Japan Day 39: Beppu

So today is a typhoon day and I’ve been fairly lucky to have missed the big ones in my travels. I’ve been away from the edge of the typhoon and this one looks like another bad one. Fukuoka was just windy (very windy) and there were some cancelled trains on the Kagoshima line. I heard the wind blew something across the tracks and delayed a bunch of trains.

Almost the same breakfast as yesterday.

I got to the station early to get my last reserved seats on my railpass. I’ll have to pay cash for everything from here on out. There was a long line, of course, but I’m not sure it’s because of people rescheduling their canceled trips. I think Hakata is always a shitshow in general.

Anyway, here’s my train. It went up to Kokura, and then went backwards to Oita. Or maybe it was going backwards to Kokura. I dunno. Either way, it was late!

I got to Beppu late, of course, and dropped off my bags at my hotel. It’s so-so. I went to the tourist bureau and of course they told me to check out the hells. Honestly, Jigokudani in Noboribetsu was a lot cooler. There’s only so many variants on geothermal springs you can see so some of them got gimmicky.

This next one had a bunch of hot springs and they showed you how smoke would interact with the superheated water and create steam.

And this is all I had for lunch. The pepper flakes just made me cough and didn’t really add to the flavor of the ice cream.

I think this next hell knew they were so boring that they took the water and made a crocodile farm.

There was a huge guy next to this one and I was lucky enough to see feeding time. Those guys can jump and the big guy was 20+ feet I bet.

The next boring hot spring had tropical fish.

I guess this is what piranhas look like.

I went to the trouble of taking a bus to the last two hot springs. This is “blood lake”. It’s much less impressive in person.

And as long as I was there I waited 45 minutes for the geyser to go off.

I got back to town and checked into my hotel but I decided to find some eyeglass cleaner for my brand new eyeglasses. The instructions say use the proper cleaning cloth and make sure you wet them first with the proper blah blah blah. I know I’ll do that for the first couple of months at the most.

Then I went looking for dinner. The hotel suggested two izakaya and two teishoku places and I went to a teishoku place. And overate because I hardly ate anything today.

That beer in the background is the only one I had.

Tomorrow I’m winging it because I don’t know if the ferry is running. If it is I take a ferry across to Yahatahama, and then have to get a ticket on the train to Matsuyama. Always an adventure on the Shikoku ferries. Lots of web sites in Japanese and I can hardly figure out what they’re talking about.

Japan Day 38: Fukuoka

Oh boy. I met a guy from Albuquerque who was originally from Australia and we watched the rugby game together. Once again I’m going to be posting later in the day/morning because I stayed out too late.

I started out the day pretty simply, at the Pronto across the street. I like these easy breakfasts.

I went to the station to ask what I should see and they said Dazaifu. That wasn’t on the web sites but it looked interesting so I got on the 40 minute bus ride to Dazaifu. It might just be another shrine, but there was a museum nearby and that sounded interesting.

I wanted to do the shrine thing so I had to line up behind a whole high school’s worth of kids. I overheard one of the boys and he said he was going to wish for a girlfriend. I should’ve told him it hasn’t worked for me so he might want to reconsider, especially since I think is traditionally where you pray for academic success.

Behind the shrine was a Inari shrine. I forgot what the Inari shrine was supposed to deify, but I started to think Inari was the god of staircases.

Two interesting features: instead of one bell, there were 12 bells for each sign of the Chinese zodiac, plus the main bell.

There was a cave behind the shrine as well, something I’ve seen once before.

  

I went by the “waterfall” that was barely a trickle.

Then it was museum time. The first museum I went to held the treasures of the shrine.

Then I went to the Kyushu National museum, which I knew was probably special even before I saw the building. First, there’s two escalators to take you up a mountain.

Then there’s two people movers to get you to the museum.

When you finally get there, the building is HUGE.

Here’s a mikoshi that I doubt they can move it. It looks awfully top-heavy.

I went to the regular exhibit floor where they had the standard history of Japan stuff, and also the special exhibit from the 3rd century in China. I also went to the third museum that showed history with Hakata dolls but I just sped through that.

Here’s all I had for lunch. Ume and matcha. It wasn’t great.

I went back to my room and booked my tickets for seeing Cape Nosappu near the end of October. I was just taking it easy until the night market started.

It was mostly international food and some people I talked to told me to go to the traditional yatai instead of eating there and it wasn’t far away.

I walked around until I found a place that was crowded and had tonkotsu ramen and teba gyoza. The gyoza was stuffed into the chicken wing!

Sadly, it wasn’t the best ramen I’ve had on this trip. In fact, I think I liked the ramen I had at the street fair in Sapporo better. But it wasn’t expensive.

I went on to a yakitori place and it cost twice as much as the ramen. It wasn’t twice as good. That’s where I mean a guy from Albuquerque who was originally from Australia and I told him I knew a place we could watch rugby. We ended up talking for a while and having a couple more beers. Just enough to keep me from being able to finish this post last night.

Japan Day 37: Kouzakihana

I am tired. It was a lot further to the westernmost point of Japan than I thought, and I got back at 6pm. Imagine driving in Japanese rush-hour traffic with pedestrians going everywhere. And imagine that your GPS is old and a little faulty.

The day started off easy. The breakfast downstairs changes a bit from day-to-day and Route Inn, while expensive, does a good job.

And then it was on to the Shinkansen for a whole half-hour.

I got to Hakata station in Fukuoka and I forgot how big the city was. Turns out it’s the fifth largest city in Japan, population-wise. I got to the hotel and left my bags, and then it was time to go looking for Toyota Rentacar. I didn’t take a picture of my car this time because it was a POS. An old POS that needed a key(!) unlike either of the other cars I rented and it also didn’t have Bluetooth in the radio! I had to listen to the speakers on my iPhone XS which is fortunately quite loud. And it was a long drive out to Kozakihana too. I passed through three prefectures and the GPS didn’t even know about the extension of the highway I was on.

Anyway, I made it!

It’s beautiful out there but it really is in the middle of nowhere. No one else was out there, and the last bit was on a one-lane two-way street. Very windy with houses along it. It’s a fishing area and I don’t think they get many tourists.

There was a sign that told you how to get your card that says you made it (at least that’s what I think it says) and I went to the company where they had the cards. Also seriously in the middle of nowhere.

Everyone kept talking about going to “city hall” to find out more, so I figured I’d at least see where the second phone number on the list took me. Even the woman at Cape Sata said something about the Sasebo City Hall. Sure enough, it was city hall for the tiny fishing village I was in. It took them some time to find the forms, but they gave me the form to fill out to get the certificate that says you made it to all four. Also, it’s is only going to be issued until March! I’d better actually get on it and get to the fourth corner!

I was going to make a side-trip on the way back, but it’s 3 hours back with no side-trip. I was afraid I might miss the 8pm cutoff for returning the POS car. That got me back into Fukuoka at 6pm, right in time for rush hour. Lots of cars, lots of pedestrians. And the GD GPS took me to the opposite side of the building from the rental agency office! Since I don’t know the area at all, I stopped, got into a verbal altercation with a motorcyclist (I was just asking directions and he told me that I was in his way) and drove in circles. Fortunately, I found the office on the other side of the building.

That was enough for me. I decided to retreat to what I know best and went off to find some craft beers. Here’s one from Isekadoya and Culmination in Portland!

Oh, and my new glasses came!

That’s it for the day.

Japan Day 36: Kumamoto

I had a coupon for the castle tour (ha, castle – more of a rubble tour), the weird museum outside, and the City Museum. I still needed to see the Kumamoto City Museum, so that was where I set off for. First, though, I had breakfast at the hotel.

Then it was off to the tourist bureau because Kumamoto’s buses are a mystery to google and the goddamn Japanese transit apps that are maddening and want more money from me. The free ones don’t work that well and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay money just to find out the the paid ones also suck. Anyway, I got printed schedules from them and got on this goofy loop tourist bus that took me to the museum.

Not many pictures today because who takes pictures in the museum? The city museum had local history as well as natural history and archeology and it was pretty cool. There was also an art exhibit of sketches of the castle area that I paid extra for. I kept going and went to the Prefectural Museum Annex that had several exhibits by people in Kumamoto and that was free. I skipped the Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center because I figured they were going to charge me to see things that they wanted to sell me. I did take yet another bus to the Shimada Art Gallery, a TINY display of Miyamoto Musashi’s weapons and of Japanese battle helmets. Had some curry there, though.

After that it was back to the bus terminal/mall as it’s the nexus of all bus activity and I finally called the Wakkanai City Hall to see if I could get the certificate for being there. That made me wonder how far it was to the westernmost point and it’s only 2 ½ hours from Fukuoka! So I decided I’m going there early so I can rent a car and go to the westernmost point. I started researching the last place I’d need to go, way out in EBF Hokkaido, and I might just take a day trip from Tokyo. I’m going to try to call my sister tomorrow and see if she can talk me out of it. There was a lot of scrambling at Toyota Rentacar to make sure I could rent a car tomorrow.

For dinner I decided to try getting Higo Beef, or Akagyu. I tried to go to the fancy New Otani Hotel across the street and they treated me like crap and their steak restaurant that I went to four years ago is closed. They suggested I go to the hamburger place in the train station. Well, I did go to look but they didn’t have anything. I went to the bus mall steak restaurant and spent $47 for not a whole lot. And it wasn’t that good.

I couldn’t leave it at that, so I went to the Rugby Fanzone and found a Akagyu skewer for ¥300 and it was great! I told that story to one of the guys in a nearby booth and he gave me some Akagyu sushi for free! That’s where I should’ve gone in the first place!

Japan Day 35: Kumamoto

I only stayed a day in Miyazaki and I think I only missed one thing that’s actually in the city. There were a few things that would’ve been a road trip that might’ve been cool to see, but I’m OK with missing them. The bus to the station was quick and I found a pastry shop in the station that was open early. I had a bacon roll and a potato salad roll. And some brown stuff that passed as coffee.

I got on the train to Kagoshima and this time I was the only one in the green car. I swear the engineer was giving me dirty looks, but whatever. Back in Kagoshima the weather was nice and the volcano seemed quiet. Of course the weather was nice in Miyazaki as well. I had no luck with that place.

I grabbed an ekiben and got on the Shinkansen for Kumamoto. It wasn’t that crowded, but there were several rugby fans (i.e. roundeyes) in the green car.

I made it to Kumamoto but I was immediately confused. I’d been here just a few years ago (turns out it was 2015) and the station looked completely different! It used to be small with just at Mister Donut and a Mos Burger but now there’s a shopping area and a bunch of restaurants. The hotel I stayed in just five years ago is now a hole in the ground! And the rooms seemed brand new!

The news reported that the castle just reopened and so I had to go see it. I saw it in November of 2015 and the earthquake hit it hard in April of 2016. It used to be one of my favorite castles because of all the displays and beautifully kept rooms. And it wasn’t open at all! The grounds were just open so you could go in and see the repair work being done. Every place you see a pile of rocks is where the walls crumbled during the earthquake.

This next building was perfectly level when I last saw it.

After that I went to the sorta cheesy castle museum. I bought a 3fer ticket and by the time I got out I didn’t have time to go to the art museum. The ticket is good tomorrow too, though.

I went walking down the shopping arcade towards the newly renovated bus terminal. Got some snacks on the way because, well, I’m kind of a pig. There are a lot of mirrors in the big baths and I’m a load. Anyway, I needed a rest and Mister Donut was there for me.

Oh, I forgot to mention there’s a street fair at the castle as well and I got the localest beer I could find from Minamata (it’s in the prefecture but not very close). Minamata is someplace I don’t want to go and a place where I don’t want to have source anything I eat or drink, but you know how it is with beer. By the way, don’t google Minamata to see what I’m talking about. Trust me.

The beer was tasty, though.

I got back to the renovated bus station and there’s a huge shopping center there now. And in front of it was one of the Rugby Fanzones. It was free to get in and there was a huge line inside. I went in and saw a crowd and a bunch of food stands with no customers. I found out that the French team was there giving autographs. I have no idea who the French team are, so I didn’t stand in line to get a signature from, as the Welsh guy I met said, “those miserable bastards”.

Hard to see from that picture but the roof garden is on the fifth floor. I took a bus back to the station (it’s still partially a bus terminal after all) and checked in.

I should’ve had dinner at the new shopping center because they had way more choices, but I went back to the station where there were seven ramen places. I ate at one of the five (I think) non-ramen places. This time I got a picture of the basashi (and you probably shouldn’t google that either). It was all local Kumamoto food and pretty tasty. (That’s a tiny beer in the corner.)

And that’s it for today! I’m in a fairly loud room at the Route Inn so I hope I can get some rest.

Japan Day 34: Miyazaki

I didn’t miss the train this morning and even got there a little early. Took the free bus from the hotel and got there with time to spare. Unfortunately, the coffee shop was out of most of the morning set items, but I did get something.

The train was kind of a mess. The Green car was a Green half-car, and there’s only 11 or 14 seats. Let’s say 14. It was full of one family that was loud with two little kids that ended up crying at one point. So 13 of the 14 seats were grandparents and parents and two kids. They were uncharacteristically loud for Japanese people and they were annoying me. But they got off halfway through and I had the car to myself for the rest of the trip.

The volcano was still going at it as well.

When I arrived I noticed my hotel wasn’t next to the station AGAIN. And it was raining (thanks weather.com) so I took a cab. I got there around 12:30pm and started looking for lunch. Found a place next door with a craft beer sign and vegetable-heavy lunch specials so I went in. It was full of women (there were two guys) and the food was great.

After that it was off to Miyazaki Jingu, where the first emperor of Japan was enshrined. Google is useless here and I had to use Navitime which also has its issues (the walking map is horrid).

I went to the Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History to find out more about this area. For an area that was so important long ago, it sure isn’t much now. The museum isn’t that big, but I liked it. Mostly local history, and that’s what I was looking for. Not much on the castle sort of history where they talk about battles and etc but I think that’s because after the first emperor this area was defeated and subsumed into the Satsuma area of Kagoshima.

Getting back was a little odd. Navitime sent me in loops around the museum until I found the bus to get back. I walked for about half an hour to get to a bus stop and the bus took me back to the museum before going on to the hotel. Sheesh.

I got back to the hotel and took it easy until dinnertime (just an hour or so). I knew there were some local craft brewers so I went looking for a taproom. I should’ve known it wasn’t going to happen when people kept telling me to go to the gift store and just buy bottle there and also when google sent me down this street (which is right off of a main street by the way).

Well, the owner of one of the CLOSED establishments told me that all the taprooms with craft beer are closed on Mondays. I mean really, f*ck this place.

I went walking around to make sure all the taprooms were closed (they were) and even asked a liquor store if they had any local beers. They told me to go to the gift shop as well.

I made it to the gift shop as they were closing. Luckily, they weren’t completely closed.

The secret to Japanese beer is to keep it cold so I took it back to the hotel and I had to go back out for dinner. They suggested a couple of places and I picked the one that was number one on the map, Ogura Honten, where I had Chicken Nanban. That stuff is great. I could eat it all the time.

I got over being mad at Miyazaki after that. I made it back to the hotel and tried the two beers I bought.

I really liked the Hideji Beer pale ale and I thought it may have been a good thing that Aozora was closed because the IPA wasn’t to my liking. I think I decided it was because they used Simcoe hops and it also didn’t seem to be aged enough.

And that’s about it for Miyazaki. There are a few more places I’d want to go, but none are that close and would require a longer stay. I’d need more of a reason to stay, though. And the funny thing is, I’ve had four or five people tell me my Japanese is very good. I dunno. This place seems a little off to me.

Japan Day 33: Cape Sata

Somehow I knew I’d blow the time on one of my trains or something and I’m hoping that this is my one and only screw up this trip. I had a ticket for the Narita Express one year on the wrong day. They let me ride anyway, but it was just dumb on my part.

I was planning on going on the Ibusuki and Chiran tour today. I took a free shuttle from my hotel and got to the bus stop and didn’t see anyone. I thought the bus was leaving in 15 minutes instead of 5 so I left to eat breakfast.

Anyway, that left me with no plan except a harebrained idea that I might want to go to the southernmost point of Kyushu. Well, that happens to be another island, but the southernmost point of the island of Kyushu. I wasn’t even sure if that existed since I wasn’t planning on renting another car. Somehow I decided it was time to wing it and consulted with my buddy at the tourist bureau, who sent me to Orix Rentacar. They gladly rented me a compact car and told me which ferry to take and where to gas up the car on the way back. Off I went onto the ferry in South Kagoshima. Here’s the gray car I rented.

Let’s see, I must’ve started around 9AM. There was a 40 minute ferry ride across to the opposite peninsula and we went by the volcano “island” again. The bus driver from the hotel told me that there was a lot of ash on the cars today and I saw the reason.

So off I went with my rudimentary understanding of the Japanese GPS to Cape Sata. Lots of driving down the coastline, which was beautiful, but it took 2 ½ hours or more to get to the cape. And I was “speeding”. The speed limit varied from 40 to 50kph which is 25 to 30mph. I was doing 30 – 35mph.

I got down to the cape and it was HOT. Well, there’s an explanation. 100m from the parking lot is this monument that says you’re at the 31st parallel which is the same as Baja California or Texas.

There’s a tourist information counter and then a 20-minute walk to an observatory. That’s as far south as the path goes, either that or the ruins of the lighthouse quarters. I went to both just in case.

It was pretty out here, too.

I could even see the mountain I would’ve been closer to if I’d actually taken the tour (the conical one in the middle distance).

On the way back they told me to see Ogawa Falls. This was a spectacular GPS fail. I couldn’t find it on the car GPS and Google took me to the top of the falls through windy one-lane country backroads. The top of the falls is unspectacular and you can see the valley and the dam.

It’s quite a drive down and back up the valley through even narrower one-lane roads and then there’s a 30-minute walk, but a pretty walk.

Yes it was humid, but the waterfall was spectacular. A lot of the water came from springs in the face of the cliff.

Then it was time to get back. I was tired of all the driving (it wasn’t freeway driving and would it kill a guy here to make a straight road?)

The volcano was still going.

I got back to town, filled up with gas, and returned the car. Then I hit the train station department store for some dinner. I think I overdid the carbs.

If the people next door stop slamming their goddamn door, I may get some extra sleep tonight.

Japan Day 32: Kagoshima

Well, I didn’t feel great this morning (or most of the day) but I was all set to take the two half-day bus tours. First, I went to the closest coffee shop that didn’t turn out to be very close, and it was in the opposite direction from where the tour left.

I took a cab to the station and got on the bus.


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The morning tour was to the volcano “island” in the bay right across from Kagoshima. The bus drove straight onto the ferry. There was a big concert going on so the Sakurajima Ferry was crowded.

It was hot today (I guess it’s usually hot this far south in Japan) and we drove around the island. The first stop was at the observation point. You can’t go much further up the mountain because it’s still active and the area is restricted.

Then it was down and around the shore. Most of the stories here were about the most recent huge eruptions. Here’s a shrine gate that was buried by lava!

I put “island” in quotes because the most recent large eruption in the 1950’s connected the island to the closest peninsula. We didn’t stop and I guess there was a very fast-running current in the small space between the island in the peninsula before they were connected.

It was hot, and most of the areas we visited had no shade!

We made it back and we weren’t that far behind schedule. I even had time for lunch. A beef bowl (yes there’s rice under there).

The second tour was around the city and most of it is all about Saigo Takamori, the “last samurai.” I didn’t take a lot of pictures because there were museums, graveyards, placards in front of parking lots, etc, and the only interesting things to take pictures of were shots out the bus window as we drove by. That never works well.

I do have a couple more pictures of the volcano, though.

We ended up at Sengan-en, the gardens and house of a feudal lord that also had an iron smelting plant on-site. They made weapons near this site, but that’s gone as well.

A couple of older women kept talking about jambomochi, and of course I had to try them as well. I think they only have them here, in or near this garden, and they’re tasty.

I had the same 71-year-old bus guide on both trips and I think the same driver as well. It was a fun day. I don’t think you can really see them through the window.

And then it was dinner and I should’ve taken the warning that I was ordering a “big” portion. I always hate how the Korean people who run Japanese restaurants in Portland serve such thin pork cutlets and call them “tonkatsu.” This one is close to an inch thick!

And that’s it for today (and I’m sticking to soft drinks for the moment!)

Japan Day 31: Kagoshima

Oh boy, I had a couple more beers than I should’ve. But I’m getting ahead of myself because that happened at the end of the day.

I finally found a coffee shop that opened at 8am (Okayama’s a lot bigger than Sakaiminato) and that alone was a huge win. I’ve eaten at conbini a lot the past few days.

There were a bunch of mascots around trying to promote an event I won’t be around for.

Then I got on the Shinkansen to Kagoshima, the southernmost Shinkansen stop.

The first part of the trip I think I was the only Asian in my car. I wondered if everyone was heading for Hiroshima, and sure enough a bunch of people got off. But the same number of non-Asian people (by non-Asian I mean whitey) got on. I checked the World Cup Rugby schedule and I figured they’d get off at two different station. Sure enough, after the two stops I though, it was just me and a bunch of Asians.

In the middle of all that I had a pretty good ekiben from Okayama.

When I got off the train I wondered what I was thinking. I should’ve found a way to stay up north. It’s not THAT hot, but with the humidity it sure seems hot to me.

And of course I got lost. In preparation I looked up the WRONG train station and the WRONG hotel, so I thought I needed to be near the train station in the middle of town when I really was closer to the Shinkansen station. But I made it to the hotel pretty early and went to ask the tourist bureau what I should go see. There were some bus tours that looked promising, but it was too late to do any of them. Kumamoto looked pretty spread out and, as I mentioned, it was HOT so I just asked if there was any beer to be had. I went to the closer place they mentioned and it had two craft beers: Yona Yona (from Tokyo) and something from Brooklyn Brewing. Yeesh. The kid there was nice and went to SWOCC! (Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay!) He suggested the other place that the tourist bureau also suggested.

THere’s a fancy hotel on the hill, the Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima, and there’s a free bus to get up to it. It’s a fancy hotel, so this dude with a bellman sort of uniform asked me what I wanted and he had to run in to find out where I could go. They sat me in a “bridal lounge” (a very sterile room) and I had the tasting set.

On my way out I had to ask where the beer was made. It was after 5pm but they said I could go down and check out the brewery! The brewer was quite friendly and used a lot of hops from Washington.

It’s a 250L system (approximately 2.5 barrels) and it takes two batches to fill the maturation tanks that are only 500L. We got to talking and he said I went to the wrong part of the hotel and there’s a bar with more taps. He gave me a couple tastes off the zwickel, a nice hazy and a Brut IPA.

On the way out he told me to check out a taproom not far from my hotel. The burgers there were great and they had a couple of Japanese craft beers on tap. They had the rugby game on, though, and I “had to” keep buying beers until it was over.

And that’s about it.

Japan Day 30: Okayama

Well Sakaiminato still continues to disappoint. I found some coffee shops that open “on time” in Yonago, so I thought I’d take an earlier train and grab breakfast in Yonago. Well, the short train to Yonago was delayed and I only had 30 minutes so I still ended up eating breakfast from 7 Eleven.

By the time I got to the train station, I found out the train to Okayama was also delayed.

Well it was a nice calm ride back to Okayama, a place I’d been many times before. I decided to stay in a nicer hotel, though and my room at the Granvia is huge by Japanese standards. It’s even big for, say, San Francisco. It was a very humid day and fortunately it didn’t rain very much. They’re having the Okayama Art Summit so I spent most of the afternoon visiting modern art installations. Most of the time I spent rather confused. Some of the installations are even on the grounds of the castle!

The big plans though were to meet my sister’s old co-worker and friend Yumi for dinner. Another marathoner and her brother also came. It was a lot of fun and the other marathoner (who is a whiskey expert) even gave me a small single-shot bottle of Yamazaki 12!

My original plans were just to hide out and maybe just hang out in the mall if it was too rainy and it was a lot more fun than that today.

(And that’s the reason why I relax at the Granvia. I like sitting in the room and just looking out the window.)

Japan Day 29: Sakaiminato & Yonago

I took a bunch of pictures today but most of them are only interesting to me. Sakaiminato continues to disappoint me but I keep finding ways to amuse myself. I thought the coffee shops opened at 9am instead of the standard 8am, but it turns out it’s 10am today. So I decided to ask about how to get to Ejima/Eshima so I could see the bridge. I was considering taking a taxi across and back or renting a car, or just walking it. Well, it turns out there’s a 8:27am bus and there are only 3 buses per day. It was 8:25 or so and I asked where the bus was. The “bus” came right after I got outside and it was just a small van. I was the only rider! I got to chat with the driver and he said there’s really nothing on Eshima and the bridge looks more impressive from the other side.

Well the bridge ain’t much. The famous pictures of it are taken with a telephoto lens from a boat off the other side of the island. On foot there isn’t much to it, but I like doing this sort of thing. Before I started, though, I saw a FamilyMart and decided to get some breakfast since I still hadn’t eaten.

Just past the sign for the bort ride I didn’t take yesterday. It was too late in the day anyway.

This is what I’m reduced to but the most annoying thing is that this damn little island had a better selection than Sakaiminato which appears to have more people.

The view wasn’t bad, either.

Off I went, in the rain, to the bridge. This is the side that has the straight-on view that is more impressive. But with the wide-angle lens of my iPhone or with the naked eye, it doesn’t look that scary or steep. I think the whole thing is just and advertisement for the area.

I watched a YouTube video where the guy said it was like a rollercoaster. Nonsense.

It is a tall bridge though, with some nice views.

Oh, and the reason I didn’t notice this all is because from the Tottori side (where I came from yesterday) the bridge curves.

I couldn’t get any better pictures because I didn’t want to get run over in the middle of a busy road.

Ok, time to head back. But the first thing I found was a Daiso! (The ¥100 store – ¥110 with tax.) They didn’t have what I was looking for but I did get a couple more things I needed and I was only out ¥220.

The next thing I saw was this sign, so I went in and looked at the statue that looked like it had English writing.

That’s Mr. Onitsuka, the president of Asics, who is from here and owned one of the three companies that merged into Asics, Onitsuka Tiger. Those are the shoes that started Nike.

And then I kept walking because, well, I forgot to call a taxi like my original plan. I didn’t mind walking through the farmland. I find it more interesting than house after house.

I finally made it to the train station and found the next train was 27 minutes away and the hotel (where I needed to pick something up) was 23 minutes walking. It was humid and sweaty and I kept walking.

Around noon I headed towards Yonago to see the castle ruins. I don’t think they get many tourists because the guy went on and on. There’s an Aeon mall on the way so I stopped in for lunch. Most people were buying bentos from the grocery store and microwaving them in the “Eat in” corner but I went to the bakery and got a hot dog, curry pan, and a fondue pan.

Then it was off to the ruins. They were kind of impressive, but also kind of ruins.

Also, there were some stairs. Close to the top I saw a Asian giant hornet and I had to wait for it to calm down before I went by. I think it was nesting in the stairs.

But the walls were pretty neat and there was quite the view from the top.

The rest of the tour of the city was kind of a bust. I mean, the guy told me to check out a bridge and this is all it was.

I did find a craft brewery but it didn’t open until 5:30pm and I was too tired come back and put up with this sort of nonsense.

I went back to the station and found I just missed the train, so I went to the Aeon Mall because they had a Mister Donut. Not the best doughnuts but a nice place to rest.

They must’ve sensed that I’m a spoon thief. I got back to the hotel, took a bath, and ate some Chip Star (Japanese Pringle’s) for dinner. And now somehow it’s bedtime. Not a bad day.

Japan Day 28: Izumo Taisha and Matsue Castle

Staying in Sakaiminato was kind of a mistake. I knew that when I asked the lady from the tourist bureau on how to get to Izumo and how to get back and she said, “You’re coming back?” I had two different people laugh at me when I told them I made that mistake. One was a random older guy at the bus stop (probably my age) who said, “Yeah, you went for the yokai? I bet it’s a bit of a disappointment,” and the other was the guy at the Matsue JR Green window who kind of said, “Sakaiminato? Oh boy.” Honestly it wasn’t that bad.

There are some oddities, though. I went out looking for a coffee shop and found out they don’t open until 9AM! Seeing as how they all seem to close early, I don’t know what the point is in keeping banker’s hours. I had to walk back to the hotel and in the opposite direction to the Lawson, who was very poorly stocked. I still got a tuna & egg sandwich set, a ham & cheese roll, a smoothie, and a can of coffee and ate it in my room.

Then it was off to Izumo Taisha, the oldest shrine in Japan. I took a big highway bus to Matsue, a train to Izumo, and then a city bus to Izumo Taisha.

I guess the train was the same one as the other day going from Tottori to Yonago. Lots of waiting around in between the train and the buses, and my lunch was some unhealthy mess from 7 Eleven while I was waiting at Izumo station.

Anyway, the Izumo Taisha is the grand shrine and possibly the oldest one in Japan. I spent my time going around the grounds and it was HOT again.

I also went to see the treasures of the temple, and then went to the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo where they have all the archeological history of the area on display. Pretty cool.

Then I got on a couple more trains to get to Matsue Castle because why not? It’s on the way back. I took the local electric railway where they still use paper tickets and the paper punch to show you got on.

It even had one of those weird turnarounds I never understand.

Turns out Matsue Casle one of the five castles that are National Treasures of Japan, and one of the few made of original timbers. Of course, since it was built in the 1600’s it’s been rebuilt but some of the original timbers are still there.

My train back according to Google was canceled! So I had time to eat some so-so ramen at the train station.

And then it was back on the same sort of train to get back to Yonago, and then a nondescript non-cartoon-wrapped train to Sakaiminato.

And another thing I found out – I was on that crazy bridge connecting Tottori Prefecture and Shimane Prefecture (look up the Eshima Ohashi bridge) and I didn’t even know it! Anyway, that’s it for today. Here’s a video of the beer robot that I hope shows up OK.

Some people don't believe my luck.

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