It has unfortunately taken me sometime to go through, edit and post this article and the many photos in it. I went to Japan (Miyazaki prefecture mainly) back in November for about 10 days to visit my girlfriend Alex. She's an English teacher in the area, and we visited numerous areas of interest in her region. I landed in Miyazaki, went south to Nichinan, visited Miyakonojo (that has an amazing toy/video/figurine store), drove to Kagoshima city, amazing place which we had a chance to visit an aquarium and see Mt. Sakurajima up close. There were still many exciting pit stops between each destination.
Though this post is late, it's being posted one week after I myself have moved to Japan for a teaching position. I am in the Tochigi prefecture about 2 hours north of Tokyo. Because I'll be spending the next year (maybe more...) in Japan, it means I'll be unable to attend any of my usual conventions in North America. What I am going to try and do is visit local cons in my area, such as Comiket in the Tokyo area.
I'm going to miss not being able to attend all my beloved conventions, including Anime North which I have been attended every year since 2004. I guess I was able to only attend 11 years in a row...
But from this sadness, emerge new opportunities, adventures, and challenges that await me! I've been posting on my twitter account some mildly interesting and crazy things that I've done/seen. The photos below should give you a vaguely decent idea of what's in Japan if you've never been before. I'm still learning new things everyday and realize how backwards both the East and West are in some things.
The ONLY place I've been able to connect to free wifi so far has been at the Tokyo Haneda airport... before the customs check at which point I lost it. Everywhere else seems to require to be a customer of their local cellular carriers. Not even McDonald's, or Tully's Coffee offer complimentary wifi it seems.
With that said, take a look at the photos below, I've added some text to help fill in the blanks. There would be too much to write about, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment/question below or tweet me. Who knows, maybe you will go to Japan some day : )
Aoshima Island - The Ogre's Washboard
A small island with a shrine in the middle. This was the first place Alex and I visited coming back from Miyazaki. Natural rock formation surrounded the island, it was quite something to see.
Udo Jingu Shrine
Birthplace of the 1st Emperor of Japan. You pay a donation and throw small ceramic stones into a pool of water (if your aim is good) for good luck.
Mountains! Hills! Everywhere! It makes for some very unique and exciting landscape. We spent the night at a very traditional-style hotel, included an outdoor onsen.
The mountain at the end is Mt. Sakurajima which was at least 20km away.
Japanese Festival, Archery, and Shrine.
On our way to Kagoshima city, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a festival happening at a shrine. There was plenty of traditional-style Japanese entertainment. Archery, skits, archery, sales of local produce & milk. It was fun to experience such an event, some people just miss out on this stuff : P
A large city of over 600,000 people, it has a lot to offer from what we've seen, an aquarium with an outdoor dolphin-show area, shopping districts, zen gardens, fishing ports, views of Mt. Sakurajima. (Which has affected the city over the decades with its eruptions as it's an active volcano) We visited a museum (no photos allowed :/) that used to be the home to Kagoshima castle which burned down a long time ago. The museum had some amazing display, including huge 12x4 meter dioramas, forced-perspective displays, original weapons, tools, etc... Really awesome place worth checking out.
Kagoshima also has great shopping districts and night life options!
This garden is located just outside of Kagoshima. We visited it after a rainy morning, but it was still very beautiful, the images will speak for themselves. There is a Shoko Shuseikan museum located right beside the garden. We toured through it as it used to be industrial factory which was important to Japan's modernization and entry into an industrial era. Photos were not allowed, so you'll just have to take my word for it. There were original pieces on display, worth checking out.
We went on a hunt for monkeys up a mountain, (k technically we drove up because there was supposed to be a really old tree). Sadly we didn't see any but got to experience lovely super off-road driving. We visited Nichinan castle, which is conveniently located beside a neighboring high-school. Kojima island which is home to many monkeys. Scientists have observed the monkeys for decades. The most interesting fact being that one day a monkey began to wash his sweet potatoe in water, an action which was then mimicked by his mates. The monkey then stood, faced the scientist and said "Ape shall not kill ape." (JK Just made that last part up)
Included above is my visit to a creepy abandoned hotel right beside the ocean shore, photos were taken shortly after sun had set. When I came out, it was raining volcanic ash, likely from Mt. Sakurajima which was about 60km west of us...
The last photos are of the setting sun, which were taking while on my flight back from the land of the rising sun.
This does not account for everything I did. I had the chance to be a temporary English sensei at a senior high school where Alex teaches. It was, to say the least, like out of an anime!
I hope you enjoyed my little photo tour. There is plenty to see and do and Japan, definitely come to visit if you have a chance.
Thanks for tuning in.