Kirishima Open-Air Museum On a trip to see the eruption of Shinmoedake in Kirishima volcano, we discovered the Kirishima Open-Air Museum. This was a real surprise. As you wander around a large, pleasant park of grassy expanses and a woodland of spindly trees, you can view the work of a variety of artists. Being an open air exhibition, it is sculpture based. The works are, however, of wildly different concepts. They range from the outrageous pop of Kusama Yayoi’s huge polka-dot shoes, to the enigmatic, sinister yet vulnerable “Insiders”. Antony Gormley’s frail figures lurking in the thin trees. There is perhaps something for most tastes, solid stone, spindly things that […]
In the winter of 2017 we set off on a “shachuhaku” circumnavigation of Kyushu. This account gives information and insights into various places of interest.
We take a look at the Ariake and then Amakusa. Then later, in the Ibusuki area, we visit the onsen with one of the best views in Japan. In Miyazaki there are swallows in December and a tropical shrine. Monkeys and Banyan trees add to this unseasonal feeling.
On the way home, we discover “Little Tibet” an unusual temple near Hita.
We hope this account provides an introduction to places not necessarily on the major tourist agendas. It also shows a Kyushu circumnavigation shachuhaku trip is quite possible even in December.
December 15th. Komo-jinja and Ao no doumon 薦神社、青の洞門 Our first stop of the day is Komo-jinjya not far from the michi-no-eki Nakatsu. The shrine is not very interesting but we enjoy a walk by the large pond in pleasant morning sunshine though it is still cold in the shade. The pond is the object of worship of the shrine. After walking by the pond, we drive to Ao no doumon to walk through the tunnel. Zenkai, an early 18th. century monk hand dug this tunnel to ease movement for local people. Little of this original remains, as a much larger excavation carried out in the Meiji period destroyed most of Zenkai’s […]
December 14th. A peaceful night at Yayoi michi-no-eki, cold but we sleep warm. The morning is chilly and cloudy and someone is erecting a Jerry’s Popcorn stall right in front of us as we emerge. Next to that, a knife grinder and seller, white K-trucks are delivering vegetables to the shop. Busy. Saganoseki Peninsula We leave, a little after nine am, but it is still cold. as we head for Saganoseki. Here we are surprised to discover an observatory at the end of Saganoseki peninsula. From this point there is a splendid view of the turbulent straits (Houyo straits) between Kyushu and Shikoku. The lighthouse on the end of Sada-misaki […]
December 13th. Ohmi Shrine Kimigayo rocks 大御神社さざれ石 Our first stop of the day is Ohmi Shrine. This is a pleasant place in a small cove at the end of a long sandy beach. The Shrine is a modest, unadorned, wooden structure perched on an interesting rock formation. Basalt columns, I guess. There is also a large rock called ‘Sazare-ishi’ garlanded with a ceremonial rope that, D. was surprised to discover, features in the Japanese national anthem. The rock is a large lump of conglomerate, that stands next to a natural, circular pool that was important in Jomon era dragon ceremonies. All this and a sandy cove too! A short walk through […]
December 12th. A very quiet night as the parking area is well away from the road so Kuni no Matsubara Osaki with its park, onsen, cats and large metal stag beetle can be recommended. The only downside is the toilet. It is clean enough but old and with no hand soap. Cape Toi We set off for Toi-misaki(Cape Toi), which has good views, a lighthouse and wild horses(Misaki-uma). We visited this place on a motorcycle trip 30 plus years ago and had fond memories of it. Especially the minshuku, or B&B. This place, despite our initial reservations, (it looked like a very tacky café) provided superb sea views, opera on […]
Arimura Lava Field A clear morning and a good view of Sakurajima. We can see the active crater which is on this side i.e. the landward side not the ferry port side. We head back towards the ferry port, however, as we want to walk around the Arimura lava field. This is an easy walk as the whole route is tarmac and the circuit takes only about 20 minutes. It is interesting to wander through these contorted rocks and wonder at the fact that these were molten flows. Sometimes this area is thick with fumes depending on the wind direction and the volcanic activity. I have also experienced the deep […]
December 10th. Ibusuki to Sakurajima. Tamatebako Onsen A good, quiet night so I can recommend Yamagawaminato Iokaido for an overnight stay. Quite a lot of activity on this Sunday morning, as people arrive to stock up on Katsuobushi. There is even a small bus tour, stopping to make purchases before 9am. We depart and make it back the 15 minute drive to Tamatebako Onsen. We are the first to arrive, still a few minutes early for a 9.30 opening. The entrance building is a modern, unimpressive, concrete structure which belies the experience within. Well, not the washing area which is small, only 8 washing stations, functional and rather cold as […]
December 9th. Kuronoseto Dandanichiba Dandanichiba was a little noisy during the night due to passing trucks. In the morning, from quite early, it was very busy and noisy, it being a Saturday. We watch as live fish are unloaded from a truck to stock the tanks in the michi-no-eki. The truck driver struggling under the weight of the fish as he carried them, one by one, in a net, from the truck into the michi no eki. Later we check the tanks and note very large Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack), Thai (Sea Bream) and beautiful mackerel swimming about. One Dandanichiba customer bought 3 or 4 big fish; pointing out his choices […]