Getting off to a shaky start in Japan

4 days in…
We’ve landed and hemiexplorers have started exploring Japan; although not quite how we originally planned – not that we had much of a plan. We flew to Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu, with the idea to visit Mike’s Scouting friends in Kumamoto and after explore the island using a 5 day rail pass.

What we didn’t know was while we were on the plane, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake had hit Kumamoto and had stopped means of transport to the city. After checking that Mike’s friends were ok, we decided to stay another day in Fukuoka and then head down. Unfortunately a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck that night and the damage to Kumamoto was more severe.

Prior to last week I had never experienced an earthquake before and so had no concept of the apprehension and fear that people have living in an earthquake zone. After experiencing Saturday’s earthquake (from 100 km away from Kumamoto) and the aftershocks since, you too gain those feelings when the building starts shaking and you wonder how bad this one will be.

Back to the travelling, so I’m sure you’re wondering where we’ve been exploring?
We started off in Fukuoka, our highlights were the massive wooden Buddha at Tochoji temple and the nighttime street food market, Yatai, the food was good, the company was fun, but drinks were expensive. We also discovered Toyoko Inn, a national chain of budget hotels (approx £40 per night including breakfast) and a last resort if we can’t find a hostel for cheaper.

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Yatai - street food and meeting some of the locals.

Next stop was Nagasaki, 4 hours by bus (the trains weren’t running because of the earthquake). Highlights were the peace park and atomic bomb museum, I liked that you are able to touch some of the exhibits. Also Mt Inasa was well worth a trip up for the views over the city, we went just just before sunset to catch the night time views as well. You can take the ropeway, but high winds (apparently) and being mindful of our budget stopped us from doing this. Alternatively you can take the number 5 bus for around £1 or even walk up (it took us around an hour, even with the off piste track up through the woods) and the observation deck at the top is free.

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Life up on the hillside in Nagasaki.

Next we’re off exploring Kyushu with our 5 day train passes. The shinkansen (bullet train) isn’t running down the west coast due to the earthquake so we’ll take the long way, round the east coast, to the south of the island.

Ya mata (see you soon).

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