Japan Day Three: Kagoshima

Today was a day for adventures, but mostly because the time adjustment is taking its toll on Aubri (who is only 2 and 9 months). She also hasn’t been eating as well as usual, so last night we force-fed her half of a sandwich and this morning (again at the terrible hour of 4:30ish) we made her eat the other half. And then she had a donut. And an onigiri. So she’s back to eating, fortunately.

Aubri also had unfortunate timing for her spot-naps, so we have way fewer pictures today.

The train combination from Nagasaki to Kagoshima involves going most of the way back to Fukuoka via the Limited Express, and then traveling by Sakura Superexpress (either the 451 or 551) for another two hours to get down to Kagoshima. The ride is very long, and during that combination of rides Aubri melted down in the most noisy way possible.

Fortunately we did finally make it here. Kagoshima is a beautiful city, and so far the most accessible city we’ve found in the south. There are elevators everywhere and the sidewalks are much smoother. Except for our hotel, of course. Hotel Gastoff reminds me of a weird cross between Edwardian and 70s decor, with only an old staircase to get to the flight of rooms. And we use normal keys and leave them at the desk… It’s a bit of a neat experience, but I wouldn’t recommend it with children young enough to need a stroller.

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Also apparently they are freemasons?

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We got here early enough to leave our bags, and head for the most important part of our excursion. Food! The takoyaki and bento we got were actually so delicious we forgot to document them with photos. We also picked up some karukan because we’d heard it was famous. It looks like a rice ball but is made from sweet yams! Here’s the wiki link because mine is in a pretty box.

So then we headed to the real reason for our Kagoshima stop: The volcano, Sakurajima. It’s a short bus ride for 160jpy/ea to the ferry stop, and another 160jpy/ea to get to the island.

Sakurajima is an active volcano (you can see some smoke puffing out of it in my pictures) and it has a shrine at the top. It’s 36km around, so way too far to walk. There are beaches, hot springs, etc all around it because of the volcanic activity bringing up wonderful hot water. The volcano actively explodes in very small scale many times per year, so I wanted to walk on its base (of course).

Here’s the view:

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The island is beautiful and warm, but we’re headed for the public foot baths. It’s only a 600m walk up the hill and around the corner to a foot bath 100m long.

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The water is crazy hot but Aubri is a trooper… until suddenly she has her first accident this whole weekend. Jamie has to rush to the bathroom and clean her up. Of course we don’t have spare clothes (poor kid even made it through the plane trip with great results), so she has to hide her naked bum and shiver with her feet in the warm water while her rinsed-out clothes air dry.

But the view was really gorgeous and some cats came to visit.

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And I took this and was going to ask someone to take one of all three of us. Then Aubri melted down…

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We headed back toward the ferry, but made a quick pit stop for the unique ice cream flavor on the island–it’s based off of the tangerines that grow there. Aubri passed out basically the second we were in line to order.

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We also grabbed some 17! Muscat and Sour Vanilla ice cream…which tasted like a melon soda float and was frankly delicious.
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So then we went back to the station and found a little handmade fair set up. And a Steampunk vendor! 😉 You can’t see them but she has lots of little charms like a complete set of antique keys on a key ring (to .5 cm scale)

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Then we hung out for about three and a half minutes at the hotel…

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We went back to the station to make sure we had everything we needed, and wound up going to this big conglomerate of tiny food shops for dinner. There were 26 shops in this place, each of them slightly different. We chose one of the two ramen shops, and the food wasn’t bad. The kitchen was really creepy though, and Aubri and I are both feeling a little unhappy this morning. The worst part was that Aubri had her second accident there so we had to leave early before Jamie could finish her broth…

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I did discover a really happy combination of garlic, black sesame oil, chili oil and chili paste that makes a pretty intense spicy broth.

This city is mostly a great place for children because there are lots of parks and things to do (as long as they enjoy the outdoors). But I would like to come back when it is warmer so we can enjoy the beach.

Now we managed to get to sleep at a slightly better hour (8, and Aubri didn’t take a 4 hour nap first), so we’ve woken up at 4:30…. And off to Matsuyama!

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