Monday, October 6, 2008

Trip to Kyushu

This is diary entry about trip to Kyushu island in the south of Japan. From all Kyushu, I am especially eager to see three spots – Shimonoseki and Nagasaki, plus volcano – Sakurajima in Kagoshima city.

Shimonoseki is located near narrow straits between Honshu and Kyushu islands. Nagasaki is further away West and Kagoshima is in the far South. All these destinations are slightly apart and are different in some ways. It is noticeable that towns in north of Kyushu are favorite destination for Asian tourists, especially from Korea.

Places I visited on Kyushu map:
KagoshimaKumamotoNagasakitravel to KagoshimaTravel to KumamotoFukuokaShimonoseki
People in Kyushu seemed to be very talkative. I don’t know how much they can speak English; put probably it is best place to study Japanese. If going to Kyushu, get ready for some nice communication.

Itenary was as follows:
1. Day - travel from Yokohama to Hiroshima
This was massive train ride across half Japan. Early start from Yokohama at 5AM and all day long I was changing local trains. Trains are very well organized and after I got to the last stop of one, there is another waiting for next section. Most of cases just short walk on from platform to platform is needed. I counted in some delay of about 1 hour, but this time all trains were on time.

Small stop to see Akashi Kaikyo bridge near Kobe.

Video: train ride from Hiroshima to Shimonoseki

2. Day - Shimonoseki and Fukuoka
After night in youth hostel, train ride to Shimonoseki. Train goes close to sea and from it - nice view on sea and coast. Shimonoseki surprised me with many interesting places. At least one day is needed to enjoy a bit of everything.

Town on the opposite side of Shimonoseki is called Mojiko. Seems that both towns Shimonoseki and Mojiko are competing with each other for having more tourist attractions as possible – Shimonoseki has view tower and Mojiko has view tower, Shimonoseki has Meiji era buildings and Mojiko has Meiji era buildings, Shimonoseki has British double-decker bus – Mojiko has rickshaws etc. I crossed to Kyushu by undersea pedestrian tunnel.

Next to Fukuoka is about one hour away by train. Fukuoka has very good selection of hotels for reasonable prices. It’s a big city like Tokyo or Nagoya, so nothing much to see in the city centre. Many big shopping malls there and beautifully built up canal area.

3. Day - travel by bus to Nagasaki
Here is highway bus to Nagasaki. Also, going by train to Nagasaki is possible or taking bus to Kagoshima.

Nagasaki is more rural and traditional. There are many places to explore beyond guidebooks. It was also interesting Chinatown, which is different from other Chinatowns in Japan, because it’s natural and live town - people actually live there.

Not far from Chinatown are European style buildings. These are turned into museums and therefore very calm area.

4. Day - travel by train and ferry to Kumamoto

I arrived in Kumamoto and it was very hot like being in the hottest place of oven. Notice that very few people on the streets.

I stick to Kumamoto town only and here I saw Kumamoto castle and Suisenji gardens. One day is very much enough for those two. Here is good selection on hotels in this town.

5. Day - travel to Kagoshima by train
Here reaching furthest point of trip. During my stay there was Sakurajima matsuri with fireworks.

6. Day - Kagoshima
7. Day - travel back to Hiroshima

This day again massive train ride to Hiroshima. I stayed in interesting hotel in city centre. It was cheap with many rooms on my floor, but there were virtually no other customers. My room door had big gap in the bottom. If somebody wanted, he/she could bend down and see everything in my room. There was internet included and night was uneventful, so it was ok at the end.

Hiroshima castle during night
Image: Hiroshima castle during night

8. Day - travel back to Yokohama

Left this interesting hotel in early morning. Again massive ride back to Yokohama, this time with stop in Kobe. It was really refreshing to walk around nice shopping malls and get breeze of sea wind.

It was difficult to find where to connect to internet in Kyushu and I also forget to check if hotels have internet connection, when I book them. I was expecting some kind of access in hotel lobbies at least, but it was not the case.

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