Kagoshima

This morning we’re headed to one of the South-most tips of Japan, Kagoshima.

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With our remaining days (only 5 left 😦 ), we’ll make our way back up to Tokyo. Hiroshima and Kyoto are definitely on the list of places we want to see before we leave.

We jumped on the Shinkansen at 6:50 this morning, and should arrive in Kagoshima by 11.

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I cannot even tell you how valuable this Japan Rail Pass has been! It’s expensive ($442 for unlimited use for 14 days, only available to foreigners to be purchased before getting to japan) but so so so worth it! Our trip today alone would have cost close to $200 so we’ve easily gotten our money’s worth with all the moving around we’ve been doing. It’s also SO NICE to have the peace of mind that if we miss a train or need to change our plan and backtrack, our money is not being wasted. Especially since we don’t speak fluent Japanese so there is definitely some element of miscommunication. We saw the most horrendous exchange between some American tourists (a middle aged couple) and the JR ticket staff in Takayama. Apparently they booked a ticket (using a credit card) not knowing that they had to transfer twice before getting to their destination. They said they didn’t want to transfer because “they didn’t know Japanese” and wanted to take the direct bus instead, so cancel the transaction. This is all good and fine, but the ticket people had no idea what they were getting at. So they refused to sign the receipt and kept saying “cancel” and “we made a boo boo” in loud voices. The staff thought they were crazy, which was only confirmed by the woman grabbing the closest piece of paper (a timetable that was not meant to be taken) and RIPPING IT UP! The staff finally understood, but what an impression to give about Americans! Why would you come to Japan not knowing ANY Japanese?! At least know the basics or try OR just be respectful of the fact YOU don’t know THEIR language so it’s your shortcoming, not theirs! I should also mention that many Japanese natives know at least a little bit of English so they will definitely do their best to meet you half way with the language barrier. We’ve had very few problems with our limited knowledge of the language paired with patience and smiles. Anyways, I love our JR passes. They are a great deal and give me such peace of mind.
Rant over.

It’s rainy and gray today, but supposed to be sunny the rest of our time here.

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Perfect day to travel the longest distance and spend time on the super cushy train 🙂 Check out those wood arm rests!

When we got to Kagoshima we paid a visit to the Tourist Information Center to set up a bus tour that would take us to see the volcano, Sakurajima!

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So touristy, but it’s a cheap “taxi” ride around the island at $23/person on a rainy day! Then we reserved seats to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen and a hotel for tomorrow night.

We had an hour and a half to kill before the tour so we set off to find some lunch in the train station. We settled on what we thought was a hot pot place, but figured out it was Korean bbq when they served us kimchi!! Lol.  Not only that, but Abe was so worried about being able to order, he told the host in Japanese “I want to order that” and pointed to the sign outside the restaurant. The host was like okaaaay… and sat us at our table (more like a bench I guess) and the menus totally had pictures on them! Lesson learned. We ordered by pointing at the menu and then the waitress brought us a cabbage salad and kimchi.

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It was tasty! She came back to check on us when we were done and we thought she asked us if we were done, so we said “yes, thank you” as she cleared our plates. But then she came back with more! She must’ve asked us if we wanted more! Oops. So we ate it. I wanted a salad last night, didn’t I?!

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Then she came out with our entrees and prepared them in front of us. We didn’t really know what we were ordering, but guess what – it was more rice!

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And delicious mixed rice at that! Abe’s was super good and cheesy, but mine was just okay. I really don’t even know what was in it.

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We also got a seaweed soup with the lunch deal, so it ended up being a lot of food for $16!! Successful lunch!

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But this is technically what your supposed to order at this restaurant. See the open pit? It’s like a grill you cook your meat on.

With full bellies, we were off to the tour. The tour guide didn’t speak any English (which we knew going into it) but they had these handy English summaries she woud reference so we weren’t so lost!

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She would say “#4” and then proceed to speak in Japanese and point stuff out. It worked out well! The highlight of the tour was to get to see the volcano. It used to be on an island, but erupted and spread so much lava that it’s now connected to the mainland!  Even still, we (and the tour bus! ) got to take a ferry over.

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It was so foggy. We hoped that once we got closer we would still be able to see the volcano through the fog, but that just wasn’t the case.

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And we found this hilarious! There should be a volcano behind us… I think. The poor tour guide (I think) kept stopping at all her normal good view spots but they were all fogged in. We couldn’t see anything! Lol!!
Other highlights of the tour:

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Abe’s a total Tourist with his camera and lanyard they gave us so we wouldn’t get lost.

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Beautiful inlet with boats.

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Buried torri gate from one of the eruptions. (On the right)

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Gorgeous lava observation point.

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Yellow tail traps.

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Some mystery candied fruit from one of the rest stops.

Then we headed to check into our hostel The Green Guest House. We’re staying in mixed dorms which is a first for us!

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They’re like little cubicles! It was the only thing available since we made our reservation so late.

Abe headed out for a workout by the wharf, and low and behold, we could see the volcano!!!

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There’s a beautiful wharf area near the hostel so I sat and blogged/read while he exercised.

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Then we headed back to take showers and back to the wharf for dinner.

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Freaking. Delicious. I got udon with tempura shrimp and a sweet potato/carrot/onion nest thing that apparently is a specialty in this area. Totally affordable at a whopping $24 for both of us!

We got ice cream on our way home and now time for bed! Heading to Hiroshima and Miyajima in the morning!

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