Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Japan - Day 8

Didn't do much today. The day was spent traveling from point A to point B, but unfortunately my stupidity forced us to go A to C back to A to B. So, we werein Aso in central Kyushu, and looking at the map I saw a track going along the east side of the island. So we went east, to the city of Beppu (famous for its hot springs), only to find that the shinkansen only runs along the west side of the island. So, after waiting at Beppu for a couple of hours we got on the very same train (with the very same lady controller), and once again crossed Kyushu.

It was a very scenic crossing of the mountains and of Aso caldera, so it is nothing to scorn at. I also had a fabulous lunch in the train, with sushi of several kinds and a healthy serving of salmon caviar. Yummy!

Once we got to Kamamoto, on the west shore of the island, we jumped in the shinkansen, and an hour later we were in Kagoshima. My unerring sense of direction brought us straight into the Sakurajima ferry port, and after a brief 20 minutes we docked in Sakurajima. It took a while to find the youth hostel, but we finally got there. The youth hostel looks a bit run down, and is not as comfortable as others we have been in. The lady who runs it looks like the Chinese landlady of Thoroughly Modern Milly, and the place has the same feeling of intrigue. I am expecting to see a Chinaman pushing a laundry cart every time I round a corner. It is interesting that it has its own onsen in the basement! However, the water is too hot to be enjoyable (and it is certainly murky and stinky).

I don't recall if I praised the hostels in Kyoto and Aso, which were new looking and friendly. They are a much better deal than the business hotel we stayed at in Tokyo, which was expensive and with a really, really small room. In contrast the hostel beds are roomy, the rooms are large and sunlit, and you have full kitchen privileges. This is important to us who need a few cups of coffee in the morning, because buying coffee by the cup is expensive (3 to 5 dollars per cup). Chris and I also like buying dinner at a market, and then coming to the hostel to warm it up and eat it in the jolly dining room. Oh well, we will survive the Sakurajima Chinese Horror House somehow.

We are excited with the prospect of hiking around Sakurajima volcano tomorrow morning. This is a very active volcano, which had 750 eruptions last year (an average of two per day), and has had 75 so far in January (five per day!). We are going to see us some volcanic activity!

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