After the stress of Taipei, we had a nice quiet day at sea. Video Boy had been suffering with a cold in Taipei - the train trip back to Keelung was a long one for him as he felt so fatigued. But a restful sea-day found him feeling much better and looking forward to his very first ever visit to Japan.
Unfortunately, Panda Girl and I picked up a nastier version of his cold, and so we found ourselves feeling quite under the weather for our first ever visit to Japan.
Hopefully, we had also learned our lesson about trying to fit too much into a port day (and yanno, risk being left behind if we don't make it back to the ship in time), so given our poor health and time limits, we decided to have a relaxed approach to Kagoshima.
Kagoshima is (not surprisingly on a cruise) a port city at the southern tip of Kyushu Island, Japan.
|I want to go to Naha one day. Just 'cause.|
It sits in the shadow of Mt Sakurajima - an active volcano which last erupted in 1914 and which today still spews ash and steam into the air.
I just googled Sakurajima and look at the photo some guy took when it was exploding in January this year (2013)!!!
|OK - really glad I saw this after we went there...|
Another cloudy, overcast day, but we could tell spring was in the air - the pristine, clean streets were awash with colour and blooms.
|OMG - actual real live cherry blossoms in Japan!!!!|
|I wish this was just hayfever - alas it prevailed, even at sea!|
We wandered down from the shuttle drop-off point, past the Aquarium which probably would have sucked up hours of our day, and in our time, we have visited more than our fair share of aquariums. So we decided to catch the ferry over to the elephant in the room - Mt Sakurajima.
|Probably just as well they had their masks on - they don't want what we have!|
And, are they tissues in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
Downtown Sakurajima wasn't much to write home about, but we did have a bit of fun at the ferry terminal (you pay when you get off) practising our limited Japanese - they loved our attempts!
We bypassed the insistent cab-drivers and strolled down to the waterfront:
|That is ash on the ground - it was EVERYWHERE!!!|
|We think that says "fishing"|
|Because you could hire fishing rods and go fish off the pier (we didn't - the water didn't look the best)|
We found what we were looking for - the Nagisa Beach Park, which included a free foot bath/hot spring and a 3km lava trail, overlooking the bay with the ever-spewing volcano in the background!
|The volcanic geology was amazing|
|You just take off your shoes, roll up your pants and sit and relax!|
|It was very nice!|
|I didn't want to leave...|
|...and neither did this little girl - she was having the best time!|
|The water was hot bath warm - perfect! This little girl was enjoying herself too, really.|
|Unfortunately, when it was time to leave, your feet were instantly|
dirty from all the ash on the ground!
|On the lava trail - it amazes me where life flourishes!|
|And it amazes me how fearless my girl is! Get down from there, Panda Girl!!!|
One of the specialities of the area is their oranges. We bought a couple of these (with yet another currency - but converting this one was easy - $1 aussie dollar was 100 yen). The were pretty nice!
There was a lot of birdlife in Asia - we saw heaps of these eagles/kites/big bird things:
There was, apparently a dinosaur/nature park, with large model dinosaurs, but despite asking around a bit, we couldn't find it and besides, it would be hard to beat our very own hometown model dinosaur, which now has pride of place in a plant nursery after sub-development threatened its existence:
|A Sakurajima dinosaur|
|A south coast dinosaur (not my kids!) - just as good, yes?|
We found a set of stairs, and walked up them, to see what we could see:
It was some kind of shrine/worship place, where you could buy paper cranes to put into the cherry blossoms, probably as a gift to the volcano gods, so they stay happy (and quiet).
|Panda Girl really wanted to have a sip of this shrine/holy water. |
I really didn't let her - we were sick enough as it was, we didn't need gastro as well!
We caught the ferry back to Kagoshima and discovered we could have done the whole footbath thing at the waterfront shops! And I learnt an important travelling lesson - always buy what you want when you see it, because you are not going to go back to get that all important sweet potato wine speciality when you don't find it anywhere else. Just sayin'.
|Love this photo - Japan in a pic.|
We then had to find somewhere to have lunch. The Japanese make this relatively easy by producing plastic copies of their menu and putting it in the front window - not sure if this is appetising and enticing or just plain weird...
Totally loved the kids in Japan - they loved practising their English (eigo) by saying "hello" and we loved practising our Japanese (nihongo) by saying "konichiwa!"
We went to the Tenmon-kan shopping district to further investigate lunch options (and avoid the ubiquitous Maccas and KFC).
|Video Boy got Tofu and noodles, Hubby got Shrimp and noodles...|
|I ended up with raw egg (which kind of cooked a bit) and noodles...|
|And Panda Girl ended up with Something Unidentfiable, Green and Slimy and noodles - |
which got given to Hubby, because he's good like that :-)
I have to say, despite feeling awful with my cold, they were THE BEST udon noodles I have ever had the pleasure to eat. They were melt-in-the-mouth divine!!!
We wandered through the shops. One of our "to buy" things on our list was a kimono for Hubby's mum. We spotted this one - was only about a million yen, so even with the good exchange rate, it was a bit out of our price range!
Hubby and Panda Girl needed to go "visit the bathroom" when we were wandering back to the blocks-long queue for the shuttle back to the ship. They were taking forever! Maybe we did have a touch of gastro??? No - they were figuring out all the buttons for the Japanese toilets. If you missed my last post, you may have missed Jeanne's excellent link to her post on Asian toilets. Go on. You know you want to read it!
You will no doubt be as relieved as we were to know we made it back safely to the ship with ample time to spare, where we stood on the promenade deck and cheered on the late-comers!
We will definitely be back to sample more of Japan - we really enjoyed the culture, the language, the food (even the weird, green, slimy stuff) and the people (Panda Girl had her bow down pat). But, first, we have other new countries to explore - next stop, Busan, South Korea!