lot of pachinko places have it.
Fine. Here, have some Yamato pachinko instead.
There was vending machine right outside our room and it had Kamen Cider! Of course, I had to get a can.
Map of our journey from Kagoshima to Aso and back!
Next time: Exploring Kagoshima! GLORY TO THE SATSUMA CLAN!