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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Summer Holiday 2006 - Day 1

9 days of summer holiday doesn't fit so well into one evening, so I'll start tonight with the first day.

So on the 5th of August I left home for Tokyo's Haneda Airport for my long awaited summer holiday in southern Japan with Kana. Our plan was to take in sights in Kyushu (Yakushima, Ibusuki, Kagoshima, Beppu), Hiroshima, and finally Matsuyama in Shikoku, Kana's home town.

This was actually my first domestic flight but shortly after 1pm I arrived at Kagoshima airport and met up there with Kana who had arrived on a flight from Matsuyama about half an hour earlier. We had no set plans for the day other than to basically meet up and then get ourselves on our way down to Yakushima to really start our trip the next day, but the first day was actually quite good in itself.

First we rode a bus from the airport down south into Kagoshima city (about 50 minutes), and then took a walk around the town. Apparently Kagoshima is famous for Chinese noodles ("ramen"), so we had some for lunch. Something else Kana spotted was "shirokuma" (so called "polar bears") which is actually just a dessert type of thing which apparently originates out of Kagoshima. We were really looking for Kagoshima ramen at the time though, and skipped it, but had some a few days later when we made our way back from Yakushima (more on that at a later date).

Having taken a quick look around the Kagoshima city centre we found our way to another bus terminal which took us to the Haibiskasu ferry, which was an over night ride down to Yakushima. We underestimated the distance to the port so ended up arriving just a few minutes before the boat was scheduled to depart. This is not your normal ferry by the way, it's more of a freight ship that seems to carry supplies down to Yakushima and the other big island nearby (see the map!). They have a few passenger cabins on board to take people as well, but there are no bunks or anything - just big communal rooms with carpet to sit on - so we sat ourselves down in one of those. Why this boat? Well because it was cheap - 2,700 yen - and would get us to Yakushima by 7am the next morning. The alternative was to pay for both faster transport and lodging which would work out at easily more than 10,000 yen, depending on just how extravagent we wanted to get.

Anyway, when the ship left port, we went out on deck and enjoyed the ride. The sea was pretty smooth. Kagoshima is also close to what is apparently still an active volcano in Sakurajima, and there was some kind of cloud hanging around the summit when we left.

We hung around out on the deck as the ship made it's way out of the large natural bay where Kagoshima is located, down south towards the first stop of Nishinoomote on Tanegashima. We got a pretty nice sunset to enjoy, and if my memory serves me right there was a nice moon lit sky as well.

We eventually hit the carpet cabin floor at around 20:30 or so, and a short while later the boat arrived at Nishinoomote, where it stopped over night.
I was pretty tired that night (with the start of a cold) and actually got a good night's sleep. The ship departed port again at around 5a.m. the next morning, at which point we woke up, and again went out on deck and took in the sunrise this time - really nice it was too.

Standing towards the bow of the ship, we started to spot the odd flying fish as we headed southwest towards Yakushima, and as we got closer and closer, rather than spotting them in ones and twos we started to see larger schools of several dozen fish suddenly fly out of the water to avoid the wake of the ship, sometimes flying at what seemed to be as much as 30 or 40 metres. By 7a.m. we had arrived at Yakushima to a beautiful sunny day.

Day 2 will start here tomorrow - lots of waterfalls, beautiful blue sea, green mountains and so on to come.

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