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Yamabiko ryokan

2nd stay in Kurakawa onsen.

Picked this onsen ryokan for its famous and huge Senin rotenburo (onsen for fairies).  Kashikiri onsen (private use) is free though on a first-come-first-served basis.

 

 

Kaiseki dinner course. Service was less impressive.

 

 

 

JP 2019 May Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

Visited this public park for roses in a peninsula opposite to the bay from central Fukuoka.

It was quite a hot day close to 30C when we arrived at the train station, after 40 min by JR commuter train from Hakata with 1 change.

It took about 20 min on foot to reach one of the entrances to the huge park, and another 20 min to reach the rose gardens.

 

Spring flowers composing a colourful palette

 

As it was pretty hot, we stayed for about an hour+ and returned to Hakata.

 

It rained on the next day and thus it was cooler when we visited the Fukuoka Art Museum. Apart from the permanent exhibitions, there was a special exhibition – Flower Power by Yinka Shonibare CBE.

Photography is allowed in the public areas.

 

On the next day, we left Fukuoka and headed home with fond memories of Kyushu in Spring.

 

~~~~~~~~       T  H  E          E  N  D       ~~~~~~~~~

 

 

JP 2019 May Fukuoka

Stayed in Hakata for the final 3 nights in Fukuoka.

Visited Tocho-ji, Shofuku-ji and Joten-ji which are within 10 min on foot from our hotel.

Tocho-ji (東長寺)

Tochoji temple was founded in 806 by Kobo-daishi Kukai and it is the oldest temple of the Shingon sect in Japan that Kobo-daishi set up, after his return from China during the Tang Dynasty.

The Fukuoka Daibutsu is a wooden Buddha completed in 1993. It is inside a building on the 2F. Photography is not permitted. Except for the Daibutsu there is no entrance fee.

 

Shofuku-ji (聖福寺)

In less than 5 min, we arrived at the Shofuku-ji which is tucked inside a narrow street. It was serene with a few visitors.

It was founded in 1195 by the Zen master Yosai, who introduced Zen Buddhism and tea cultivation from China into Japan.

 

 

Joten-ji (承天寺)

As it was still early for lunch, we strolled around and bumped into this temple which happened to be the birthplace of Udon, Soba noodles and Manju buns in Japan. According to the monument, the recipes and the skill of milling were brought back by Shoichi Kokushi when he returned from China (during Sung dynasty) in 1241.

This temple was built in 1242. It is also located where the famous Gion Yamakasa Festival originated.

 

 

After a brief lunch, we headed to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park by JR commuter train.

 

===>  Uminonakamichi Seaside Park  ===>

 

 

JP 2019 May Yufuin

Our 4th visit and 3rd stay in this onsen town – one of our fav in Kyushu 🙂

Strolled along the main street, dropped by Kinrin-ko again. It was beautiful with new lush green though quite crowded with group tourists. Had a coffee break in Snoopy Cafe before heading to onsen resort.

 

 

Stay  –>  Yufuin Hanayoshi

 

Visited a private art museum/library after checking out on the next day. It was attached to another luxurious onsen resort containing the collections from its owner. To our surprise, on the 2nd floor there was a small room with live radio broadcast !

 

Had a coffee before crossing Mt Yufu into Beppu where we’d stay for another 2 nights.

 

===>    Beppu   ====>

 

 

JP 2019 May Beppu

Our 4th stay in this onsen city with about 8 different onsen areas.

2nd stay in huge onsen hotel/resort in Kankaiji onsen. Selected a spacious room with distant seaview. Had onsen in its huge sea-facing rotenburo. Stayed in this hotel again (since 2008) to try its Italian dinner whose main chef was from Ginza. Super-delicious course with seafood and local beef, apart from great service.

 

Usuki Seki-butsu

As we had visited the Jigokus’ in Beppu in previous trips, drove to Usuki for its Seki-butsu (Stone Buddhas) sculpted into cliffs. The Stone Buddhas are grouped in four separate clusters. Took less than 1 hour to complete an easy trail which covers them.

 

 

Mt Tsurumi

Back to Beppu and headed up to Mt Tsurumi by ropeway. From the top station, we took a short hike of 20 min and reached the summit @1375m. Caught sight of some early blooming Miyama-Kirishima, apart from panoramic views of the Bay of Beppu stretching all the way to Oita to the south – as in the featured photo.

 

 

After descending from the ropeway, had a coffee  before checking into another onsen hotel close to the JR Beppu station. The rotenburo was huge – akin to a swimming pool. Had a nice fusion dinner with free flow of alcohol – wine/sake/whisky.

 

 

After checking out on next morning, took JR Sonic express train to Hakata direct in 2 hours.

 

===>   Fukuoka   ====>

 

 

JP 2019 May Kurokawa onsen

Stay –> Yamabiko onsen ryokan

 

It was our 2nd stay in Kurokawa onsen, whose ryokans are scattered on either side of a gorge with a stream flowing in between.  Paths are narrow and only one-way traffic is allowed inside the onsen town.  We had a stroll after breakfast in the much quieter town when most tourists had left.

 

 

Kuju Kogen

Leaving Kuju Kogen and heading north, dropped by Chojabara visitor centre. Both offer plenty of hiking trails in Mt Kuju mountain range.

 

 

 

Kokonoe “Ume” bridge (九重“夢”大吊橋)

It is slightly under 400m long crossing a wide gorge. 2 waterfalls called Shidono-taki (trembling waterfalls) – 1 female and 1 male could be viewed while crossing it.

The observatory uphill from the northern end of the bridge offers  panoramic views of the gorge as shown in the featured photo.

As we were heading to Yufuin for lunch, we did not drop by the shops and eateries in the parking lot.

 

====>   Yufuin   ====>

 

 

JP 2019 May Kuju Kogen

Before leaving Mt Aso after staying for 2 nights, visited Sensuikyo for Miyama-Kirishima (mountain azalea).

 

Sensuikyo (仙酔峡)

Luckily, the road leading up to Sensuikyo has re-opened from April (after being closed since the last earthquake in 2016).  The pink Miyama-Kirishima was almost in full bloom on the slopes. We left less than an hour later, when more cars were waiting to be allowed into the parking lot.

 

Kuju Flower Park

Arrived at the flower park around noon. Had casual lunch then visited various colourful flower fields.  There were live music performances close to the entrance on that Sunday which attracted many visitors.

The park was huge and we spent roughly 2 hours there. By the time we left rain clouds started rolling in. Though it was quite crowded (as expected), the park was beautiful with spring flowers and the Kuju mountain range as backdrop.

 

Last glimpses of Mt Aso before heading to Kurokawa onsen

 

 

 

===>   Kurokawa onsen  ====>

 

 

JP 2019 May Mt Aso

Visited Mt Aso in mid-May for new lush green in Kusasenri, along the rim of the giant ancient caldera, and Azaleas. Stayed in onsen hotel for 2 nights (Aso Uchinomaki onsen), fairly close to sightseeing spots in Aso by car.

Though the volcanic level has been raised to level 2 since April, the road up to the Mt Aso ropeway station was open, though ropeway and road further uphill to the crater were closed.

The white fumes rising from Nakadake (Central summit) was quite mild, compared to the black smoke and volcanic ash in Sakurajima (Kagoshima) when we visited in March 2018.

 

 

Komezuka, Nekodake and lush green scenery from observatory decks along the northwestern rim of the ancient caldera along Milk Road.

 

 

Azaleas in full bloom in Mount of Longevity garden (長寿ヶ丘公苑のつつじ)

 

===>   Kuju Kogen   ====>

 

JP 2019 May Takachiho

After staying in Kumamoto for 2 nights, picked up rental car and headed eastward to Takachiho (in Miyasaki Prefecture).

Dropped by Goroga-taki (height of 50m) and Tsujunkyo (bridge) along the way. As the latter was under repair no access was allowed. Otherwise, water would have been spilling from the centre of the bridge. Nevertheless, the water reflections and new lush green was beautiful.

OTOH, the Goroga-taki (waterfall) was a surprise. While we were looking for ways to get close to the Tsujunkyo where the normal access was blocked,  water was gushing loudly from the parking area.  Followed signs and steps downhill and reached a suspension bridge where this waterfall could be viewed unblocked.

 

 

 

Takachiho (高千穂)

After lunch in nearby road station, parked car at the base of the gorge after some tight elbow turns with sharp drops. Followed a trail along the narrow gorge for about 1 km.  (boat rowing was closed on the day we visited).

The gorge was formed by a river cutting through sheer cliffs, which was  formed from volcanic rocks slowly solidifying while flowing into twisted columns and pillars.

The Manai-no-taki (真名井の滝) splashing into the river against a backdrop of lush green and turquoise water reflections was captivating.

Along the trail, there were points where the river was cutting deep and large potholes at the base of the cliffs. As the trail was  meandering uphill, we caught sight of 3 bridges crossing the gorge at different elevations.  We turned back when we reached the road junction from where we had earlier driven across.  The entire walk took about 1 hour and was fairly easy. 

 

Takachiho Jinja (高千穂神社)

Before heading to our onsen hotel in Mt Aso, we dropped by this Jinja at the entrance to the gorge.

The Jinja was surrounded by tall and old Japanese-Sugi (Cedar) trees. One of them was 800 years old and a “husband-and-wife Sugi” where its bases have merged together.

On the side of the Jinja there was a Yokagura hall where a show is  performed every night.

 

===>   Mt  Aso  ====>