I started early in Hiroshima and went to Miyajima Island, to see the floating shrine and everything. It was a nice day and I came at the right time, so the shrine was really in the water and not like at lowtide in the mud. It is a very nice island with cheeky deers that run around everywhere, triying to get some food from the tourists. The shrine is nice too, but maybe not as special as I expected. You really have to get used to the fact, that many of the attractions look very new, because the get repaired, repainted and often even rebuild (sometimes in concrete) in many cases. I eat the specialties which are momji cakes and grilled oysters and continiue my journey.
On my way to Kyushu I see some smaller attractions and meet some other cyclists. First two japanese guys about my age, that want to go from hiroshima to kagoshima in 5 days, but they use the direct way with more traffic so we only travel together for some hours. And when I am about to go through the pedestrian tunnel to Kyushu I see a cyclist (also japanese, my age) with about as much luggage as me, so i ask him about his route. He could not speak any english, but what I understand is, that he at this point had almost completly cycled around the whole of japan (with hokkaido, shikoku, kyushu – with every corner – and even okinawa) and was only about a week or two from finishing his journey at Kofu, where he started it.
Once in Kyushu I went along the coast to get as much out of Kyushu as possible. I ate ramen in Fukuoka, went to a sake brewery in the remote corner of Hirado Island (which is allready a bit remote itself, but reachable by bridge) and from there I went to an even more remote Island (another bridge) where i had stunning views of cliffs and greenery. At the tip of the island I met a japanese guy who was hitchhiking through japan – for 3 months now and ate icecream with two of the locals (one had seen me earlier, where I slept).
In Kyushu i changend my main sleeping place from public park to michi no eki – which means station of the road and normaly consists of toilets, a store which sells souveniers, local food and vegetables, some local information and sometimes a restaurant. I got the idea from the two cyclists from earlier and I still find it hard to believe it myself sometimes, but it seems to be really ok to put up your tent there, just somewhere, even under the roof if the weather is bad. One day when the weather was really bad I put up my tent on an outdoor stage (which belonged to a michi no eki). Two days the wind was so bad that i had to sleep without a tent. But i always found a shelter in some way (roofed big square bench of a parking place from a big nature park (that was closed at night) or carport of a michi no eki). The good thing with wind is: if there is wind, then there are no mosquitoes.
From Hirado I kept hugging the westernmost coast until I was in Nagasaki. The way was very hard to drive because of the many hills and the permanent strong wind from the front, but i was rewarded by beautiful sunsets and scenery. I stayed only one night in Nagasaki, but since i arrived early I was able to do some sightseeing, eat the local cuisine and even wash my clothes. The next day I went to Unzen, which is an onsen (hotspring) town in the height of 750m near the tips of some silent volcanoes. I climed the volcanoes by foot (which was unbelievably hard for me) but could not see much because of clouds and rain. In the evening i looked around the town and its steaming sulfur hotsprings – too hot to bath in – (the whole town smells like eggs). In Unzen i stayed at an official campsite and a little “dinner party” with some japanese (motor)bikers that where very nice. There are many bikers in japan, especially in regions like kyushu and they have all been very nice and friendly so far – and amazed that i do the same routes by bicycle.
From Unzen i went via ferry to Amakusa Island and from there over 5 bridges and a minor detour over Kumamoto to Kagoshima. It was raining for 3,5 days almost without break and the wind was even stronger than before. But i arrived in Kagoshima safely and could wash my wet clothes that had allready started to smell quite a bit (since my bags where only almost waterproof and it was impossible to dry anything over night).
I arrived in Kagoshima on the 17. of August, one day before my birthday check in at the very nice Green Guest House where i meat so many nice people over the next days, that it is impossible for me to mention everyone. On my birthday I do nothing. At least nothing like sightseeing or cycling. I stay in the kitchen/livingroom and talk to many different people. I bake chocolate-redwine cupcakes with the help of Fumi and in the evening Naomi joins us and we go out for dinner and eat some of the specialities of Kagoshima. Later at night i learn some japanese drinking rules while finishing the red wine.
Today i did some minor sightseeing in the city and around and tomorrow i will set out for Sakurajima, the volcano in the bay of Kagoshima, that is one of the worlds most active volcanoes. I will circle it and hopefully be able to watch the giant fireworksdisplay from the foot of the volcano. From there i will go in the general direction of Oita and Beppu the day after.
I miss everyone at home too and you can already plan for somekind of party/bbq on Fr. 7.10.2011 when i am back =).
ps: i will not check for spelling mistakes and typos, because i think some other ppl want to use the pc too. sry.