Sorry for the long pause... the last ryokan had free WiFi ONLY in the lobby and it was just weird. Everybody had to check their mails on the way out or in with the ryokan staff watching over you and after 7o’clock in the evening the lobby got full of very quiet people submerged on their laptops or cell phones.
Very nice people of the ryokan: expand your WiFi range!!!
I’m a little behind on my tale... we left Kumamoto early in the morning and made our way to the Aso San Area. It’s practically a still active volcano... and even though Kurosawa has used this site as a backdrop for some of his movies, it was just not my thing... i just don’t see what is so amazing about a place where there is nothing to see but rocks and you can’t even stay there that long because of the fumes.
Well, the bus ride back to the train station took 30 minutes, there we took a train just for the next stop, where we had to take a bus to the next train station. Apparently there was a very strong taifun that destroyed a part oft he railway. The bus, if you could call that a bus, it was more like a minivan, was packed with very loud chinese people (i don’t have anything against chinese people, but this particular ones were very loud and by that time i was just not in the mood...). For the last part of the trip we had to take another train, which was also full, this time with giggling teenagers on their way to an amusement park. I was fuming! I was just so pissed & tired! I knew that it was not the giggling girls fault, nor my husbands for wanting to go to the volcano, nor the poor japanese people that lost some railway because of a taifun... it was nobody’s fault... it was just too much.
Finally in Beppu we got to our ryokan and were treated to an hour at an onsen (a mineral hot spring bath) and after that the world was just fine again :-)
Beppu is a nice spa town by the sea and if you ever go there, we highly recommend you the Toyotsune Restaurant. Ask for the specialty: Tendon, huge fried prawns and vegetables over rice (the only disadvantage is that they already close at 10. So don’t go too late!)
Sadly we stayed there just one night and our next stop was back in the main island Honshu at the city of Hiroshima.
Even though its history is a sad one (or maybe just because of it) Hiroshima is one of the nicest cities we visited. The Peace Memorial Park houses the cenotaph, where the names of all the known victims of the bomb are written, the Flame of Peace, the Children’s Peace Monument and a nice hanami spot just by the river. Across from the park is the A-Bomb Dome (On August 6th 1945, the Bomb exploded almost directly above it) and a little north from it is the small Castle of Hiroshima surrounded by a beautiful garden and a moat.
Again we had a satisfying food experience at the Hassei, where they specialize on Okonomiyaki. If you are ever in Hiroshima just go there and try it! (They also have half size okonomiyaki!)
On the next day we left our things at the train station and took the train to the very near island of Miyajima.
In the old days, the shrine on the island was only accessible through the floating torii (entrance gate to a Shinto shrine). Apart from the main shrine, there are various other temples. It really felt like a temple themed park! It was all so pretty and some of the gods were clad in self made hats and scarfs :-)
It was a nice trip, even though there were a lot of tourists and it was really windy & cold. But we even got to see a Shinto wedding ceremony!
See you next time! (hopefully before next week!)