Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day 16 - Sakurajima

On our way to the ferry port, we passed this ugly blue window-less building.
Guess what it is: A vertical parking lot! Due to an elaborate system,
the cars get lifted up like in a "Paternoster" elevator.

For today, we planned to visit Sakurajima with the (famous) vulcano called Sakurayama. Since vulcanos are everywhere in Japan, if you see one, it is very probable that you see it from the caldera of its huge predecessor vulcano. It was like that in Aso, and it is the same in Kagoshima - with the difference that the Aso caldera is full of green rice fields, while the Kagoshima caldera has been filled by the sea. It's terrific, but terrifying.

Tha active vulcano Sakurayama in the background. While the big white clouds are regular water steam clouds, the diffuse darker grey one on the right is produced by Sakurayama's crater. In the front you can see a part of the longest foot bath in Japan. The yellowish colour of the water comes from the vulcanic heating. It is 51.4 degrees hot.

The ferry ride from Kagoshima to Sakurajima is only some 15 minutes long - like a wide river. In cooperation with a tourist family from China, we found out after our arrival in a mix of English, Japanese and Chinese conversation with the locals which bus to take for the round-the-Island Sightseeing Tour and where and when it would depart. Having two hours left before its departure, we visited the vulcano visitor center and tried the world's (or at least Japan's) longest foot bath. We arrived at the one end, and the water looked okay, a bit yellowish, maybe, like coming straight out from the vulcano. Though we saw families bathing happily, I was surprised even more when I saw the information billboard, on which I couldn't read anything except "51,4° Celsius". I couldn't believe that! Together with my father we bathed our feet in that incredibly hot water... In the beginning it was quite painful, though the air temperature was over 30° Celsius, and that's why I hoped the foot bath to be freshly cold. After some time of suffering, my feet somehow got adapted to that heat, and it got even better when I relaxed. But with all good spirits, I couldn't stand it any more after what seemed to be an eternity, but actually was only 3 or 4 mins.

So we caught our bus, got some English and Chinese informations, and the bus trip began. The guide could only speak Japanese, but sometimes pointed us to the number in the written English language guidebook so that we could follow the explanations - which were given orally in Japanese without any interruption for nearly two and a half hours! Sometimes there were big question marks where we were now, and what a pity for some beautiful views, too, because we had to read (the guidebook), look (out of our windows) and listen (to the English numbers hidden in the Japanese explanation) simultaneously.

This torii used to be 3m high, but the ash rain of the 1914 eruption buried it.
Even the graves have their own roof to protect them from the ash that's
coming down constantly.

This is the view from the back window of a small tourist shop on the back side of the island. One can see the smoking crater behind the red torii. In the shop we could try some local pickeled radish - for which Sakurajima holds the size record  40kg, circumference 1,5m. In contrast, their oranges hold the record for the smallest oranges, they look like small cherries. The radish was offered in brown, pink and white, and they had even something that tasted like sour honey, but which actually was sweet potatoe with vinegar.

1 JPY coins put into the lava, probably
when it was still warm, because
the coins couldn't be moved at all.
Floor picture in the Kyoto University Observation
Building, the highest safe place on the island.

After more than two weeks without any Italian style pasta dishes or vegetables, we decided to look for an Italian restaurant, which unfortunately happened to be full. Luckily we found the "Red Pepper", a wonderful Japanese-style steak restaurant, and we were so thankful for some good meat.

No comments:

Post a Comment