From Ariake to Tokushima, by ferry
October 11, 2011
We went back to Shinagawa, from Atami, and then took JR Yamanote line, went to Osaki station, then changed to Rinkai Line, and fially got to Kokusai Tenjijo station. There is a pay-shuttle bus running between there and Ariake, where the ferry leaves.
When I made the reservation on the phone, I said we were a couple, so they kindly put us in a private cabin. Because it was a sleeper ferry, the tiny cabin had a bunk bed. We appreciated the privacy.
The departure time was 19:30pm, and the arrival to Tokuhima was 13:00pm on the following day.
Inside the ferry, there was hot and cold water servers and the dining space which was big enough. There were shower rooms and a bathhouse, as well, but I didn't try either of them.
In other cabins, there was a group of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Couldn't they ask the navy force to give them a space?
There were posters everywhere and it said: No violence, no molesting, and ... stop suicide! Everything was interesting.
Going through Shikoku
October 12, 2011
As soon as we arrived at Tokushima, we ate, and then jumped on the bus to go to Matsuyama.
The view was so different from what I was used to. It was my first time in Sikoku. People almost lived in between the mountains, and it was how Janan was like for thousands of years. The country I was born was very beautiful. People's smile made me feel so relaxed.
Although we liked Shikoku, we couldn't spare time there, otherwise we could never make it to Yoron Island.
We spend a night in Matsuyama and in the next morning, we took a train until Yawatahama and then took a bus until Misaki port. The view from the train window was astonishing. There was no ugly artificial object disturbing the view of the nature.
The local bus to Misaki port was almost empty through the entire route, and it was obvious that it was losing more than making profit. But it was such a cool way to travel. The bus goes from village to village, and most of them are simple fishing village with peaceful atmosphere.
As the bus approached the western end of Shikoku, the cape Sada Miksaki got narrower and narrower. I was fascinated by the harmony of human activities and nature I could feel in this area. Japanese traditions are almost built upon the law of nature. Japanese religion is Shinto, and it worships the dynamism of the nature. People used to see gods in every part of nature, in our long history.
Then suddenly, the sign of Igata nuclear power plant appeared in front of us. I was pulled back to the reality.
I checked the Google Map with my iPhone right away, and saw that the plants occupied a vast area. The size was almost ridiculous. It was more than enough to produce the entire amount of electricity these village people needed.
It was not worth risking this beautiful nature. I couldn't understand why some people could just build the reactors without considering about its consequences.
When we arrived at the Misaki port, sun was about to set. The windmills were working on top of the mountains around us. To the Saganoseki port, Oita prefecture, it took about 70min by the ferry. I was determined to come back to Shikoku in future to spend more time and know about this place.
October 13, 2011
Once the ferry arrived at the Saganoseki port, other passengers left with their vehicles. We had no choice but to wait for the next bus, and it was 1 hour waiting in the complete darkness.
The bus took us to Oita station in another 1 hour. We stayed in a hotel close to the station. The shower water of this hotel was onsen water. There are onsen everywhere in Shikoku and Kyushu.
In the next morning, we headed to Aso by bus, and it was raining so hard when we arrived at Aso station.
We were going to camp there in our original plan, but due to the rain, we decided to stay in a hotel instead. Villa Park Hotel was apparently the only hotel in walking distance from the station on the map, but later we found out there were some hostels, too.
Very unusual for a station in Japan, Aso station had free wi-fi, probably because the cell phone had no reception there. So I could make a phone call to the hotel with my then-boyfriend's smart phone which had Skype app with credit.
I did not have any anticipation, but this hotel was not too bad. It was almost like an amusement park of onsen. The buffet style dinner was dry and heated too many times, but the room was very nice; everything in the room was big from TV to bathtub, and the bathroom had the mountain view of Aso. The fare was pretty reasonable.
We went toMt. Aso trekking on the following day, but the sky was grey, so we didn't walk much.
Then we took a bus to go to the Kumamoto station.
October 15, 2011
As soon as we arrived at Kumamoto station, we took the long distance bus to Kagoshima Central station.
Our accommodation in Kagoshima was a very dirty and friendly hostel. We had the private room for two, where 3 can fit in, and paid 4,000JPY per room per night.
Any place I stayed in South America was much cleaner. I don't understand why cheap means dirty in Japan. But we were glad that they had at least washer and dryer.
On the next morning I went to a public bath called Nishida Sento, alone, leaving the washing to my then-boyfriend. This public bathhouse served onsen water, and it is not so unusual because Kagoshima is full of hot springs.
It was a very good weather, still like summer yet humidity was already gone, and it was my favourite climate.
Nishida Sento was an old simple bathhouse. I had almost never been to a public bathhouse in my life, till then.
The manager/receptionist was an old lady, and she treated me like a little girl, although I was already 32!
But I could understand why as I entered the female changing room, and then to the washing area. The average age of the customers was about my grandmother's age.
There were a middle age woman and her very old mother next to me. The daughter was helping her mother all the time, escorting her to the bathtub, washing her back... The mother was sitting in a proper seiza position while she washed her body, and her manner was quite elegant.
I could see how they cared each other. It was a Sunday morning, and the sunlight was coming through the opaque glass near the ceiling. The room was full of steam, and it was very beautiful.
We also went to aquarium close to the Sakurajima island. It was big and entertaining, and the best part for me was the display of the sea animals from the seas of Kagoshima. Kagoshima prefecture covers the vast area, including small islands and the seas in between.
There were garbage collection spots on the street, and besides each of them, there were black plastic bags full of black sand. This black sand was everywhere on the streets of Kagoshima. Is was volcanic ash constantly produced by the Sakurajima Island. The local people didn't seem to care at all, but the idea of co-existance with the active volcano was new to us.
To Yoron Island