For spring break this year, I went to the south of Japan. My first stop was Yakushima. We took a small propeller plane from Kagoshima airport. It was a clear day, so we could see beautiful views, including Mt. Kaimon, along the way. Once we landed, I decided to take a look at some of the famous landmarks. The island was full of beautiful nature and scenery. There were waterfalls, beaches, lookouts, forests, and more. In the evening of the first day, we visited Hirauchi Onsen, a tidal hot spring that is only accessible during low-tide.
The next day, we drove around the island, enjoying more beautiful views, and monkeys and deer. There were so many monkeys and deer. A lot of them were relaxing on the road so we had to be very careful while we drove. They all looked happy and healthy. In the evening, we enjoyed some tankan juice. It was very sweet, and delicious!
On the third day, I went hiking in Shiratani Unsuikyo. It’s a beautiful mossy forest with enormous old trees. It’s famous for inspiring the forests in studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke.
For my last day on Yakushima, I enjoyed the long hike along the Anbo and Okabu trails. It begins along an old railroad track once used for logging, then continues through the Yakushima World Natural Heritage forest. It led to Wilson’s Stump, the enormous stump of an ancient yakusugi tree that opens out to a heart shape, and ultimately to Jomon Sugi, estimated to be the oldest tree in Japan. It’s estimated to be somewhere between 2000 and 7200 years old.
My next stop was Ibusuki. There, I visited Chirin Island. It’s accessed by walking across a sand bar that only appears during low tide in spring time. Later, I went to a suna-mushi sand hot spring. There, the onsen staff cover you in naturally heated sand along the beach. The warm sand feels so nice! After about 10 minutes, it’s time to leave your sandy cocoon feeling refreshed. I liked Ibusuki very much. It was very peaceful there.
After Ibusuki, I headed to Sakurajima. It’s a beautiful and powerful volcano. There were often large clouds of ash coming out of the volcano. The eruptions sounded like thunder. We saw an old shrine that had gotten buried in a previous eruption.
There was so much ash everywhere!
For my last stop, I stayed in Kagoshima city. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, so there were a lot of people were celebrating hanami. I spent most of my time exploring the city, and trying the local food. I especially enjoyed black pork (kurobuta), raw chicken (torisashi), satsumaage, kibinago, shirokuma, and satsuma shochu.
I enjoyed Kyushu very much, and hope to go back soon for another visit.