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,


Click for Map


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

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

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


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