The Fukuchan Diaries – 秋の旅 part III

Change of continent and thermal shock: I went back to Germany two days ago and it was like landing on another planet… Osaka: 19°C, Frankfurt: 1°C…
Now, the 3rd but not the last post of the autumnal diary. First, the end of the trip with my customers in Kyushu and then, in a few days, my great 3 days stay in Yakushima, the subtropical paradise!

25.10.2016: Morning of the photographic heaven & journey to the south

Sunrise on Aoshima beach

05:45 – As I couldn’t sleep anymore, I went to the beach nearby and walked on the shore to Aoshima Island. Along the way, many surfers were preparing their board or already fighting with the waves. Others, like me, were just waiting for the sun to rise. As to grant me my dearest wish as photographer, the sky was perfectly clear, the air fresh with a small marine note.
06:20 – The sun rose directly behind Aoshima Island in an orange reddish sky. Wow, what a view! Admiring this gorgeous nature spectacle, I went until the Torii of the Aoshima Shinto Shrine and took at least 50 pictures!

09:00 – Bus trip with my customers to the Undo Jingu Shrine, an impressive monument carved directly in the cliffs, with a splendid view on the wild ocean and rocks strangely shaped by the erosion. It’s my third visit, but I’m not getting tired of the stunning scenery!

Wilderness of the ocean at Udo Jingu

13:50 – Beginning of our train journey up to Ibusuki, the sand bath town on the foot on Mount Kaimondake, my favourite mountain in Kyushu.

18:45 – Really tired from our trip, we are heartily welcomed at the Minshuku Takayoshi, a small but so lovely place with a really great cook. À table!

26.10.2016: One day with the best taxi driver of South Kyushu

10:00 – After a turbulent night (too hot, noisy…) and a great Japanese breakfast, start of a day with a “taxi hire”. This service is a mix of normal taxi and tourist guide. Our driver, Osamu-san, is a very funny man, joking all the time. He’s very fond of Shochu, a strong alcohol made of wheat, rice or sweet potato. But his wife is always keeping an eye on him and if he dares try to pour himself too much Shochu, his house-dragon will kill him with a glance!

Great nature at the Kagoshima Flower Park

First, we went to the Kagoshima Flower Park, a huge botanical garden which already delighted my parents last year. This time, on Osuma-san’s advice, we took the tourist shuttle. It was really interesting and not so tiresome for my customers. As many other places in South Kyushu, the park suffered a lot from this year numerous and strong typhoons. Everywhere uprooted trees and damaged areas… In any event, this park delighted my customers too, especially the woman, who is a real flower specialist. She knows almost every flower by name, I can learn a lot from her!

Photo shooting at Cape Nagasakibana, with view on Mount Kaimondake

Then, Osamu-san brought us to the Nagasakibana Cape, with its great view on Mount Kaimondake. This extinct volcano has the same symmetric shape as Mount Fuji and is called for this reason the Satsuma Fuji (Satsuma = former name of the South Kyushu region of Kagoshima). After the obligatory photo sessions, we drove to our last destination of the day, a former salt production plant, near the Fushime Hot Spring. While the site is already abandoned for a long time, the geothermic activity didn’t stop and hot fumes are still emerging from everywhere. Impressive place with a stunning view on the sea and the mountains around!

On the evening, another great dinner at Minshuku Takayoshi, with the best tempura of all time!

The best tempura ever at Minshuku Takayoshi

27.10.2016: Of geothermic eggs, the realm of the eels, rice pot lid and seahorses

As one of my customers got ill, he stayed at the pension and I went alone with his wife for the last exploration day in South Kyushu. We had to change and lighten the schedule but it wasn’t a problem for Osamu-san, the best taxi driver ever, who put together a great program!

Onsen-Tamago at Unagi Hot SpringFirst, we went to the Unagi lake district. Unagi means “eel” in Japanese and everything there is called Unagi: the lake and its eels, the village, the hot spring and even its owner! This place was the favourite hot spring of Saigo Takamori, the revolutionary hero of Kyushu during the second part of the 19th century. We didn’t have time to take a bath in this hot spring (and 47°C is way too hot for my customer…) but as Osamu-san is befriended with Miss Unagi, the owner of the place, we could see how the Onsen Tamago (eggs boiled directly with the steam of the earth) are prepared and tasted them!

Then, we drove on to the other lake of the region, Lake Ikeda, much bigger that Lake Unagi and home of the biggest eels Japan’s (about 2 m long…), a protected species. We saw them in aquariums, they are really huge and ugly. This place is also famous for its view on Mount Kaimondake, but today the Satsuma Fuji is hiding behind clouds… Osamu-san brought us to another good Kaimondake photo spot with many pine trees, but many of them are ill, just like in Europe.

Afterwards, we went to the Kamafuta Jinja, a Shinto shrine famous for its rice pot lid. According to the legend, the people of the village cooked rice to celebrate the visit of the Emperor. In South Kyushu cooking rice was something special, because it’s not possible to harvest rice in the region, due to the volcanic soil. A gust of wind blown away the lid of the rice pot, which landed on the ground of the Shrine. Since then, it is custom to walk from the Torii gate to the main building with a rice pot lid on the head. People who can reach the building without letting fall the lid will be happy forever! Of course, we tried it and mastered the challenge!

Seahorse Museum

Third stage of our journey, an interesting seahorses’ museum on a beautiful but sadly not properly maintained site with another great view on Mount Kaimondake. Then, to conclude this second great day with Osamu-san, he drove us to the southernmost railway station of Japan. Apart from the view on Mount Kaimondake (really omnipresent this volcano!), which is ok but not exceptional, it’s a typical tourist photo spot and we had to comply…

That’s the end of the 3rd part of my diary, but the trip isn’t over yet! I’ll post soon the story of my journey to Yakushima. See you!