Saturday, 13 October 2012

Miyazaki Adventures

We took a spontaneous trip last weekend. We can do that now that we have a car. Having a car is seriously awesome. We headed to Miyazaki prefecture for a one night and visited the Takachiho gorge and the near-by cave at Amano-Iwato shirine that features in Japan’s foundational mythology.
Preparing nice and early for that up-coming right hand turn! Oh, and yes, that is Vader's TIE bomber displayed... it also speaks in his (officially licensed) voice. He gets very grumpy when you deviate from the dark side.
Driving pretty much anywhere in Kyushu results in gorgeous scenery
Especially when the rice is ripe for harvest and the sunlight is golden
Takachiho is stunning. The rock formation is caused by layers of lava from a volcanic eruption, and the water is clear up close but brilliant blue from a distance.
Obligatory tourist shot of row boats in Takachiho Gorge
Clear, sparkling water in a shallower section
Takachiho from above
At the gorge we got caught in a tourist trap and ripped off 500 yen; not a huge amount of money but a bit of a shock to experience. We drove to the gorge on the Saturday of a long weekend, and it was packed with cars and tour coaches. There were uniformed traffic guides at all the turns, separating small from large vehicles and directing them to different car parks. As we came into the clearly marked entrance to the car park we had been directed to a man in a visibility vest holding a traffic directing baton leapt in front of the car and directed us to turn left. We followed his instructions and pulled into a small private car park, upon which he charged us 500 yen. It was so sudden that we paid up and only realised as walked away from the car that the car park we had been heading into was free, and the man’s “uniform” was purchased from a hardware store. I was pretty angry about it, but my more forgiving husband forbade me from making a scene. Spoil sport.
Nagashi somen near the gorge: usually this is a special summer thing but for some reason it is offered all year round at the gorge. You try to catch chilled noodles with your chop sticks are they flow down the halved bamboo.
If that isn't to your taste, try dango (grilled sticky rice balls) are fish so fresh that their friends are still in the tank nearby looking for them :(
We opted for delicious hot tea from a bamboo pot

Takachiho Shrine: 600 year old cedar trees surround the shrine
I have never seen one of these with babies before~ I would love to know the significance (if any)
While the gorge was beautiful, the real highlight was Amano-Iwato. It was less touristy, wilder, and held a sense of real power and emotion even for a cynical atheist like me.

Looked a lot like Tasmania, actually.
The stones are piled by pilgrims

As I said, the trip was unplanned so we hadn’t booked any accommodation. That isn’t an issue in Japan, since there are always rooms available in love hotels and car parking is included free of charge. I used the handy love hotel finder website on my phone and found one nearby that would allow is to take a room from 8pm (overnight stays are usually only permitted after 11pm, any earlier and you pay an per hour rate not a fixed fee). We’ve visited a number of love hotels (that’s a whole other blog post), but this one was by far my favourite.
View from our love hotel jacuzzi
Our “room” was a newly-built free-standing two story unit that was three times bigger than the entire apartment I rented in Nagoya. From 8 pm to 11 am was 6000 yen, about $60, and the “room” was equipped with: a theatre room with massage chairs, a huge projection screen and karaoke, a spa overlooking the beach, a microwave, ice box and kettle, a king sized bed, brand name amenities (Dove body lotion etc) and a pokie machine. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Nobeoka I recommend Uno Hamayu. I took a cider from the fridge so when we left the next morning a staff member dropped by so I could pay for it. She was wearing the kind of apron that kindergarten teachers or child care workers wear, and I wonder if she goes straight to work at a nearby pre-school after finishing her love hotel shift.
Parking is not only free, but also discreet
Theatre room with karaoke and massage chairs
Second TV in the bedroom, also with karaoke, and a gambling machine

AND just in case there weren't enough TVs, the bath also had one
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  1. Kyushu is super pretty, eh? Although I've not yet been to Miyazaki! I'm hoping on taking a trip down the island sometime soon.

    Love hotels are also boss! So cheap, so huge! With so much karaoke! Although that theatre room doesn't look like its equipped for snuggles. :(

    1. I've never been further south into Miyazaki than this, but I'd love to go all the way down the coast some time.


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