After a crazy loud reunion in Singlish late the night before, we headed out early the next morning to pick up our car. LQ and LC both had licences, so this trip we didn’t have to be at the mercy of public transportation. Yay!
So we headed off on our adventure towards Kumamoto. The plan was to head for the castle first. It was a nice, sunny day, and the park around the castle was filled with families. LC came upon a group of older men practising some kind of top-spinning, and they were happy to show us what they were doing. Sorry to say the pics will not be posted as they have our faces in them.
We walked up to the gate and took some pictures, but chose not to go in because 1) we were working on a tight schedule (and I mean TIGHT), and 2) having been in Japan for close to a year now, most of us had enough of castles.
One thing we learnt though – just because a Japanese person has a hugeass professional-looking camera does not mean that he knows how to take good pictures. Best way to take a picture the way you like it? Take one the way you like it first, then show the person you’re asking. Japanese pictures tend to focus too much on the face and not enough on the scenery.
Next, we headed for our hotel to check-in before heading for the highlight of the day, dolphins viewing at Amakusa.
Amakusa is a chain of islands along the west coast of Kumamoto, almost 3 hours away by car. We drove down some very scenic roads and pulled up along a whole road full of dolphin sight-seeing tours.
When we got here I suddenly recalled the episode of V6’s Gakko e Ikko where they did the exact same thing we were about to do.
Our booking was for 5pm, and the boat carried the five of us and another group including 2 children. After everyone got their life jackets on, we were off.
The tour was great fun, and we saw many dolphins. There were quite a few tour boats, and the dolphins amused themselves by following first one boat then another, so we never exactly knew where they were going to leap out from. They knew how to perform, sometimes alternating jumps on different sides of the boat. I swear they rejoiced at our frantic running from one end to the other.
Sad to say, our cameras were often too slow to capture anything, and I only had multiple photos of fins or tails. LQ, in particular a dolphin lover, wailed in despair over her inability to get any nice shots. I still have a video with her wailing XD
Anyway, here. Have a picture of a fin after a spectacular jump.
It was definitely a great experience. Worth visiting if you have a car.
After that, it was another 2.5 hours’ drive back to our hotel. We found a restaurant across the road, but when we got there, it just happened to be closing time. Hungry and tired, we were about to turn and go back to the hotel to drive out again when the door opened and the owner decided to let us in. Rejoicing followed with some very delicious sausages and omurice.
Next morning, we had a hearty breakfast in the crowded dining hall, then went out to take pictures of the pro-wrestling trucks parked outside.
And we were off to see the wizard! I mean volcano!
Kumamoto is full of nature, and being the city kids we are, we just HAD to stop for pictures of horses.
And nice scenery.
Some more driving later and we were in view of the volcano! At the viewing point, you can take pictures of the smoke rising out.
There were restaurants, shops and even a horse riding facility.
The horses smelled…like horses.
And a little more driving later brought us to the volcano itself! The air smelt of sulphur. Moldor, anyone?
Look at all the ash!
Geography class came to mind while I was walking around.
After much barrenness, we decided to go somewhere a little more leafy. As we drove down the road, barren land gave way to rich greenery. At one point in time we noted that the view looked like somewhere out of the European countryside. The hills are alive ♪~
Based on the leaflets we got from the tourist centre, we ended up in a small shrine honouring a natural spring. The beautifully coloured trees were an intense contrast to the volcano we just saw.
There were ripples in the water showing where the spring was welling up from. It was an interesting sight.
And so, a full day of exploration later, we headed back for our guesthouse, had a mass dinner with everyone staying there (okonomiyaki and takoyaki. I can’t leave Kansai, can I?), went to the nearby hotel for a bath at their bathhouse, and came back for a great night sleep. Oyasumi!