I made sure our last full day in Japan would be one to remember. I scheduled a live Kabuki performance, the famous Fish Market, and the final day of matches for the September Sumo Basho! Are you ready for this?
Day 8, Sunday, dawned with us on a mission. We had a full day to spend in what is perhaps Japan’s most culturally blessed city, and we were not about to waste it. Furthermore, we had finally outpaced the rainy weather that had been our constant companion since my parents arrived. Ironically, while we were enjoying sunny blue skies in Kyoto, my buddies back in Beppu were hunkered down riding out the year’s biggest typhoon (hurricane) – what luck!
You could honestly spend a year in Kyoto alone and not want for things to visit and study, but with only one day to spare we had to grit our teeth, lace up our shoes, and hit the big 3 – the Imperial Palace, Kinkakuji, and Ryoanji.
So Saturday, Day 7 dawned to find Mom and Drew sleeping soundly in our bunks and Dad up on deck enjoying the sunrise and the final leg of the ferry cruise into Osaka harbor.
Japan is a heavily built-up country as you all know, but the Tokyo and Osaka urban areas easily dwarf the rest of the country with their expansiveness and population densities. I had been to Osaka once before, but this was my first chance to really see it, and it just seemed to go on forever.
Friday, Day 6 began bright and early as we caught a morning train back to Beppu to give us time to take a breather before we boarded the overnight ferry for Osaka that evening. I took advantage of the low number of passengers to grab another hour or so of sleep as we quietly zoomed through the beautiful Kyushu countryside.
The weather remained unchanged with it’s slight drizzle and low-hanging clouds, but I’ve always felt that sort of stuff lends an extra bit of beauty to a lush countryside panorama.
For our big day kicking ass all around Kagoshima, mom and I got a great start by pretending to be dead on the floor of our room. Japanese futons, even the ones you get at a cheap hotel, are damn comfortable – something that my parents will willingly attest to methinks.
The most famous geographic landmark of Kagoshima is the island in the harbor – Sakurajima, or “Cherry-blossom Island.” The island itself is solely composed of a volcano, the last eruption of which a few decades ago actually created a small lava landbridge to shore… so if you want to be picky Sakurajima is no longer a jima! Whether the cherry blossoms in the name are literal, or a metaphor for the fiery heart of the island I don’t know, but mom and I duly commemorated our visit in any case.