Kyushu Winter Vacation 2012

Hello! smilie
Obviously I’m back from my Kyushu winter vacation. smilie

First of all: HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012! smilie
Let’s hope that the year of the dragon will give us strength and let this be a good year!

Unfortunately I’ll move in 6 weeks. It will be my first move within Japan and there are so, so many things to do that I won’t have much time to post, I’m afraid. I might even be without internet for a while.

I thought I should at least give you a short preview of my Kyushu winter vacation until I have more time again!~
Here we go:

I went to many places in 11 days. Among them were: Nakatsu and Yufuin (in Oita Prefecture), Takachiho, Nobeoka and Miyazaki (in Miyazaki Prefecture), Yakushima (in Kagoshima Prefecture), Gunkanjima, Omura, Hirado and Shimabara (in Nagasaki Prefecture).
Previously I’ve already been to many other places in Kyushu, so this time I wanted to visit places I’ve not been to yet.

Kyushu winter vacation: Yufuin in Oita Prefecture Kyushu winter vacation: Yufuin in Oita Prefecture

Shopping and relaxing in Yufuin. It was super cold. Luckily Yufuin in a onsen town, so you can soak in a hot spa to warm up any time!

Kyushu winter vacation: Takachiho

One of my personal highlights was definitely Takachiho!
I went there on December 31st, so there were a lot of people!
I also took a boat tour for 1500yen. At first I thought it’s a waste of money and boring alone, but it was totally worth it and a lot of fun!

Kyushu winter vacation: Takachiho

Power spot: Pile stones to get lots of power for this year! I did it, too!

Kyushu winter vacation: Kagura dance in Takachiho Shrine

And one of the absolute highlights: Kagura dance at night at Takachiho Shrine!
I took many videos and will upload them to Youtube sooner or later. I still need to figure out how I can edit them and put them together while keeping the HD quality (^-^’)

Kyushu winter vacation: Imayama Shrine in Nobeoka

On January 1st I went to a shrine on a hill (Imayama) in Nobeoka City with a huge statue. If you touch its feet, you’ll be blessed with good fortune.

Kyushu winter vacation: Aoshima in Miyazaki

On the way to Aoshima, a very small island in Miyazaki that can be accessed via a small bridge. Famous for Aoshima Shrine and the demon’s washboard.

Kyushu winter vacation: Udo Shrine in Miyazaki

Another highlight for me was Udo Shrine, also in Miyazaki, Nichinan coast. So beautiful.
Actually this was the only day with good weather!

Kyushu winter vacation: Moai in Miyazaki

Moai at Sunmesse Park, also in Miyazaki.


Yakushima. Don’t be fooled by this photo, the weather was absolutely horrible!
First of all, the weather changed every few minutes and my first driving experience was in the middle of a typhoon with super high waves, extremely strong rain and whatnot!
There was also lots of snow and it was super cold. Crazy, but beautiful island!

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

Most of the time the weather looked like this!!

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

At least I got to see so many rainbows thanks to the super crazy weather :)

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

There are many smaller and bigger waterfalls on Yakushima.

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

Of course, I also went to Yakusugi Land and Shiratani, but only the short walking courses were easily accessible, because the other routes just had far too much snow!

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

I also went to the “Princess Mononoke” forest (the forest that inspired Hayao Miyazaki).

Kyushu winter vacation: Gunkanjima in Nagasaki

Back from Yakushima I went to Nagasaki to visit yet another small island: Gunkanjima (also known as: Battleship Island).

Kyushu winter vacation: Gunkanjima in Nagasaki

It’s an uninhabited island. Until 1974 up to 5000 people lived there, working at a coal mine, but when the demand changed to oil, business didn’t go too well, so all the people left the island rather quickly.
Since then the island has been exposed to typhoons and tsunamis and so the buildings there slowly fall apart.

Kyushu winter vacation: Gunkanjima in Nagasaki

That’s why until recently you were not allowed to even access the island. Now it’s possible again, but only to certain areas and only with a tour guide (Japanese only)!

Kyushu winter vacation: Hirado in Nagasaki Kyushu winter vacation: Hirado in Nagasaki

Hirado in Nagasaki: the only place where you can see a traditional Japanese temple with a Christian church in the background! It’s a very popular motive for postcards.

Chanpon in Nagasaki

While in Nagasaki I ate a lot of “chanpon” (ちゃんぽん) and “sara udon” (皿うどん). I love “chanpon” so much that I eat it even outside of Kyushu, but it tastes best in Nagasaki – if you ask me!

Kyushu winter vacation: Anjin Miura's grave in Hirado, Nagasaki

In Hirado I also visited the grave of “Anjin Miura” – or “William Adams” which is his original name. Some of you might know him better from the drama series “Shogun” with Richard Chamberlain??! (note: the movie doesn’t match with the real story!)
I’ve been a huge fan of Anjin and so it was such an honor to be able to visit his grave!

Kyushu winter vacation: Shimabara Castle

I got to see a lot of awesome castles again! I think by now I’ve been to over 60 Japanese castles.

In the picture above you see Shimabara Castle (Nagasaki).

Kyushu winter vacation: Yakushima

I also came across a lot of cute and funny things again.

Kyushu winter vacation: Mt. Unzen in Shimabara

I visited yet another active volcano in Japan: Mt. Unzen in Shimabara City!

Kyushu winter vacation: Mt. Unzen in Shimabara, the hells, hot springs

And when there’s a volcano, hot springs are not far!
The “hells” of Unzen are not as great as the ones of Beppu (I visited them in winter 2009 – will post about it in the future, too!), but have a sad history.
When Christianity was forbidden in Japan again, they dragged all Christians to the “hells” and tortured them there, finally throwing them into the boiling hot water of the hot springs if they refused to throw away their faith … :(

And there you go.
This was a super brief review of my winter vacation, I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless.
Despite the horrible weather it was a really nice vacation. I met a lot of interesting people and saw so many beautiful things again.
Too bad it’s already over. :(

Thanks for reading!~

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