This was by far the most relaxing and casual day that we had in Japan thus far. We started off with a nice breakfast then headed off to the shrine in Anna’s hometown.
It’s pretty high up so the walk up was very steep. I knew that in only two days we’d be on a 10 hour hike so when my legs were feeling a bit tired I got even more anxious about our trip. The shrine was empty except for the people who tend to it, so it was nice and quiet.
We took photos and did the purification ritual with the ladles of water you use to wash your hands with. We also bought some cute good luck charms of our zodiac animals. I also took photos of the many large spiders that I saw O_O
We just walked around after leaving the shrine. There’s not too much to look at, but it was fun to see the older Japanese buildings and also occasional stray cat. We also got a yaki-imo which is a hot sweet potato you buy from a food stand.
Anna liked taking unflattering photos of me eating.
Later, Anna’s parents drove us around, we saw Anna’s old elementary school and I got to see her grandmother’s house which had lots of stuff from her childhood. I kept on taking photos of everything in her place because it was so cute. I kept on pointing at things and asking her how old she was when she made them.
Next we went to a mall called “you me town” which is a English/Japanese pun because “you me” sounds like “yume” which means “dream” in Japanese. We did some window shopping and I took some more photos of funny store names, but at some point I was asked to not take photos. I like looking at kitchen appliance stores in Japan because there are all sorts of instruments for specific tasks that I would never think of. Usually they’re more practical than things you see advertised on TV in the U.S.
It was Monday so Anna’s dad’s favorite ramen place was closed so we went to this Tanpopo ramen place. The big surprise about this place were all the side dishes they had which were free O_O They had gyoza, fried chicken, and curry that were totally free with your ramen. This could never ever work in the U.S. The tonkotsu was very good. The noodles were very smooth and went down very easily. I got extra charshu, but they were very thin and had nice melty fat. Actually I was surprised by how many slices they were, but since they were thin I didn’t have any problem finishing the whole bowl.
After this we headed back home to pack all the clothes that we’d need for Yakushima and also our massive backpacks full of hiking gear. I was still feeling pretty nervous about it and felt extremely out of my element with this pack strapped to my back. I couldn’t help but feel like a total city boy.
We took the train down to Kagoshima which was a couple hours away, and took the trolley car to the business hotel we were staying at. This was the first hotel that we stayed at during our Japan trip. It was very amusing to see how small it was.
Even getting off the elevator you could already tell that this hotel was really cramming people in because the ceiling was a few feet lower than you’d see in a normal building. The room fit the bed, and that’s just about it. There was free internet, a reading light, alarm clock built into the bed unit and of course a high tech bathroom with remote control for the toilet.
The bathroom is raised above the ground and is made so that water can spill all around with no leaking problems. Very small, but still well equipped. I kind of wish there was this kind of hotel in the U.S. if it was cheaper I’d gladly stay in a hotel room of this size. It would be a problem for tall Americans though 😛
With all of our stuff dropped off we headed out to find the shabu shabu place that Anna looked up before we left for Kagoshima. Kagoshima is a nice looking city with plenty of activity and stores to go to. There was a lot more to see, but we didn’t go too far from our hotel. Lots of neon, restaurants, malls and stuff to look at. When we got to the shabu shabu place we were greeted by a big black pig butt statue because this shabu shabu place had black pig meat 😛
I love shabu shabu because of how thin and juicy the meat is. This place had super duper juicy meat and very tasty/pretty sides to go with it. It was more expensive than the other places we had eaten at, but we were already well under the food budget we had set for our trip so this indulgence was okay. I was so glad that the restaurant had good light in it so I could take good photographs of the beautiful looking food.
One of the side dishes were tendons which were really well cooked. They weren’t rubbery at all and just fell apart when we ate it. I had a Suntory malt beer which was just what I needed after all the traveling. The couple next to us looked very mismatched so we went on the assumption that the girl was a hostess out on a date with a client.
The other cool thing about this shabu shabu place was they give you soba noodles to put in the water after you’re done eating your meat. Dessert was a delicious pudding that just melted and flavor filled my entire mouth.
We headed back to the hotel where we did some tweeting because we knew that we probably wouldn’t have any internet access once we got to Yakushima. The next morning we’d take the ferry to what would be the most logistically complicated part of our trip where we’d definitely be the fish out of water.
For more photos check out my flickr set for Day 7!