Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Kyushu day Four: Kirishima and Aoshima

Hello All,

Well, I made it through the night, and, to my disappointment, there was no knock on the door in the middle of the night telling me that the mountain was about to blow. I was holding out hope, but that didn’t happen, and when I woke up, the same little cloud was still blocking my view of the peak of the volcano. I did make it up for the sunrise, but soon went back to sleep for about an hour before heading back to Kagoshima. The ferry goes across the bay 24 hours a day, but the busses in the tourist areas had not started yet (it was still pretty early). I found the bus stop that I had used earlier, and figured out that I could make it halfway to the train station before the buses started. I started walking and after about 30 minutes of walking the fairs wheel came into view and I knew that I was getting close.

This was my view of sunrise from the end of the hall of the youth hostel



I got son the express train, and then decided that I would make a quick stop in Kirishima on the way to Miyazaki. I jumped on the local train, and then on the bus to the famous shrine in Kirishima. It was about a 20 minute ride, even though it was a tiny town, but I was soon hiking the short distance through the wood to Kirishima-jinja Shrine. It was one of the largest shrines that I have seen since I have been in Japan. I took a few pictures, but I was only there for about 20 minutes before I decided to head back down to the bus stop. I had wanted to go find some waterfalls that I had seen in a travel magazine I got in Kagoshima, but nobody could figure out where they were. I decided to go to the Kirishima information desk and see if they knew anything. He could not tell me any information about that, but he did tell me that I would have to wait over an hour for the bus to come to take me to the train station. Then, I would have to wait another hour at the train station to catch the local train out of Kirishima. So much for a short little pit stop.


I was about to leave the office when I noticed a picture of some different waterfalls. I asked him just out of curiosity where those were, and he told me that they were only about a five minute walk from the office. I took the little walk since I had so much time to wait for the bus to come. I found that the only way to get to the waterfall was to walk through a “restaurant” which was just a few tables next to the waterfalls. I walked through, because there was only a couple of people at one of the tables, and I hoped that I would not get into any trouble. They weren’t nearly as nice as the ones that I had found the picture of, but they were still very nice. I then walked back out to the information office and took a quick soak in the foot hot springs and tried to have a conversation with the older couple that was there, and the one older lady that spoke three or four words of English. I soon had to leave to go back to the bus stop. I decided I would rather get there a few minutes early and wait, rather than take the chance of having to wait another tow hours for the next bus.


After waiting the hour for the local train, I made it to the next large station where I could get on the express train again. I didn’t get into Miyazaki till it was already 4:30 and the Ocean Dome, which I had really wanted to see (it is the world’s largest indoor water park and only 2,000 yen ($20)), closed at 5:00. The lady at the information desk could see that I was really disappointed, and made the suggestion to take the train south to Aoshima Island. It was already late so I just grabbed a train timetable and ran back to the train terminal. While I was on the train headed for Aoshima Station, I realized that the train situation was as bad as in Kirishima, and because I realized that, I wouldn’t be able to go to Beppu anymore. Now I was really frustrated with myself. The only good thing was that I had found a night train I could take back to the northern part of the island and I wouldn’t have to pay for a motel (I have to be in Miyajima by tomorrow afternoon and that is why I couldn’t do either of these things in the morning).

Aoshima is the small island to the right

I decided I would walk around the beach near Aoshima till I had to get to the night train at 11:45 in Miyazaki. While I was walking along the beach, I realized that I had been carrying my swimming trunks around Kyushu the entire weekend in hopes of staying at a hotel with a pool, and had not used them once. I found something that looked like a restroom, but, just my luck all day, there was only Japanese writing on the entrances (no little stick figures with and without a dress). Of course it was in the middle of nowhere, and I could tell that the only person in sight wouldn’t speak any English and I was right. I finally managed to a get him to point to one side, and that was good enough for me. I got changed and walked down the beach, and I had been walking so long, I wasn’t even sure exactly where I was anymore. Then, to my surprise I found a white guy walking down to the water, and decided that I would ask him because he might be the only person that would find that would speak any English there.


It turned out that he was a German guy that had learned how to speak English perfectly while he was in Hong Kong. He showed me on the map where I was on the beach, and said that he was going to go for a swim. I decided that I would go in even though I didn’t have a towel. By this time, I didn’t really care. The water was great. It wasn’t cold at all, and we were able to go out pretty far before the waves got to high. We talked for a while as we swan around, and I learned that he had been traveling all over the world since he was just a bit older than me. He now worked in Miyazaki, and took the 20 drive to the beach every day after work. It sounded like a pretty nice life to me. The sun was starting to go down, and he said that he was leaving so I decided to get out too. He said that he had a friend that might be able to give me camping gear if I wanted to say on the beach.

Here is sunset from the bridge to Aoshima


We headed over to the friend’s house, and it turned out that he was German to and he was famous in the area for making pottery. After we all talked for a while, we decided that the night train would probably be the best option. I offered to take me back to Miyazaki, but I just wanted a ride back to the island (earlier, I went a bit further on the train because I knew I would have extra time, and decide I would just walk back to the island). We made it there just in time to see the sunset. I walked across the bridge and took a quick walk around the island. It was small, but I knew if I didn’t walk to fast it would be pitch black before I got back to civilization. It was a nice walk and I could see the waves crashing against the reefs.

I headed back to the train station, but since I had read the time table wrong, I had to wait half an hour for the train. I decided that I would get out at the first train stop in Miyazaki and walk back to the main station because I still had quite a while before it would be 11:45. I found something to eat and then went into Mr. Doughnut, because they were the only place open. I bought a few doughnut and found a table near a power outlet and started trying to catch up on the blog entries that I completed. I finally got on the train at 11:30, and found that I could have been using my computer the entire trip on the train. This was the only train that I had made reservation, and I had been put in the first seat, which has a little bit less space than the others. I soon that that there was a little outlet, which made up for the lack of space. Now that I am done with this entry I am going to bed because it is already after midnight and we will arrive back at Hakata station at about 6 tomorrow morning.

This was my view of Miyazaki from a bridge as I walked to the train station

Till next time,


Josh

For Map Click Here

Stats

Day:
Busses - 2
Trains – 7
Shrine – 1
hot springs – 1
Boats - 1
Oceans - 1
Islands - 1


Trip:
Buses – 7
Trains – 21
Trams – 2
Castle – 2
Bridge – 2

Streetcars – 5
Subways – 2
Museums – 2
Volcanos – 1
Hot Springs – 2
Boats - 2
Shrine – 1
Oceans - 1
Islands - 1


Monday, July 10, 2006

Kyushu day Three: Kumamoto and Sakurajima

Hello all,

Monday has come and gone, and I am now more than halfway through my little vacation. Since I was running around until so late last night, I decided I would do the opposite tonight and check into a hotel as soon as I could this afternoon. This morning, I went to Kumamoto Castle. The castle complex was huge. I thought I had found the castle when I found the first guard/lookout tower because it was at the edge of the complex, and I couldn't even see the main castle from here. I finally found the main castle, paid the entrance fee, and went in. The main castle looked even bigger for the base of the castle walls than from the entrance. I soon found that there was an entire school taking a field trip to the castle, and they were just getting ready to go inside the castle. I knew that I wasn’t going to stay long, so I decided to go in so I would be ahead of the group. I was halfway thought the first floor when the let the kids go. The all came running in at the same time. There were very few signs in English and I had been to many similar castles before so I was going pretty fast. Still thought, by the time I was to the third floor, there were already kid coming down from the top. I bet by the time that I was ready to come back down, all 150 students had made their way to the top and back out. After taking a few more pictures of the outside of the castle, I headed back to the streetcar that took me back to the train station.

From the train station, I took an express train the short distance to the Shinkansen station. I took the newest Shinkansen in Japan to Kagoshima. I was very nice on the outside and inside. Even though I was just in the regular non-reserved car, it felt like first class. This train was even faster than the express trains, and after only one stop, we were soon in Kagoshima. From there, I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do, but it was too early to go to the hotel and check in. I knew that I wanted to go to the southern point of the island, but at the information desk, the lady told me that that it would take a few hours to on a train, then half an hour on a boat, and finally another couple hours on a bus. I would then have to do all that in the reverse order. I decided instead I would just look around Kagoshima. I took a city tour bus (it gave an automated tour in English and Japanese) to the observation point for Sakurajima. Sakurajima is an active volcano and the main reason I wanted to go to southern Kyushu. To my disappointment, even though the sky was clear, there was one cloud around the top of the mountain, so I couldn't see the peak. The breeze was blowing, and the clouds were always moving, but the clouds stayed around the peak the entire afternoon. I left the observation point, and took the bus down to the ferry port and paid the small 150 yen fee.

When I got to the information center at the other side of the bay, I found out that there was a youth hostel it was only 2650 yen per night. That sounded good so I decided to check it out and see if it was late enough to check in. It was only a ten minute walk from the port, but it was still very hot and the ten minutes took forever. I got to the hostel and the lady at the desk didn’t speak a word of English, but I still was able to get a room. It was a very new experience for me. It was the first time I have gotten a hotel room, and not gotten a key. I went up to my room and picked out my bed from the eight bunk beds in the room. There was an air conditioner, but I could not find any controls to turn it on so I unloaded my clothes and computer (I figured it was safe because there was not another person in the entire building), and I left the room and headed to the visitor center. It was already five and the center was closed so I just looked around the lava field by myself.

I knew that I later wanted to go to Beppu which is a famous stop for hot springs. I had never been so I decided to go to a small hot spring place here that was almost empty. I made my way to the back and found the men’s side of the hot spring. There were two guys leaving, and there was only one left in the main room. I had read on the internet that you are supposed to shower first, and only get in the actual hot spring after you are completely clean. I started washing, but I guess that I was not washing nearly hard enough. An old man, the only person in the place, came over to me and took my washcloth and showed my by washing my back as hard as he could. My neighbor had that had lived in Japan had tol this was not completely unusual, but I was happy enough when he was satisfied and went back to his own stool. From then on, I scrubbed as hard as I could. There were two differen areas with water coming in from the hot springs, and then another smaller area off to the side. The other man had finished washing before me and I saw that that he would get in one, and then jump in the one off to the side and then get back into the first one. He went back and forth a few times then left, and I decided to get in the first one. It was much hotter than most of the hot tubs I have been in before. I then went and hoped in my the one off to the side, and silly me, I didn’t feel it or anything before I went in. But it took me about a quarter of a second to realize that it was cold water. Only then did I look in the back corner and see the blue colored faucet. I went back to the first one and to my surprise, it now felt much less hot than the first time. I now got up my nerves, and went to the other main area in the room. It seemed like it wad another ten or fifteen degrees hotter than the first one. I was glad that I was alone now because I only lasted there for about 30 seconds before it got too hot for me. I stayed in the cooler of the two for the rest of the time till I decided to leave.

I ran back to the hotel to drop off my dirty/sweaty clothes before going back to the waterfront to watch the sunset. After I walked down the path till I even found a “beach.” It looked like they had just brought a few truckloads of sand in and put a sidewalk around it. It was still very nice. I had my iPod, so I turned on some Jamaican music and pretended that I was on a beach in the Caribbean. Since I was going to be able to go to bed so early, I wanted to get up see the sunrise. I had asked another girl for a good spot when I dropped off my cloths, and decided to check it out now before it was completely dark. It was a long hike, and I just decided that I would be able to just see the sunrise for the end of the hall and the view was almost as good. I got some microwave pizza, and heated it up before heading up to my room (there was now one other guest, but I still had the entire room to myself), and trying to catch up on my blog entries. It is just too bad that there is no internet here. Well, it is time for bed now, and I have to sleep now if I ever want to make it up for sunrise.

Till tomorrow,

Josh

Click for Map

Stats

Day:
Busses - 2
Streetcars – 2
Trains – 2
Castle – 1
Volcanos – 1
hot springs – 1
Boats - 1

Trip:
Buses – 5
Trains – 14
Trams – 2
Castle – 2
Bridge – 2

Streetcars – 5
Subways – 2
Museums – 2
Volcanos – 1
Hot Springs – 1
Boats - 1

Kyushu Day Two: Yoshinogari-Nagasaki

Hello all,

Well, another busy day has almost come to an end. It is especially sad to see this day go because I didn't get t o go to half of the places I had planned to. I missed the Village that was created to look like Holland in the 1700’s (actually I stopped for about ten minutes, but all I saw was the end of the fireworks show and they were already closed. Oh well, I guess I will just have to come back some time. I could have spent the night there, but by the looks of the hotel, there was no way that I would be able to afford it. I also missed Sasebo, which is where the U.S. Navy has a naval base. I just read about it in the news because there was a new anti missile ship came in the last couple of days. Having said all that, I got to many places.

I started off the day a little late (I was on the internet too late last night trying planning the day) by going to the US consulate. For some reason, I had the idea that they would be open seven days a week. I was wrong, and all I found when I got there was a bunch of Japanese police wearing bullet proof vests. I didn't see a single American in or around the place. I wasn't a completely lost excursion; the consulate was right across the street from a park. The park had a lake with a beautiful bridge to an island. I could have rented a paddle boat in the shape of a swan, but I decide to pass this ti

me. The best part of the park was the band. When I got off the subway, I heard the bass drum almost immediately, but I couldn't tell where it was coming from. As I came into the park, I could see that there was a marching band going down the path away from me. I followed if for a while, but I wasn't catching up very fast, and they were going on the opposite direction of the consulate. After I walked around the consulate and realized that it was closed, I walked back into the park just in time to see the band coming towards me. They had gone all the way around the lake, but just as I started to get close, they stopped for a water break. I waited for them to get water and then they lined up again. The conductor gave a few commands in Japanese, but they were obviously very similar to the commands that we used at my high school. The funniest part was when he started them marching because he said "mark-time mark," which is the exact term that we use. It seemed like a very mixed group, some of them could have been in middle school while others looked like they were eight or nine years old (it might have just been my perception). One thing they did have in common was their instruments. Beside the base drum and a snare, everyone was either playing a recorder, or a strange instrument that was held like a saxophone, but had keys exactly like a little electric piano. I followed them as I made my way back to the subway, and pretty soon, they had a whole line of little kids marching along behind them.


I took the subway back to Hakata Station where I got on express train for a short time before taking a local train to Yoshinogari. The experience was different than traveling on the main island because instead of very old, very slow trains, even the local trains were quite fast and had leather seat pads and head rests. I arrived at Yoshinogari and it was so hot. I had been worrying that it would be raining the entire time I was in Kyushu, but instead it was almost as humid as Alabama and the temperature was higher. I got off at a shiny new train station (also unusual for such a small town), started trying to find the way to get to Yoshinogari.


As soon as I found the large map of the area, a lady came up and asked if I was trying to get to Yoshinogari. She gave me directions and for 200 yen kept my backpack for me (I of course removed the large envelope with my money and passport and stuck it behind my belt). I walked to 700 meters to the Yoshinogari, and that it was a very English friendly place. They had a talking guide for both Japanese and English so, even though I couldn't read the signs, the signs would be read to me. Yoshinogari was one of the first settlements in Japan and was thought to be inhabited almost 1700 years ago. From all the archeological information that had been found on the site as well as information from around Japan during the same time period, Yoshinogari was reconstructed as accurately as possible to look like the town as it did back then. There are even people playing role of people that would have lived at the time. The was one lady weaving, and another cooking traditional foods; she even offered everyone tea. I am not sure what kind of tea it was, but the bottom fourth of the cup was filled with something solid. The funny thing was that it tasted more like American tea than the Japanese tea I have started to become used to. I was walking back to the visitor center when I decided to pull the envelope with all my important papers out. To my horror, the entire cardboard envelope was soaked all the way through (like I said, it was very hot and I had been in the sun for the past hour). The only thing that wasn't wet was my passport. As I tried to dry everything out, I realized that I had about five minutes to get back to the train station or I would have to wait another hour for a train. I now jogged all the way back in my dark jeans and my dark blue shirt, and I think it is safe to say that the passport would have been gone too by the time I got back to the train station if I hadn't carried the envelope back. I made it back and felt l was going to die and I had just enough time to catch my breath before the train showed up.


I took the local train for a few minutes before hoping back on the express train headed for Nagasaki. This trip was long than I expected, but it gave me time for a nice little nap. We arrived in Nagasaki, and I soon found the information office and got an English map of the city and got directions in half English, half Japanese, which I am beginning to understand (nobody understands that I don't know a single word of Japanese, so I just nod along and get most of what they are saying from their had gestures). I jumped on the street car bound for the Nagasaki Peace Park. I accidently passed the stop so I had a little hike to get back to it. The main statue was enormous, very large and water was flowing all around it.

I looked around a while before heading over to the Atomic Bomb museum. Half of the museum was about the bomb that hit Nagasaki, and the other half was for nuclear warfare in general and all the bad affects it has had on humans. Neither part was very pro-American, and even claimed that the president knew that Japan was already going to surrender and used both bombs to justify all the money spent on the Manhattan Project. As in Hiroshima, there were many accounts from different survivors, both Japanese and foreign. These stories were all very moving, and some of the pictures were hard to look at for more than a glimpse. In the second part of the museum, they had videos of people from around the world that had been affected my radiation. There people from Russia, Germany, and even a lady from the US that had lived in Nevada near one of the test sites, and had three miscarriages so far. There was also a timeline of atomic research from countries around the world and the years that the thousands of atomic and nuclear bomb tests since the mid 1940s. I never realized the huge number of tests that had been performed both by the US, and by other countries around the world. The US alone has detonated over 600 atomic/nuclear weapons since the first one in New Mexico over 60 years ago. The museum finished with the current promises from countries around the world to reduce the number of weapons, but told that it was still not nearly enough.

By the time that I finished the tour of the museum, it was already 6:00 but I still wanted to see the Glove garden, which had once been the garden of Thomas Glover. I had actually never heard of him, but all the pictures I had seen showed the garden to be a very beautiful place. I got good directions, but it still took me over 45 minutes to finally find the place, only to find that it had closed at 6:00. I went all the way back to the train station to find out that since I had made that extra trip, I had missed all the express trains, and I had to take a local train to Sasebo. While I was on the train I was talking (or making lot of hand gestures) to a lady, I managed to learn that I would only have 20 minutes in Sasebo before the last rain, local or otherwise, would leave for the night. I had planned to go to Sasebo and then to

Huis Ten Bosch, but the main reason I wanted to go to Sasebo was so that I could use the ATM on the Naval Base (I read online that I could use my ATM card there). There was no way that I could get to the base and back to the station even if they let me on the base (which I was still not too sure they would do), so I decided to just go to Huis Ten Bosch.

Because of the fact that it was a local train, it took about twice as long as the express train and by the time that I got to Huis Ten Bosch, they had locked the gates too. I could have stayed the night, but by the looks of the hotel, it would have taken all the money I had for the one night. I did make if for the very end of the fireworks show which was a nice treat, and while I was walking back to the station, I met some Americans. It was quite obvious by the loud English and after finding out that they were marines from the base I started asking them about getting on the base. The girl said that they could probably sign me on to the base, but while talking to them I found that the guy had used his ATM card from a small credit union fine at the ATM in the post office, just not very many other places. This meant that I didn't have to go to Sasebo, and I still had time to get off the train after a few stops and transfer to a train that would at least be in the direction of where I had planned to stay for the night. I had a nice conversation in English for the part of the trip that we were on the same train and learned that the guys "old man" lived in New Mexico, and he had traveled all around during the summers while he was younger. He had even been to Roswell a few times, and commented about how big of a deal the town makes of the UFO incident (he even mentioned the alien street lights).

After saying a short good-bye, I hopped on the next local train that was headed for Tosu, where I figured I would spend the night. It was a good place because, from there, I could take an express train right to Kumamoto where I had originally wanted to stay. The ride on the local train was very long (I had already gotten spoiled by the express trains), but I finally made it to Tosu. To my surprise, there were still express trains running to Kumamoto, even though the ones on the other line had stopped many hours earlier. I decided that I would take the train so I would not start out the next day behind schedule. This meant though that I didn't arrive in Kumamoto till after 12, but I had already looked up a hotel so I thought that I was still ok.


I walked out of the station, but the hotel was not where it was supposed to be. I walked into the first hotel that was close to where I thought the other one should have been, but learned the rooms were 11,000 yen ($110) per night, when the one I was looking for had single rooms for 4,500 yen. I asked man at the desk if there were any places cheaper close by and he was very helpful and gave me a map and suggested the Route Inn across the street, where the rooms where 5,000-6,000 per night. I was studied the map while I walked across the street, and found a name that looked very familiar. The internet said that the hotel was 3 minutes walking distance from the station so I decide I would save the money and just go to the one I had planned on. After wandering around the streets of Kumamoto for about 30 minutes I finally gave up. I turned around and headed back to the station, and finally decide to ask a girl riding her bike down the street for help. She couldn't understand too much, so she called someone on her cell phone and between the three of us, she said that she thought she knew of a place for about 5,500 and I would have been happy that now even though I was quickly running out of money. We went in and soon found out that the rooms were over 7,000 yen, but he called the Route Inn and told us that they had rooms for 5,500 so I thanked the girl and headed over. When I finally got to the room it was already past 1 am, and I was dead tired from hiking around all day. I started this blog entry, but was way too tired to finish it and just went to bed.


Till next time,

Josh

Click for Map

Day:
Streetcars – 3
Trains – 8
Subways – 2
Museums – 2
Bridge – 1

Trip:
Buses – 3
Trains – 12
Trams – 2
Castle – 1
Bridge – 2

Streetcars – 3
Subways – 2
Museums – 2


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Kyushu Day One: Iwakuni

Hello all,

The first of my five day tour of Kyushu is now over, and I actually spent very little time in Kyushu itself. I finally left the lab last night (actually this morning), and got a little sleep before getting up and heading to the bus station. I missed the first bus to Saijo Station, but the second one was only 15 or 20 minutes behind so I just waited for that one. I arrived at the station just in time catch the rapid local train that was bound for Iwakuni. I wanted to try to use the ATM at the Marine Air Station here, but I also wanted to see some of the sights that the guys in the lab had suggested in Iwakuni, which is a way down the road on the other side of Hiroshima.

The rapid local was much better than the regular local and we made it to Iwakuni in less time than it would have taken me to get to Hiroshima if I would have taken

either the regular local train, or the bus. I left the train station on a bus headed for Kintai-kyo Bridge. It was built in the 1900s, and it is one of the most unique bridges I have ever seen. It is considered one of Japan’s three great bridges. As I was getting my money out for the entrance fee, a Japanese girl came up and asked if I needed my help. It turned out that she was getting married to an American guy this weekend. They (the couple and his parents) were all touring the bridge, and we had a short conversation as we crossed the bridge.


I walked the short distance to the White Snake Park. Next was a short ride on a tram to the top of the hill above the bridge. This was the location of Iwakuni Castle. It was very nice, but much smaller than Hiroshima castle which I saw just a few weeks ago. There were still many interesting artifacts about the culture of the time, and there was a great view of the valley till the fog came in and I couldn't even see the lower tram station. After taking the tour and getting my picture taken a very nice lady I went back down the mountain. I told the people at one of the little shops at the base of the mountain that I would buy some ice cream on the way back down and I wanted to keep my word. They had more flavors of soft serve than I have ever seen. I wanted to get strawberry vanilla swirl, but they only had vanilla/green tea, and strawberry/mango (and of course the flavors my themselves). Since they didn't have what I wanted, I decided to try something new. I asked the lady if the pumpkin was good, but she suggested the pumpkin/red bean combination. I didn't get a chance to have that every day, so I would try it. I would try to describe it, but I can't compare it to anything I have ever had before. I tried to go back over the bridge, but the man said no food, so I had took some more pictures while I finished the ice cream before heading back over the bridge and back to the train station.


I had spent much more time than I wanted at so far, but I still wanted to go to the Marine Air Station. When I got back to the main bus/train station, I ran into an American lady that said she worked on the base and told me that they probably wouldn't let me on, and the credit union would be closed anyway. I thanked her for the information and jumped on the train headed for Kyushu. I had wanted to stop at the bridge connecting the two islands, but it was already afternoon, so I decided that I would just have to take pictures from the train or on the way back. It turned out that the train went in a tunnel to get to Kyushu, so it will have to be on the way back. By the time I had made all the necessary connections, I finally got into Kyushu around 5:30. I found out that I had to go even further, to Kokura, before I could buy the Kyushu rail pass (5 days on any train for 16,000 yen, we will see if it turns out to be worth it).


The station in Kokura was huge, and every person that I asked where to get the pass sent me in a different direction. I finally found the place, and they had closed at 6:00, 20 or 30 minutes earlier. I got the attention of one of the ladies inside to see where else I could get the pass because I didn't want to stay the night in Kokura, and she was nice enough to get me the pass even though they were closed. I watched a singing group for a bit before jumping on the train headed for Hakata Station in Fukuoka. I was able to take the express trains now, so the trip was much faster and much more comfortable (there were leather seats, and tray tables, and even a snack cart that came through every once in a while). I had left my umbrella on two different busses so far today, but managed to catch the driver before left. This time, I left it on the train, and by the time that I realized it, it was too late. I know this must happen all the time because wherever I go, even if the place is empty, there will be five or six umbrellas. I looked down, and there was one leaning against the wall all by itself, and after waiting a while to make sure nobody was coming back for it, I took it to replace mine because I figured that I would need it soon.


I got the Hakata station only to find that it was even bigger than the station in Kokura. It is the main train, bus, and subway station for the largest city in Kyushu, and one of the largest cites in Japan. After finally finding an exit that lead to the outside, I was relieved to see right across the street was the Comfort Inn I found on the internet and the place I was planning to stay for the night. They had free internet, and a free breakfast, and the rates were pretty good for a nice hotel in a big city. I went in and to my disappointment, found that they only had smoking rooms left. I decided I would check a few other places and just come back if I couldn't find one. The person at the front desk gave me a map and told me the best place to start looking. The first few I tried were very expensive, but I finally found a nice one that was the same price, just without the free breakfast. It had started to rain, and I wasn't sure if it was the typhoon hitting so I decided I should just get off the street.


After getting everything settled, I looked outside and it had stopped raining so I decided I would go out and explore. I got directions to a famous street I had read about, and headed off on the subway because I couldn't tell from the map exactly how far it was. I got out of the subway station onto a street with the river running right next to it. On each of the bridges that cross the river, there were three or four musicians that were playing and singinf for tips. Between the street, and the river, there were hundreds of little restaurants. As I walked down the line, I saw that most of them were serving fresh seafood, and most of the fish were the ones that I have only seen in aquariums. There were even a few places that had tubs of eels and a grill, and you just pay 1000 yen and pick your eel and they kill it and cook if for you right there. I walk a ways further past all the restaurants till I got to a big sign that said "Canal City."


I didn't recognize the name, but I looked on the map and realized I was 3/4 of the way back to the hotel. I decided I would take a look around before I walked the rest of the way, and I soon as I got close, I could tell that it was one of the places I had seen pictures of on the internet, and had decided to skip because I couldn't tell exactly what it was from the description. On one side was a Hyatt hotel, and then there was a small canal with a fountain in the middle. I was able to catch the last of the water show and it was very impressive. Maybe not in size, but in quality was as almost as impressive as the Bellagio fountain show, and that is saying a lot. On the other side of the canal was huge shopping center that was five stories tall, with a surprising number of stores that I recognized. They had everything from GAP to Sports Authority, and restaurants from very nice places to KFC and Wendy’s. Most of the stores had already closed so I just looked around for a while before heading back to the hotel for the night. I planned tomorrow’s trip, and am now headed to bed. I hope I can get everything done, but I might have planned too many things for one day

Till next time,

Josh

Click for map

Stats
Day:
Buses – 3
Trains – 4
Trams – 2
Castle – 1
Bridge – 1

Trip:
Buses – 3
Trains – 4
Trams – 2
Castle – 1
Bridge – 1