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.
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.
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