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 as the shop clerk fished them out of the tank.
We buy 3 lemons.
Kuronoseto is famous for fishing. It is one of the three major rip tides in Japan. The tide squeezed in the narrows between Nagashima, where Dandan ichiba is located, and the mainland of Kagoshima prefecture, is very strong, creating whirlpools.
Moving out, around half past nine, we make for Izumi to see the Tsuru (cranes).
Cranes at Izumi
These birds are concentrated around the viewing centre but are spread, more thinly, across the surrounding fields. There is no charge for parking and anyway the roads through the fields offer plenty of opportunity to stop, observe the birds and take a picture.
The Tsuru here are smaller than those in Tsurumura in Hokkaido, being a mix of Hooded and Common cranes. Those in Hokkaido are Japanese cranes, an altogether larger and more elegant bird. The flocks in Izumi appeared to be in family groups; the young birds still with their parents.
Leaving the Tsuru, we continue down the coast until we stop at Fukiagehama Beach. We wander along this expanse of coarse sand. The beach is very long but not very wide and is backed by low dunes that appeared to be eroding. There were a lot of shells and I collected a handful of Sand Dollars. There was also a good deal of pumice but, surprisingly, little rubbish.
Following the coastline
Heading for Ibusuki we follow the coast road but not all the way to Noma-misaki as we are pushed for time. The short cut we take makes for an exciting drive along very narrow roads and patches of very dramatic coastline(R.226). We make a mental note to return to this area and explore more fully. As we approach Kaimondake(Mt. Kaimon) -always a surprise, like a giraffe – we think we can see Yakushima but this we realize later is not the case.
It is about sunset when we arrive at our destination Tamatebako onsen. It is a Saturday night and the nearby onsen, Healthy Land Onsen Hoyokan, is closed for some reason. This has produced a long queue at Tamatebako something we are not prepared to do.
We have visited this onsen before, also in December but that was just before New Year and it was virtually deserted. It is perhaps the most spectacular rotenburo I have had the pleasure to soak in. I suggest you try it just, not on a Saturday night.
We Google an alternative and drive 15 minutes or so to Ibusuki but find, on arrival, that it is on the main road and has parking for only 4 cars. All spaces are full so we have no choice but to drive on.
We give up the bath, I have driven too far again so we head back to the michi-no-eki Yamagawaminato Iokaidou.
This michi no eki is in the fishing port area. The toilets are clean, it is quiet, flat and there are one or two obvious overnighters. It is warmer than last night, this is after all the most southerly michi no eki in Kyushu. It is famous for Katsuobushi; as John Lennon once called an album – Shaved Fish.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.