Kumamoto Mystery Destination

After leaving Aso Farmland, we were soon back on the long and winding roads of the Kumamoto countryside. With music pouring through the speakers of Shelby, Chads tiny but ballsy car, we watched the scenery change around us. From Hills, to towns, to villages, to valleys, we saw the beauty of Kumamoto. I was most curious about this destination. The entire trip had been a little bit of a mystery, but with time ticking on my interest was peaked.  Winding ever on, we finally arrived at a small village, passing many onsen along the way, the pipes spewing out steam.

With the hands on the clock pushing six, we soon came to a standstill, the traffic surprisingly heavy for a small village between two mountains. It didn’t take long for us to find out why. Nestled between two large mountains either side a roaring river, sits Tsuetate 「杖立」, a small onsen retreat in the heart of Kumamoto. I had forgotten that today, May 5th, was Children’s day 「子供の日」and Tsuetate, as I later found out, was famous for celebrating it. Hundreds of carp streamers「鯉のぼり」 hung above the river, dancing on the wind as it made it’s journey through the valley. It was honestly breathtaking. Easily one of the most beautiful things I have seen, like something straight out of a Miyazaki Hayao masterpiece. Due to traffic, we were a little late to dinner, but thanks to the kindness of our patrons, we had a delicious dinner laid out for us upon our arrival.

IMG_7175_FotorIMG_7208_FotorIMG_7209_Fotor

IMG_7193_Fotor IMG_7198_Fotor

We spent our evening relaxing in the onsen after a delicious meal, with me and Mamie having a good bonding session in the soothingly hot water. By the time we got back to our rooms, our beautiful wooden table had been swapped for four comfortable futons, which we all soon fell into. Not before having some delicious beers of course. There is honestly nothing more relaxing than sitting with your friends, wearing Yukata and listening to the crashing of water below you as you sip your beverage of choice.

The next day the tight schedule continued. Even more so in fact due to it being our last day, we still had a lot to see before we arrived back in Nagasaki! After an equally exquisite breakfast, we decided to go on a little adventure and explored the small area of Tsutate before we left. With a tunnel of wishes, twists and turns everywhere you went and stunning views, I immediately decided that those who live in the area were some of the luckiest people alive and that I too, in return, was lucky for being able to come here, even if for a short while.

    IMG_7219_Fotor IMG_7220_Fotor IMG_7222_FotorIMG_7229_Fotor  IMG_7234_FotorIMG_7238_FotorIMG_7236_Fotor

If any of you have no plans next Golden Week, I cannot recommend this place enough. With a raindbow of colour blowing in the breeze above your head, and old mountains either side protecting you, I promise nothing but a dream like experience.

Thank you for reading

❤︎❤︎

Advertisements

Golden Week: Kumamoto Day 2!

With day one under our belt, it was time to get up and face the rest of our Kumamoto trip!

Since Mamie and Mrs. Nakamura made the deliciousness that was Vegetable/meat curry the night before, it was mine and Chad’s turn. We tried our hand at french toast, and thanks to his ingenious idea of adding my apple tea flavoured blendy stick to the mix, they turned out delicious. With full bellies we soon departed, saying goodbye to the wonderful cottage, but not before taking one last dip in the onsen styled bath. IMG_7098_Fotor

Our first point of call was Kusasenri-ga-hama 「草千里ヶ浜」 or Kusasenri grassland for all you lovely non Japanese speakers.  Located in the Aso Area, Kusasenri-ga-hama is a stretch of land that spreads over the northern base of Mt. Eboshidake and offers a wonderful view of the ever smoking Mt. Nakadake. Unfortunately for us, there was quite a lot of volcanic activity that day, and going up to view the crater was off limits. We settled, however, for the lovely view from the grass plains. With the sun high in the sky but a breeze keeping us cool, we spent a good hour strolling about and taking pictures of the stunning area. With a busy day ahead of us, we didn’t didn’t stay long, so after washing our feet we were back in the car and on our way to our next destination. A destination that would bring out the grumpies in more than one of us. 

IMG_7103_FotorIMG_7109_Fotor

Aso farmland, a place for both adults and kids, but mainly kids, is situated in the Aso region, high up in the hills. With little Nakamura wanting to go to the fun area, me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan saw this as a chance to separate ourselves for a moment, and to just enjoy wondering the shops. By this point, food had been scarce and the hours long, and our designated driver Chad seemed to be reaching his limits. This showed in a serious case of grumpiness, one that was -thankfully- soon cured with some well deserved ice cream! With our spirits lifted we decided to head to the Zoo, where we got to make friends with an array of cute and noisy animals.

(We also found some crazy looking mushrooms which were the most satisfying thing to look at)

IMG_7139_Fotor IMG_7148_Fotor
10712638_10153181795140901_3594970436243158856_o 11071042_10153181810475901_8042830846038332930_o 11194420_10153181797680901_4008398740374451712_o 11206490_10153181811905901_7618688331478002141_o 11206649_10153181808625901_8473687947353244391_o_Fotor(A slightly tentative Naomi with a pretty sassy owl)

We were soon on the road again, ready to make our way to our last destination; The Mystery destination. A destination so beautiful that halfway through writing this post I felt it deserved it’s own. So I’ll just have to keep you in suspense until the big reveal!

Hope you have a good day! Thanks for visiting ❤︎

Golden Week Part 2: Kumamoto day 1

Kumamoto, a place that stole my heart the moment I stepped off the bus when I visited during my year abroad. With the top of Kumamoto castle peering over the edge of the trees, it watches over all of Kumamoto. My stay last time, however, had been brief, so when Chad suggested we join our friends on their Golden Week Kumamoto travels, I was overjoyed.

We were to set out the day after we got back from Kitakyushu, and the 5 am wake up call was less than desirable. So, a Gasto breakfast later, the four of us; me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan all crammed into Chad’s little car and off we went, following the wonderful Nakamura family, our party leaders for this mini excursion. Catching the ferri from Shimabara to Kumamoto, we arrived in the late morning, and already the city area around the castle was jam packed with cars from all over Japan. We even saw some number plates from Hokkaido!IMG_7056

With food on the mind we happily followed the Nakamura’s to a little Ramen shop, tucked away down some inconspicuous street. Chad was sweetly worried because I’m a veggie, and in honestly, so was I. Not that I told him that of course. Thankfully, I managed to nap some meat free cold noodles, and scoffed them down as well as I could, leaving only a little. We were, however, greeted by a surprise as we left, with a line of people queuing up down the street waiting to get into the small restaurant. Unbeknown to us all, Mr.Nakamura had cleverly timed this, making sure we got there before the rush of hungry people wanting to try some of Kumamoto’s finest ramen. Damn, if only I had payed closer attention to the name of the place!

It was then off to the castle. Just as it had before, the large , grand architecture of Kumamoto castle wowed me once more. I would have probably spend forever staring at it had The Nakamura’s daughter not attracted herself to me early on into the trip and was thus my ever playful companion. She dragged me this way and that and by the time we sat down for a drink I was beat. Thank go for Chad’s quick thinking, pulling up the games on his phone for her to play with, buying me ten minutes to have a reprieve. With winding staircases, far off views of buildings protected by mountains and golden walls that transport you back to a much different time, Kumamoto castle is defiantly a place I would recommend. Sadly, the small samurai show I saw two summers ago wasn’t on today; my new little sister would have enjoyed that.

IMG_7064

Kumamoto castle


IMG_7078 IMG_7075

We were soon off again, calling to buy some materials before making our way to our accommodation for the evening, a cabin near Mt. Aso. It was compact and cozy, with high ceilings and porch which I refused to step out on thanks to the millions of bugs gathering there. The Nakamura’s took the downstairs bedroom, while me, Chad, Mamie and Ethan took the two double beds in the loft. Our evening was spent playing Uno, dining on delicious vegetable curry (curtesy of Mamie and Mrs. Nakamura) and a lovely soak in the indoor onsen. Yes, you heard right, on top of everything, this place had an indoor onsen like bath, with windows that covered two walls, allowing us to see into the forestry outside. All in all, it was a perfect end to a perfect first day.