I spent a bad night, waking every half hour with a hacking cough. Finally I got out of bed around 5 am and sat on a tatami wrapped on a blanket, waiting for the morning. It was still snowing. Finally morning came, I took a bath, and woke up Chris so we could get out of Sakurajima as early as possible. The boy took his sweet time, so it was not until 10 am that we took the ferry. No sooner had we done so that the skies parted, and Sakurajima showed itself in all its glory. Curses! Why couldn't yesterday be today? I was musing about that when a big dark cloud belched out of the summit. The volcano was erupting, as if trying to make fun of us! There it goes again!
Well, at least we saw it erupt. Let us now go to the ferry terminal to buy the tickets for this afternoon. Alas, it was not to be. The ferry to Yakushima island leaves every day at 8:30 am, so we will have to wait until tomorrow. OK, that requires a change in plans and looking for accommodations here in Kagoshima. The Lonely Planet guide gave lame directions to the local youth hostel, and it turned to be a very steep and tiresome wild goose chase, because apparently the hostel has been closed (I have the 2005 edition). Panic! Where are we going to stay? Chris had visions of spending another sleepless night at the train station. Fortunately we found a ryokan (a traditional Japanese hotel) that is not super expensive, and having taken care of the need for shelter we were able to think about being tourists again.
We visited a small museum on the construction of Japanese stone bridges (fascinating feats of engineering), and the Iso garden where the house of the local feudal lord was located. Another beautiful Japanese garden, where the attention to detail has created another masterpiece of harmony and serenity. We had tea at a traditional tea house there.
We rounded the afternoon with a visit to the aquarium. A very nice collection indeed, beautifully displayed. I saw a Whale Shark!
We are now back at the ryokan, washing clothes and recharging our batteries for the next adventure: A visit to the island of Yakushima!