Kagoshima to Beppu – wild onsen hunting

Yep, i’m in Beppu, since yesterday, But first things first.

On the 20. of August I checked out (walked out the door) at Green Guest House Kagoshima late in the Morning and took the Ferry to Sakurashima (instead of driving around the whole Kagoshima bay).  After getting some information about the volcano and possible (and impossible) sleeping places, I took off to the viewing platform at a heigt of almost 400m, the ascend was brutal, but therefore also shorter than expected. The view was incredible, even though clouds where covering the tip of the Volcano for the whole time I was in the Kagoshima area. After I went down – reaching my speedrecord again, but unable to break it because of curves – I decided to go around the (almost) Island after all and only minutes later I meet Caitlyn (Canada) from the guest house, who almost finished her tour around Sakurajima on a rented bicycle, going the other way around, looking rather exhausted. Only moments later I know why, the tour is very scenic and has some awesome downhills. *hrrhrr*

Back at the ferryport (on Sakurajima) I see Caitlyn again, at the bike rental shop (she is talking to the owners – in japanese). We goto the nearby affordable Onsen/Bathhouse/Sauna  and later we watch the stunning fireworks (hanabi) show at Kagoshima port from across the sea at the seaside park. After that she takes the ferry back to Kagoshima and I go searching for a place to stay. The nearby “multipourpose ground” seems good enough and in the morning I get to see the volcano bathed in a beautiful sunrise. I find sunrises more beautiful then sunsets by the way – they are somewhat fresher and less cheesy/corny.

I decide to not go to Cape Sata, because the way back would either be on the same route or on a very small one with what looked like over 2,500m of height in one day, through nothingness and go to Cape Toi (further northeast) instead to see the wild Miyazaki Ponys (as it is listed on my tourist map as one of the main “nature sights”). After some hillclimbing i get to the cape, and i still cant find words for what i saw there. The ponys seemed less wild than preclaimed, but there where plenty of them to see, and they looked at least free enough to be called wild. But what really struck me was the cape itself. beautiful grassy hills in the evening sun. And after climbing (sprinting up one hill – it was getting late – much to the amusement of some japanese tourists, who only watched from the designated parking and lookout area) I got a 360* panorama of the sea, the sourrounding cliffs and hills and the small fishing town down at the coast. I slept a little further at a Michi no Eki (MnE) where I got to see the next beautiful sunrise the next day.

I had one day of relaxation, only cycling 45km and going to the beach along the way for some refreshment in the water and sunbathing – or should I say speedfrying. Man the sun is mean here.

The next day was less exiting but I drove some good distance due to wind from the back and flat roads.

Yesterday I wanted to drive about 120km through what looked like and proofed itself to be a rather mountainous area. After an exhausting day with many hills and national road that suddenly turned into an old and mossy one-lane mountain passe with no traffic at all (well one car in about 45minutes) – but remember, that is always a good indicator for nice views and interesting nature – I arrive at a small MnE some km before Oita, where my wish to put up my tent is seen as idiotic and impossible. So I put my remaining carbon hydrates (some raisin bread and cereal bars) to good use and drive the remaining 45km to Beppu Guest House in… well, in Beppu, where I can get a place to sleep (yatta!) on the 4th floor [german: 3. stock] (taihen desu!).

Today I went to search for one of the hidden onsen, that were mentioned in my lonely planet guidebook. It was only about 13km away but I had to climb about 550m of height on the second half of the way, with the last 2km beeing 250m of that, proofing to be almost impossible the climb standing in the first gear even without my luggage. Well I guess you where not supposed to ride there by bicycle, or at least with a mountainbike of some sort, since I had real problems with the gravel path that led up there. But I somehow made it and got rewarded plenty. The wild outdoor onsen that was build there by the locals, named “Hebi n Yu” meaning Snake Bath for it’s snakelike cascading set of natural bath tubs, was what I wanted to experience for a long time. A few locals where bathing/drying but there where some free “tubs”  so I went in and relaxed for quite some time in the nicely temperated water. After I got out of the water I sat on a bench to dry enjoyed the realisation of beeing on the other end of the earth, in some southern part of Japan, some km of rocky path up a mountain at some small stream, aside a natural hotspring bath, enjoying the view while sitting on a bench naked.

On the way down (wheeee~) I found a “kappa sushi” restaurant – a cheap conveyor belt sushi chain that according to a japanese guy from Kagoshima was a “must try”. And I have to say, it was really good considering that you only have to pay 105Yen for two pieces of sushi or whatever dish comes around. But later I will go to a real sushi restaurant to be able to compare.

Tomorrow I will check out what is left to see here, and probably go to the scent and perfume museum (since that’s about the most interesting not onsen themed thing to do here). Sure I will check out some more onsen here, but you can’t bath in ~43C hot water for the whole day – well I can’t.

And then off to Shikoku, to explore the wilder, more rural and weather battered soutern coast of the island and maybe even do a small detour over some plateau inwards of the island, which is said to be pretty nice. Well I will decide on the way, so far I’m faster than expected.

… and for some data:

Total time in japan: 43 days
Total distance cycled: 2.882 km
Total time cycled: 161 hours and 49 minutes
Total average speed: 17,82 km/h (yep, mountains)
Max. speed: 63,47 km/h
Total height climbed: probably about 15 km by now (over 10 km with altimeter turned on already).

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