Kyushu 5D4N [Trip report]

Day 1

Fukuoka Airport – Kushida Shrine – Hakata Station – Kagoshima Station – Senganen – Hakusuikan

After arriving at Fukuoka airport, we headed to Kushida Shrine. It is a Shinto Shrine located in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan. Dedicated to Amaterasu and Susannoo, it is said to have been founded in 757. The Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, started 750 years ago, is centered on the shrine. They often celebrate this annual summer festival from 1st to 15th of July. In the early morning of 15th July, hundreds of men race along a 5 km course while carrying almost 10-meter tall and 1-ton floats on their shoulders. This festival attracts nearly 1 thousand visitors each year.
Culture Trivia
Residents will avoid eating cucumbers during the 15-day festival period as the round shape of cucumber slices resembles to the emblem of the deity worshiped in Kushida-shrine.

Access
On foot: 10 minutes from JR Hakata Station
Train: 5 minutes’ on foot from Nakasu-Kawabata Station on the Kuko (Airport) Line

Kushida-shrine-2

The main shrine
Kushida-shrine-3

One of the 1-ton floats displayed in the shrine

Next, we transfer to Kagoshima by Shinkansen. Before boarding, we bought our lunch box in Hakata station (Ekiben in Japanese). You can find a variety of ekiben in almost all train stations that have long-distance trains. Ekiben is definitely not the kind of fast food that commuters buy in rush just to fill them up, ekiben shop in train stations provides a variety of lunch boxes with local ingredients and specialties. The price range is from JPY 1,000 to JPY 3,000. If you forget to buy bento before boarding, not to worry ! Some long-haul trains also sell lunch box on the train.
Make sure to experience ekiben while traveling on the bullet train to soak up the bento culture in Japan!

Ekiben

Lunch box bought in Hakata station (Ekiben)

After an hour and 16 minutes train ride, we finally arrived at Kagoshima station. We then made our way to Sengan-en, a traditional Japanese garden that has been passed down in the Shimadzu family for over 350 years. The garden boasts spectacular views of active volcano Sakurajima, and the house provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of a powerful feudal lord.
Sengan-en and the surrounding area was fundamentally important in the modernization of Japan. It was here that Western industrial technology was introduced to Japan, studied and used in the creation of modern factories.
Shoko Shuseikan is a museum set in a 150 year old stone building originally used as a machine factory.
Learn about the 700 year history and culture of the Shimadzu family, and the first steps towards the industrialization of Japan.

Senganen garden

Sengan-en garden
Senganen garden 1

Sengan-en garden
Senganen garden 2

Sengan-en garden

Our accommodation for tonight is Hakusuikan

Room view

Room view
Satsuma-tensho-no-kan

Satsuma Tensho No Kan is a museum facility within Ryokan vincinity
Room view

Tea set
Satsuma-tensho-no-kan

Superb multi-course Japanese dinner (Kaiseki)

Day 2

Hakusuikan – Ikedako Paraside– Kousei Sushi School – Kirishima Shrine – Sakura Sakura Onsen – Aoshima Shrine – Devil’s washing Board – Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort

We start our 2nd day with a visit to Lake Ikeda.
It is the largest caldera lake on the island of Kyushu with a depth of 233 meters and is located within a 15 km area that was made by volcanic activity. Inside of the lake live giant eels which grow up to 1.8 m long, 60 cm thick and can weigh up to 20 kg and are registered as natural monuments. Various flowers of the seasons are planted around the lake and in January, you can see around 940,000 of the earliest blooming rape blossoms in Japan. The lake is also famous for the local legendary sea monster, Isshi, who is yet to be identified. Near the lakeside is the visitor’s center, Ikeda Paradise, where you can see live giant eels and also the large athletic grounds of Ikeda Park.

Lake Ikeda

Lake Ikeda on a cloudy day

After that, we had fresh sushi lunch at Kousei Sushi School. Being a seaside town, Kagoshima offers the freshest seafood yield from their waters.

Sushi-at-Kousei-Sushi-School

Sushi lunch

Later, we visited Kirishima shrine, where housed a sacred tree that has lived 800 years. It is said to be the ancestor of Japanese cedars across southern Kyushu and believed to have great powers to answer prayers.
The shrine for mountain worship was built around the 6th century. Originally it was at the foot of the sacred mountain Takachiho-no-mine but repeatedly burnt down due to volcanic eruptions and was moved to the current location. The current shrine buildings are reconstructions made in 1715 and designated as Important Cultural Property of Japan.
According to Japanese myths, Ninigi no Mikoto, grandson of the queen of gods Amaterasu, governed the area, which is now attracting attention as a location with strong mystical energy in recent years.
The splendor of Kirishima Shrine’s decoration is outstanding. It is referred to as “The Nikko of the West” in comparison with the gorgeous architectural style of Nikko Toshogu in Tochigi. Columns and joists are vermilion lacquered and decorated with many richly-colored reliefs. In fall, red leaves create an impressive and vivid scenery in harmony with the glamorous building
Culture Trivia
The meaning of torii, the enormous gate you often find in shrines: It indicates the boundary between ordinary people and Gods and that the territory beyond the gate belongs to Gods. Japanese people not only bow when praying at the main shrine, but also before going through the gate to show their respect to the Gods.

Kirishima-shrine

Kirishima Shrine
Kirishima-shrine-1

The fog gave the shrine a more mysterious look

Next, we were excited to have our first experience with the natural mud hot spring at Sakura Sakura Onsen.
These natural mud baths, full of hot spring ingredients such as sulfur, are the pride of the resort.
Mud is left to dry after being applied to the body. After washing the mud away with warm water mixed with face wash cream or soap, the natural mud pack leaves the skin smooth and glowing.
Mud packs may be applied not only to the face and body but anywhere, including the hair. As well as beautifying properties, this mud pack also promotes perspiration and also helps stiff shoulders and weight loss. A highly recommended experience !

Sakura Sakura Onsen

The mud bath was so enjoyable and relaxing

The last but also the most anticipated sightseeing spot of day 2 is Aoshima Shrine on Aoshima Island. It boasts a magnificent view of the open sea and the rare geological phenomenon called Devil’s Washboard.
Aoshima Island is a small, beautiful island just off of the coast of the resort beaches south of Miyazaki City. Aoshima is connected to the mainland by a bridge and is ringed by white beaches surrounding a subtropical jungle at the island’s center.
It is a 1.5 kilometer walk around Aoshima’s beaches with a number of canvas stands selling souvenirs along the way. At the center of the island is Aoshima Jinja, a colourful shrine set back in the jungle that is said to bring luck to married couples.

Access
Train: 10 minutes walk from JR Aoshima Station.
Bus: 5 minutes walk from Aoshima bus stop on the Aoshima Line.
Car: 25 minutes from Miyazaki Station.

Aoshima-shrine

Aoshima shrine
Aoshima-shrine

The Aoshima shrine is said to bring luck to married couples

The shallow water around the island has a geological phenomenon known as Oni no Sentakuita, or Devil’s Washboard. Visible at low tide, these perfectly straight rows of basalt rock look as if they must be the remnants of something manmade. They are natural formations, however, which can be found farther south along the Nichinan Coast as well.

Aoshima-island-from-the-sky

Aoshima island full view ©JNTO
Aoshima-shrine

The Devil’s Washboard

Finally, we transferred to our hotel “Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort”

Room-in-Sheratn-Grande-Ocean-Resort

Ocean view room
Breakfast-at-Phoenix-golf-club

The traditional Japanese-style breakfast

Stay tuned for Part 2 !

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