By now you might got the impression that my journey through Japan only consisted of food and shopping so let me get things straight with an ode to campground living and hot springs!
Going to Kyushu was probably the best decision because I had never seen anything like it before. We got there with the ferry which took us twelve hours from Osaka and since the ferry goes only by night we weren’t even able to look outside and see the coast lines of Honshu and Shikoku. Twelve hours later after a night on the floor with a two centimeters futon (~ 0.8 inches) and in a room with twenty people we arrived safe and sound but dead tired in Kitakyushu, the most northern area of Kyushu.
The first thing we did, was going to the tourist info stand in the train station but the ladies there were all bewildered by our question for camping places and told us that there were only very few camp grounds on Kyushu and especially not in this area and season of the year. I remember getting kind of angry at them because they were really unhelpful and I hadn’t slept (enough) that night.
So as usual we didn’t know where we would spend the night but thought that with a car, everything would look better. Getting a car wasn’t easy. First of all you need a translation for your licence and clever as we are, we did that just when we arrived in Tokyo at the beginning of our stay. Then the car rental will ask you tons of questions that we didn’t completely understand but after several attempts he finally understood that we wanted the cheapest car for the longest timespan available. Since there was some kind of holiday going on that day, it wasn’t easy to find one but he really did his best and we were able to get a car for ten days.
We spent three nights on this scenic camp site amidst volcanic cones and mesmerizing trees and after the first night I was scared to death. Around 1am I woke up hearing the strangest and most terrifying noises as if animals were tearing each others apart. As if that wasn’t enough the sound got interrupted by hysterical screaming of people. My body was all tense and I was trying to perceive whether the noise was coming closer or not but there were short breaks in between the episodes so it was difficult to tell.
Anyway, my bf had obviously heard it too and now we were both sitting there in our sleeping bags and didn’t know what to do. Eventually the voices of people coming closer with occasional giggling of girls convinced me, that is must have been a group of teenagers lurking around in the woods.
I looked outside the tent and saw them going into the building where the toilets are but was still way too afraid to go outside. Some time later they were gone but a car arrived and stopped in front of that building. I plucked up all my courage and went out, determined to confront them with what happened but it was only two women who were camping and they told me that they too had heard the screaming and were scared to death.
The next day I told Silvan that I had never been as afraid as last night and that I had clearly seen a parade of nocturnal demons in front of my eyes. No, I don’t believe in ghosts and I’m one of the people who thinks that there’s a logical explanation for everything so I was really surprised to hear the same from him. Just hearing the noise without seeing its origin made me imagine the weirdest and most grotesque sceneries of demons and monsters I had seen in Japanese art and movies. A terrifying yet unique experience I will never forget.
Besides that episode I enjoyed staying in a tent a lot. The mornings were freezing and there weren’t any showers because guests could easily go bathing in one of the countless hot springs of Beppu. Except for the women we saw on the first night and two bikers, there was nobody else on the camp ground but during the day there were kids and older people enjoying the lake with pedaloes and eating ice cream.
Dangojiru Teishoku (団子汁定食)
The camping site wasn’t located in Beppu and there weren’t any supermarkets or restaurants where we stayed. We were lucky to have a small shop selling different noodles and sets with delicious broth, fish and pickles nearby.
I’ll leave you with this pic of the fuming grounds and constructions as a prelude for the next entry about Kyushu.
With Maetel (メーテル) and the conductor (車掌) of Galaxy Express 999
Ten days were quite short to travel around Kyushu but with the car I got to see random places I wouldn’t have seen by train and we managed to go round the whole island. Especially after the city life in Osaka it was nice to be surrounded by nature again.
I hope you enjoyed the autumnal colors and have a great sunday everyone!