Golden Week: Kyushu~! Day Two: Absorbing the ashes of a volcano

City: Miyazaki

We emerged, blinking, into sunlight that was far too bright and cheerful for the time from which we exited the net cafe (7:30 AM).  Six hours was not enough to get a full nights sleep, and I (somewhat willingly) didn’t get any sleep because of uhhh… reasons…

The other girls had gotten a double booth, so they had a bit more room to stretch out on the sofa they shared, but they still had trouble sleeping well because of the couch, and I guess also because it was all of our first times staying overnight at a net cafe.  So all of us, sleep deprived, glaring at the slightly-too-bright sun, went to walk around a bit more before we could get breakfast.  Most places in Japan don’t open until at least 9:00 AM, with the exception of fast food chains like Macca’s or Mosburger, but we had seen last night that Tully’s opened at 8:00 AM.  More importantly, they had signs saying they had French toast, so hallelujah we didn’t need to eat greasy burgers for breakfast.

And that French toast was so good.  Ugh.

Just look at it!

Just look at it!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have more time to explore Miyazaki prefecture because all their scenic spots are at least an hour or two away from Miyazaki city, so we used the bit of extra time we had before heading to Kagoshima to go to Starbucks and absorb the Japanese vibes. #touriststothecore

Miyazaki Station ~ Kagoshima-chuo Station
Train: Kirishima

Heading back to Kagoshima, this time on a less crowded train and with the sun blazing strongly, we could see a lot more than the night before.  For instance, the seaside landscapes as you get closer to Kagoshima is beautiful, and when you approach Kagoshima city, you can definitely spot Sakurajima, the resident volcano, blotting out a significant section of the horizon.  When you catch this train back, make sure you don’t get Kagoshima Station and Kagoshima-chuo Station mixed up!  The latter is the one that is located in the city centre; Kagoshima Station is quite far away from everything!

When we arrived, there was a fair happening outside the station for locally produced shochu and fingerfoods, so we hung around for a bit before trying to find the tourist information centre.  It was a hot day, and we were all kind of struggling a little, but thank goodness again! Kagoshima planners planned everything in straight lines as well, and abundant signs pointing you in the right direction will make sure you get to where you need to go.

Once we got there, we were told about a Day Pass that includes all Kagoshima city public transport, including the ferry to Sakurajima.  This costs ¥1000 for adults, and if you’re planning on exploring the city thoroughly, this is definitely worth the price!

Calling me cute? Why, thank you!

Calling me cute? Why, thank you!

For travelling around Kagoshima, there is a bus that runs in loops around Kagoshima CBD, out to the port and back, and it comes fairly regularly, so that should prevent any tourists from needing to figure out how to operate the city bus systems.  There are no subway systems in Kagoshima; there is only a tram connecting Kagoshima-chuo Station and Kagoshima station, and the buses that I mentioned before.  They’re not hard to navigate, but for sure, especially if you don’t really know much Japanese, it will make life a lot easier if you can catch the city loop bus.

Mainly for us, we wanted to see Sakurajima because live volcano, so we hopped onto the bus and headed out for the port.  The port is closer to Kagoshima Station, so that could also be a travel option instead of travelling to Kagoshima-chuo Station.  There are a few things to see around the port area, including an aquarium and a geo-park, so just exploring that area can definitely take up to a day.  But we were here for Sakurajima, and so we jumped straight onto the next ferry and in ten minutes, we were setting foot upon the black ashy grounds of Sakurajima.

Sakurajima!

Sakurajima!

And it was beyond amazing.  There’s black ash everywhere, the vegetation there is this vivid startling green, the shores are full of rocks and shapes that are just a little sharper and more angled than usual.  We walked a shorter base walk, soaked our feet in the free foot onsen near to the port, stared at the ocean and the volcano for equal amounts of time… I wish we had a bit more time to take either the bus tour that takes you halfway up Sakurajima, or hike one of the longer trails, but if you have a few spare hours, go check it out! It’s definitely worth it.

A normal Sakurajima fart

A normal Sakurajima fart

After heading back to Kagoshima, we walked around a bit more, exploring nearby Tageyama Park (commemorating someone from Finland… I still don’t know who he is), which had exception views of the harbour, before heading back to Kagoshima-chuo on the tram.  If you want to take the bus back, the last bus leaves the ferry port before 6:00 PM so make sure to put that in your calculations, because we didn’t, but the tram was definitely a very enjoyable and local experience.

The view of Kagoshima from the ferris wheel on top of the station before we went to find a bath

Nightlights of Kagoshima from the ferris wheel on top of the station before we went to find a bath

Something else that was a very local experience was us trying to find an onsen, but ended up a super local sento instead.  Sento are public bathhouses usually with ceramic tiling that don’t have medicinal waters like an onsen,, and are generally quite cheap for a basic bath, with added costs for towels, soaps, etc.  This one in particular costed us ¥310 each, with the hottest bath water that I have experienced since getting to Japan.  Even though we wanted to stay for longer, we couldn’t… we just weren’t on the level of all the obaa-san there happily stewing themselves in the water.

But a bath is still a bath, and when we finally settled in for the night at a bigger net cafe next to Kagoshima-chuo Station, we went for the nine hour package and for the flat bed option.  And despite the cheap ¥1750 price tag, those flat mattresses felt like the fluffliest futon at an expensive ryokan. #poorstudenttravels


Golden Week: Kyushu~! The JR Kyushu International Student Pass
Golden Week: Kyushu~! Day One: Train-hopping from Fukuoka to Miyazaki
Golden Week: Kyushu~! Day Three: Catching ferries and climbing bridges

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