Another Silver Week in Kyushu
Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
5Trip End Sep 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
Something came up and Eda dropped out of the trip, so last week, I headed to Haneda Airport on my own. Sarah lives in the Nagoya area, so we'd meet up in Kagoshima.
The flight from Tokyo was just under two hours, which I spent sleeping, and then knitting. Instead of a book, I'd brought along yarn and needles, and planned on having completed at least one sock by the time I got home
Sarah's flight arrived only half an hour after mine, and we were out in the hot Kyushu air a little after one o'clock. Before anything else, though, we soaked our feet in the foot bath outside the airport; like many places in Japan, the area is famous for hot springs. This foot bath even had its own souvenir towels, which you purchase by honour system from a little stand by the bath.
Kagoshima Airport isn't actually in Kagoshima, but nearly an hour outside of town. We got on the shuttle bus, planning to get off at Kagoshima's main train station, from where we would take a tram to our hotel, but I was smart and looked at the map, and figured out that the bus would actually take us right by our hotel. So we got off at the nearest stop and only had to walk a block.
Autumn arrived a bit late in Tokyo this year, but the heat had already broken before I left for Kyushu. Still, Kagoshima didn't feel uncomfortably hot in comparison, just very summery. I was glad for my sunscreen, though. Overall, I liked the vibe of the city. It felt relaxed and agreeable, and the ocean air was fresh in spite of the heat.
After checking in, we set off to find lunch, as we were both quite hungry. Of course, when you're looking for a certain type of food, you're bound to be in an area where the restaurants serve anything but that. Still, we persevered, and finally found a ramen shop, slipping in just before they closed for their mid-afternoon break. The ramen was very good, as was their fried rice.
As we had planned for only one day in Kagoshima, we had to make the most of it. And by that, I mean climb whatever there was to be climbed. In this case, we headed toward the hill overlooking the city and the ruins of the castle walls. It wasn't a very long climb, and we decided that it was a warm up for the long hike we'd be doing two days hence. We had a lovely view of the city from up there, and I was struck by how white Kagoshima looked. Like many southern cities, in Japan and elsewhere, the buildings are mostly white or cream coloured. In comparison, Tokyo is very grey, a fact that I tend to forget, what with seeing it every day.
We could also see Sakurajima across the bay. Sakurajima is a volcano that used to be an island, but hasn't been since it erupted in 1914 and the subsequent lava flow joined it with the mainland
At the top of the hill, there was a little souvenir and snack shop, and many, many cats. Some of them were sleeping among the shop's wares, and others were hanging around, hoping for handouts. I crouched down and stretched my hand out toward one, thinking it might come and sniff at my fingers. To my surprise, it ignored my hand completely and rubbed up against my leg. Friendly locals indeed!
We stopped to pray for good weather at a hat-wearing statue, then walked back down to street level. From there, we wandered in the general direction of the main station, because Sarah, who collects transit cards from different areas in Japan, wanted to get the Sugoca, available only in Kyushu. Once this had been taken care of, we thought that since we were right next to it, we might as well ride the Ferris wheel, which sits atop the building adjacent to the station.
It turned out to be a very cheap ride, as far as Ferris wheels in Japan go: only Y500! I had fun taking pictures from up high, and ended up liking the way the city lights looked through the plexiglass.
There was a game centre in the same building, so we did a round of purikurano game centres, Kagoshima's covered pedestrian shopping streets were full of them, and there were purikura opportunities everywhere. Take that, Kumamoto!
We had eaten lunch so late that we weren't hungry for a true meal, so we went to Joyfull, a family restaurant, for a light meal and dessert. And so started a running theme of the trip, i.e. me getting to eat the food that Sarah doesn't like. Win-win! In this case, it was whipped cream.
Back in the hotel room, we got ready for the next morning's early start by doing our nails while watching television. Sarah's workplace has a very strict dress code, so five days away from the job was the perfect opportunity to indulge in girly stuff. We'd both purchased nail polish and stickers that afternoon, and set about prettifying our nails. I went with sparkles and plain fruit stickers, while Sarah opted for bright flowers and rhinestones.
Once our nails were dry, we set our alarms for 5:00, and said good night.