Day 32 – Wednesday, February 15, 2017
After a day at sea traveling from Kyoto (and celebrating Valentine’s Day aboard ship), we arrived in Kagoshima.
Kagoshima is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture at the south-western tip of the island of Kyushu in Japan, and the largest city in the prefecture by some margin. It has been nicknamed the "Naples of the Eastern world" for its bay location, hot climate, and emblematic stratovolcano, Sakurajima. For some reason, I have never pictured Japan as having palm trees. It just never occurred to me that the southern parts of the country were tropical.
The city was covered deep in ash after the 1914 eruption of the Sakurajima volcano. Even today the active volcano periodically spews ash over the city. Although I failed to get a photograph, cemeteries on Sakurajima island have individual small roofs over the graves to protect them from ash.
My very first impressions of Kagoshima were positive. I immediately knew this would, for me, be a more enjoyable port than our previous stops in Japan. The weather was beautiful, the temperature in the 50’s. The pier where we docked was lined with palm trees and as most places in Japan immaculately clean. Our tour today was with our travel service, Cruise Specialists. We quickly loaded the coaches and made about a 30 minute drive to the ferry for our trip to the volcanic island of Sakurajima.
Kay on the ferry.
I’m not sure if you would classify it as a sense of humor or a better way to get your attention, but public safety uses cute signs compared to what we normally see in the states.
The Sakurajima radish holds the Guinness Book for the world record largest radish. Some are larger than basketballs!
Bay view from the observation platform on the volcano.
My bride and me.
This is one of several “volcano shelters” we saw along the highway.
Masako, our guide. She was born on Sakurajima island. The current population of the island is under 5000. It is very sparsely populated in relation to most of Japan.
We visited a volcano heated thermal foot bath. It was amazingly refreshing. Not only were there tourists, but locals could be seen getting a reviving foot soak.
One of the most amazing and admirable traits of the Japanese culture is their honesty. A speaker on the ship who has lived in Japan for several years and is married to a Japanese, said that if you lost anything it would eventually be returned to you if in any way it was possible to track you down. This is an example of the honesty. You would see these items for sale left unattended. You simply placed the money in the container and took your purchase. Sadly, in the States the entire basket with the money would not last long.
Looking back to Kagoshima from Sakurajima Island.
Three lovely ladies, Lucia (our Cruise Specialists Host), Kay and Janet.
We had what Kay and I thought was a fabulous lunch of traditional Japanese fare. It consisted of soup and rice, fried fish, fish patties, an assortment of sashimi, a vegetable and pork soup which was individually cooked at your plate and an assortment of other delicious items. Dessert was also served along with Japanese beer.
Kay not only ate her snail, but Janet’s as well.
For those of you who have visited Japan, you are familiar with the toilets. Like most things in Japan, they are hi-tech.
The control panel looks like something from Mission Control at NASA. If you don’t read Japanese, you better study the illustrations closely!
I was absolutely fascinated by the quantity and variety of vending machines. They are everywhere. One of our speakers said there is one vending machine for every 20 persons in Japan. In the US the ratio is about 1 for every 200 persons.
Something else surprising was the cost. Although most things in Japan are very expensive, the items available in vending machines were very reasonably priced. Here you can get a canned coffee (either hot or cold) for less than a dollar. Try that in the states. Notice the “Georgia” coffee. I had to try some (twice). It was amazingly good and is made by Coca-Cola, Atlanta GA. Thus, the name.
You will find vending machines everywhere. In remote places and even along the side of the road.
I speculate that one reason the costs are low is the lack of vandalism. Using a machine requires no expensive attendant and the vending companies do not have to worry about damage or stolen goods. It just doesn’t happen in Japan.
As we sailed away from Kagoshima, many citizens showed up to wish us farewell. The Fire department band performed and played a number of very American tunes.
This gentleman walked up and down the pier waving flags of several countries and continually wished us a good and safe trip. Kay made the statement that it was sad to leave, and she didn’t even know any of these people! I felt the same way. The friendliness was very genuine.
We will be in Nagasaki tomorrow.