Friday, March 16, 2001

Japan - Konnichiwa and Sayonara

Mount Fuji
On March 1st we flew from India to Japan, and headed straight away south with the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) at up to 290km/h, we almost flew to KYOTO, HIROSHIMA, BEPPU, YUFUIN, KUMAMOTO, KAGOSHIMA, IBUSUKI...
We decided to go south in hope to see the Japanese cherry blossom “Sakura”, which normal start blooming in the warmer south first. To our surprise we were greeted in Kyushu Island with icy winds and snow. A local friend picked us up in BEPPU and showed us around the north of Kyushu with his car that was well equipped (snow chains that is)

Julane at the Kaiseki Restaurant
The famous town of YUFUIN, renowned for its hot springs and the picturesque landscape greeted us with loads of snow and despite the snow chains on Mr. Takita's car we couldn't make it up to Mount Yufu. But the many Onsen (hot springs) in the are we had plenty other things to do. One of the highlights was when Mr. Takita treated us to one of the most amazing Kaiseki dinners that we ever had

 The good news is that we had a rare view of the famous volcano “Sakurajima” covered in snow. Doesn’t this sound strange: active volcano and snow?  (unfortunately the weather was quite bad and we couldn't get a good picture of it, the one beside is borrowed from the Internet)
Sakurajima with snow
Thanks to all the Onsen in Kyushu we stayed fairly warm and especially enjoyed the hot sand bath in IBUSUKI… steam from the lower parts of the ground heat the black sandy beaches to about 40°C.
Elderly ladies dig up a shallow hole in the sand just big enough to hold your body and then ask you to lie inside…
Ibuski Sand Onsen
next thing you know you are covered in sand, at a beach starting to slow roast in black sand, while it’s freezing cold outside. I managed to bear the treatment for 15 minutes before it go too hot. Julane managed a bit longer. Anyway I preferred the water hot springs over the sand ones… somehow water works better to wash.

Despite the cold we took a day trip to the town of CHIRAN, which is home to some historic Samurai houses and also served as the base for WW-II Kamikaze attack. The big Kamikaze Museum is certainly worth a visit, they have a lot of background info and artifacts from that dark time in Japan's history, and there seems to be still a certain level of denial. The official name of the Museum is "Chiran Special Attack Peace Museum"
Chiran Kamikaze Museum
Patrick walking through Chiran

Fuji-san:view from our apartment

Now we are sitting here in our old apartment in YOKOHAMA, packing up our stuff for the container, having a final look out our window with direct view to Fuji-san.


We will fly to Singapore in two days, closing the chapter “living in Japan” for good. It was nice coming back after the trip to India as a visitor and sees the country through the eyes of a tourist, not just a Salaryman… We now also understand why so many visitors rave about the hospitality here. It truly is amazing to visit, and very different from living and working in the country of the rising sun.

Sayonara Nippon… we are heading to Singapore and Indonesia