INTRODUCTION to kyushu
Kyushu is the southern most of the 4 main islands in Japan. It’s an exotic place with active volcanoes and locales that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. I made a trip there during Golden Week after we had visited Yakushima and I still have very fond memories of it. Today I’m going to tell you about my experiences visiting some of Kyushu’s volcanoes and their surrounding areas.
KAGOSHIMA AND SAKURAJIMA
Kagoshima is a subtropical city located on the southernmost point of Kyushu island. It is known for the active volcano near by named Sakurajima. From the train station, my friend and I took the tram that scoured the San Franciscoesque streets until we reached the harbour. Sakurajima is big, really big, and it can be seen from almost anywhere in Kagoshima. It’s located on an island east of the city so my friend and I had to take a ferry there.
When we got to the island we located a shop and rented some bikes (I highly recommend doing this) and rode them along the Nagisa Trail volcano park.
It affords one some very pretty views of the volcano.
There is also a foot bath there, a nice relieve from trekking around the igneous landscape.
There are other things to do such as visiting a onsen (Japanese hot spring).
Mt. ASO AND SURROUNDING AREA
Mt. Aso is located east of Kumamoto. It’s an active volcano and tourists are not always allowed there due to the toxic fumes that can spew from it. Fortunately for me, there were no toxic fumes that day … that I know of…
AND just in case the volcano went kaboom there were special shelters too.
The next day gave us more opportunity to explore the surrounding area. That and it was sunny so we got a much better view of Mt. Aso this time around.
We spent the better part of the morning hiking up Kijima-Dake which looks like a crater but is claimed to be an ancient volcano. In fact the whole area is thought to have been a volcano once upon a time. The hike was very steep and thus taxing on the body. BUT since I was in Japan I could leave my backpack at the base of the mountain and not worry about anyone taking it. Getting to the top of Kijima-Dake made me realize that it was just like a donut and afforded some beautiful views of the surrounding valley.
Kusasenri is the most interesting thing to see from atop Kijima-Dake because it’s a meadow in the shape of a cone. Cow’s even graze there!
One can also get an excellent view of Mt. Aso
and the surrounding valley.
We made our decent and went to the local tourist restaurant. They served a local delicacy unique to the Kumamoto region of Japan called Basashi which is raw horse meat … It was … interesting. It’s uniqueness only marred by the galloping horses just outside…
Near the tourist area is another interesting site. Something I had never seen before. Steaming soil. And it was steaming only at this one specific area. I’m no geologist so I can’t explain the phenomenon but I can say that it was incredibly eerie and mystical at the same time.
There is so much to see in Japan so do yourself a favour and don’t pass up this opportunity to visit Kyushu, you won’t be disappointed.
NOTE: Considering how beautiful these locals were, I must say that the bus service at Mt. Aso was not very timely. We ended up missing our train because the one bus was late (very unusual for Japan but these things happen).