6 Days In Kyushu

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6 Days In Kyushu

Post by Leahcim on Sat 22 Nov 2008, 19:08

A Recollection of the 6 days in Kyushu, Japan.

Michael's Photo Blog - Photos, Write ups, Information & Details about Kyushu.

From the 11th to the 16th of December, 2007.

*** Please seek permission first before using my photos. Thank you. ***

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Day 1 in Kyushu - Huis Ten Bosch

Post by Leahcim on Sat 22 Nov 2008, 19:12

Upon landing in Fukuoka Airport in the morning, we were hustled directly into a coach.
It took us 2 hours to arrive at the first location on our itinerary, Huis Ten Bosch.



Huis Ten Bosch is a Dutch city in Kyushu. Back in the 17th century, the Dutch, along with many western countries, arrived in Japan to do trade. When missionary activities began to increase, the Japanese government, fearing their culture was under threat, chased away the foreigners. However, only the Dutch and the Chinese were allowed to remain.

Even to date, the Dutch's residence has a huge impact on Japanese society.
Many words such as beer, coffee and glass have made their way into the Japanese Language.
Even the people around the vincinity of the settlement are Christians, an impact by earlier missionaries.



However, at the moment, there seem to be lesser westerners in the area.
Huis Ten Bosch is now but a shell of it's former glory.
Most of the buildings are closed, with only several converted into shops and restaurants for tourists.


Last edited by Leahcim on Sat 22 Nov 2008, 19:15; edited 1 time in total

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Day 1 of Kyushu

Post by Leahcim on Sat 22 Nov 2008, 19:13

The sun sets early in Japan, it was only around 7pm but the skies were dark already.
Not surprising, considering it was winter in the upper hemisphere.



With free time alloted in the evening, several members of the tour group wandered around.
And we thus visited the nearby Chinatown in Nagasaki, a very short street consisting of few shops and numerous restaurants.

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Day 2 in Kyushu - Glover Garden

Post by Leahcim on Sat 22 Nov 2008, 19:15

Day 2 in Nagasaki brought us up a hill that near our hotel. On the top of the hill, there is a tourist attraction, Glover Gardens.

Glover Gardens is a collection of old western houses that have survived since the second half of the 19th century. The term Glover Garden was in memory of Thomas Blake Glover, who came to Nagasaki in 1859 and contributed to the coal mining and ship building industry. He built the house on the hill in 1863. With the statue of Miura Tamaki standing in the park, the area is also known as "Madame Butterfly", in relation to the heroine in the play she was famed for acting.



Madame Butterfly is actually a play about a Japanese geisha who gave up everything to marry a foreign sailor. He married her, and shortly after, departed for America for three years. Still she kept her faith that he will return. The sad story ended when she took her life upon knowing he has married an American wife. The last scene showed him rushing into the house where she committed suicide in front of her child, of his.

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Day 2 in Kyushu - Peace Garden, Atomic Bomb Museum

Post by Leahcim on Sun 23 Nov 2008, 12:17

The next stop just before lunch was Peace Garden which commemorates the atomic explosion on 9 August 1945. The Statue of Peace stands in the middle with two shrines at the side. Children fold colourful cranes in large quantities then string them together before hanging at the side. On one of the bunches, a yellow card writes, A Prayer of Peace.



Even till today, visitors of such sites bring flowers.
Strewn beneath the statue, they constantly remind us of the product of war...

Suffering...



Located nearby is the Atomic Bomb Museum, which is divided into three sections and two storeys.

The first section is the prayer room, where more folded colour cranes reside.
Along the hall of translucent glass and acrylic, lie a towering box containing the names of all the people who died from the bomb.



The next section guide you through the sequence of events that happened that day.
The last section shows the untouched remnants of the building which is encased within the museum.
From there, one can see and touch several objects and items made deformed by the blast.
Also, the ruins of the church, with models of how it looked before the bomb were also displayed.

The second storey considered of video rooms that show nuclear tests recorded around the world.
All these items, along with the testimonials of the people affected by the blast, litter the museum.

Around the museum, the parks contain statues and displays as well as commemorative blocks made by Japanese artists. Focusing more on the suffering of their people as well as the importance of peace, the overcast skies and drizzling weather seem to make more of an impact when visiting during winter. It is to note that Japan, though the aggressors of World War II and causing much suffering in China & Singapore, can also feel the suffering when in defeat. It hit homes the point that in war, everyone loses.


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Day 2 in Kyushu - Peace Garden, Atomic Bomb Museum

Post by Leahcim on Sun 23 Nov 2008, 12:21

Super Logical & Power Saving

One of the things I love about Japan is the logic of its people, the convenience they provide.
For example, it is easy to walk down steps, but it's hard to walk up due to gravity.
Thus, they put one escalator to travel up, and save electricity by walking down.



Cool stuff. It's almost everywhere.


--------------------------------


As sun sets very fast during winter, we headed back to our hotel for dinner.
There was no shops or anything in this part of town, just a nice traditional hotel.



Unlike a normal room, there was no beds and just one flat floor for us to walk and sleep on. Yes indeed, tonight, we are sleeping on tatami mattresses. These things are heavy, but the hotel staff would lay it out for us while we are having dinner. Once the tatami was laid out and dinner was over, it was time to hit the hot springs.

Wait, did I say hot springs?

Yes indeed. It's an outdoor pool covered with pretty flowers and bushes to prevent people peeping in. With water flowing down, the sound of the water and the warmth of the water, both are sure to relax you. Warm indeed, it's a sizzling hot 38 degrees C that emits smoke on the surface of the water in such cold weather. Not to mention the red colour dyed by the wine that is added into the spring.


--------------------------------


Method of taking a dip in the Hot Springs

The Japanese are very particular to this certain procedure.
It is often done especially since the hot springs are clean water.

#1. Relieve yourself before going to the baths.
#2. Wear loosely and lightly, the yukata provided.
#3. Before entering the pool, clean yourself with soap and shampoo.
#4. Do not dip your towel as you enter the hot spring.
#5. Stay inside for approximately 4-5 minutes and get out once you start to sweat.
#6. Rest, cool down, before repeating the procedure #5 several times more.
#7. Once you are done, dry yourself with a towel and head out.
There is no need to shower again as the pool is "supposedly" to be clean.


-----------------------


Super Practical & Innovative

If there was another thing I love about the Japanese, that would be their innovation. Normally, after going to the toilet, one would have to wash their hands. Well, in Japan, the water used to top up the tank is clean and thus, logically, can be used to wash hands too!



I really love their seat warmers, it makes you want to just sit there forever, especially when the weather's cold. Furthermore, some of them come with odour remover and have lots of buttons you can play with. In some cases, one can have the option to select "Male" or "Female" standing/sitting position as well...



Kudos to them for practicality!

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Re: 6 Days In Kyushu

Post by Admin on Sun 23 Nov 2008, 13:10

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Day 3 in Kyushu

Post by Leahcim on Mon 24 Nov 2008, 18:01

Departing the Shimabara onsen hotel, we took a ferry to Kumamoto.
The ferry is not really large, but it is able to accomodate two coaches inside.
Leaving the vehicle, we proceeded up the stairs where a two-tier lounge awaits.



Proceeding up the stairs, one will find a bar serving you.
Drinks can be ordered and enjoyed by the side where comfy couches are.
The best are the window seats that allow you to look out to the sea.



Heading back to the rear of the vessel, the cold salty air hits you.
With winds howling, it doesn't take long for your fingers to freeze.
Keeping them into your pockets, you can see the mountains shrink out of view.



And after close to an hour's ride, we near Kumamoto's ports.
Seagulls and other birds sweep the area looking for fish, disturbed by the boat's wake.
As swarms of them fly around in a magnificent display, people hold out food to feed them.


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Day 3 in Kyushu - Kumamoto Castle

Post by Leahcim on Mon 24 Nov 2008, 18:01

After a short ride on the coach, we arrived at Kumamoto Castle. Kumamoto Castle's construction started when Lord Kato Kiyomasa moved into the province and decided to build a new castle to replace the old existing one. Taking approximately 6 years to built and completed in 1607, the two main towers stand at 6 and 4 storeys high.



When I visited the place, it was somewhat under construction and the top most floor was sealed off. However, majority of the insides have been converted into a museum displaying the names of the people living in the castle, as well as several items of history. Armour and artifacts of war used during that period were also displayed, along with a model of how the castle and its surroundings looked when it was first completed.



Directly outside the castle, an area thrice the size of a soccer field lies Ni-no-Maru Park, where kindergarden children are brought to during excursions. On the day itself, there was a group of 5-year-old kids having a picnic in the area. Taking off their shoes and wearing as little as possible, they settled down beneath a tree and started to have their lunch. Take a look at the lunch box, pretty huh?


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Day 3 in Kyushu - Suizenji Jojuen

Post by Leahcim on Mon 24 Nov 2008, 18:03

The next stop on the list was Suizenji Jojuen (Garden of Elegance), a landscape garden completed in 1671. The garden reproduces in minature form, what one will see when travelling along the Tokaido, an old major road, that connected Kyoto to Edo (present day Tokyo). Totalling 15 acres in size, the park consists of several beautifully sculpted lakes of carps and birds as well as hills, including one made to look like Mt. Fuji.



However, the origins of the garden started when Tadatoshi Hosokawa, the administrator of Kumamoto, built the Buddhist temple Suizenji in 1632.

Currently, the temple is run by several shrine maidens in their traditional dresses.
These chubby :-\ mikos oversee the maintenance of the shrine by carrying wood for burning, as well as sweeping the floor.
One of them attends to a shop next to the temple, selling talismans and accessories of blessings.



It is normally a tradition to drink the water of the nearby pool for good health.
Then, head up to the shrine and toss some cash into the offerings box.
Clapping your hands three times, close your eyes and pray.
Your prayers will often come true...



Many tourists and Japanese travellers often come to visit this historical site.
They purchase some wooden panels and hang it on a board next to the offering box.
Written on them are the hope and dreams, wishes and fantasies of each individual...



Lunch was a Japanese steamboat, also termed as shabu shabu.

Shabu-shabu (Japanese: しゃぶしゃぶ), also spelled syabu-syabu, is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces. However, it is starkly different in taste; shabu-shabu is more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki. It is considered a winter dish but is eaten year-round. WIKI



And after lunch, we did a little bit of grocery shopping.
The Fuji apples sold in Japan are large, juicy and sweet.


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What I like about Japan

Post by Leahcim on Wed 26 Nov 2008, 20:04

What I like about Japan

#1) I love their technology.
Paper toilet bowls? Waterless toilet bowls? Advanced handphones? PlayStation 3?
You name it, they have it. It's gadgets galore in Japan.



.

#2) I love their traffic system.
A complex maze for their train stations. One exit in Tokyo is said to have 60 over exits.
Not to mention the electronic trams and their roads. The drivers are mostly polite and courteous.
Even their traffic lights have indication of time to wait before the green or red man appears.



.

#3) Their Cleanliness & Hygiene

Japanese people are very particular about etiquette and hygiene. During my trip to Japan, I have found all to be sparkling clean, except for one that is located high high on Mount Aso. In shops, in restaurants, at bus interchanges as well as in hotels, the bathrooms are kept dry and clean, right down to the edges and corners. Care for the environment remains one of the top of their interests' list. They love to find innovations to reduce and reuse their products. Most ride bicycles and travel on kick scooters.



Despite having a large majority of the population being smokers, one will rarely see cigarette butts tossed onto the floor. People will most likely keep the butts with them until their reach a bin to throw it away. Even on televisions, one can find advertisements selling nothing but fashionable metallic casings to store their used cigarette butts. Also, water is clean and safe. The Japanese Government takes water issues very seriously. If a shop or company is found to pollute water or to provide water unsafe for drinking, it is shut down immediately and is expected to hit bankruptcy due to lawsuits.

.

#4) Pretty Japanese

Japanese Idol Books. Ok, I admit I was tempted to get them. However, the fact is I bought none. Some of them were as cheap as $5 SGD. Hehehe... If you are a registered member of CanonGraphers, you'd have seen several posts of mine under the thread, Japanese Idol Books. They consist of photos taken of Japanese idols, some of them well taken, some of them more for street shoots, yet all of them gets sold pretty quick when they hit the shelves.

I did pick up one to flip through and it showed the methods and processes that the photogrpher does from the initially arriving on scene, setting up of lights and shooting, to the editing and printing and distributing of such materials. Pretty interesting read for the casual photographer.



And for those who watch too much Japanese TV dramas or Japanese animation or Japanese idol books, here's a tip for you: Don't get the wrong impression! Not everyone over there look as pretty or as sizzling hot! Your school girl fetish will take a nosedive once you see the real thing. However, most of them know how to dress, most of them know how to put on make up and most of them age with grace. So keep an open mind and enjoy the view.

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Day 4 in Kyushu - Mount Aso

Post by Leahcim on Wed 26 Nov 2008, 20:05

Day 4

Day 4 has arrived and we are finally heading to the coldest place we will cover throughout the tour.
Setting off early in the morning, it was about two hours drive before we even neared the place.
Then it begins close to an hour's drive in a zig-zag pattern to our destination, Mount Aso.

Mount Aso is largest active volcano in Japan, consisting of 5 peaks, the highest point is Mt. Taka at 1592 metres.
The day that we arrived, it was 4 degrees in the negative, even the drizzle led to frozen bits of rain.
Proceeding up the mount via a cable car, we approached the crater spewing forth sulphur dioxide...



After lunch at the base station of Mt. Aso, we departed the Kumamoto area for a 3 hour ride to Beppu.



Beppu, located in the central region of Oita, is a city of hot springs. Famous as a hot springs resort, Beppu has close to 3000 hot springs of various sources and varieties, resulting in one of the highest water output in the world. Termed as "hells" in Japan, due to the holes in the ground with hot water and steam coming out of them, these hot springs result in many onsen hotels springing up by their sides.

Not all of them are hot springs for bathing, in particular, Chinoike Jigoku (Bloodly Hell Pool in my direct translation :p) is most famous for viewing. The waters are red due to the large volumes of hematite (Iron Oxide Fe2O3) deposited inside. It's 150C so if you wish to soak inside it instead of just viewing it, be my guest!


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Day 5 in Kyushu - Hello Kitty World

Post by Leahcim on Thu 27 Nov 2008, 23:13

Day 5

Awaking early on Day 5, I proceeded to the baths at Yufuin Sky Hotel for a dip in their open air hot springs. One of the things I love about it is the natural feeling you get when birds chirp and leaves fall into the water. Also, since the water is extremly hot, the cold air helps to reduce the surface temperature by cooling it down, leaving you relaxing in a bearable state.



Once I had soaked my fill and had breakfast, it was now time for a boring drive to Hello Kitty World...



The creators of Hello Kitty World have made it on the guise of Hello Kitty's birthday. Apart from the normal stuff such as a cinema, a museum, shops and kiddy rides, they also have a train track going around the place, as well as a water boat ride, a roller coaster and even a ferris wheel...



At noon every day, a parade of sorts will be carried out on the main square. People will come out in colourful costumes and dance on the streets. Others will dress like cowgirls and cycle around the place, not to mention the ones in stuffed suits on mobile platforms waving to the crowd. Lots of music, lots of bubbles blown about, the show ends within an hour.


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Day 5 in Kyushu

Post by Leahcim on Thu 27 Nov 2008, 23:13

On arrival back to Fukuoka, since it was our last day for activities, the tour guide brought us to Hawks Town, containing a Futsal stadium, a huge sheltered carpark and a shopping mall similar to the size of Bugis Junction, with just three floors through a wide spread of clothes and fashion shops.



Day 5 ended with a massive shopping district in the town central of Fukuoka. After scouring through Canal City and the shopping malls near the train station, I noticed a huge rack of headphones and decided to head over to take a look.



It is amazing in Japan. Although there are numerous paths and doors where one can end up being lost, the instructions and directions that one can rely on. Unfortunately, most of them are still written in Japanese. Only a select few can be found in english or chinese...


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Day 6 in Kyushu

Post by Leahcim on Thu 04 Dec 2008, 09:43

Day 6 begins...

As soon as we woke up, had our breakfast and shower, it was time to head to the airport...

After more than an hour of intensive security checks, we finally arrived at the main departure hall with less than half an hour before our flight departs for Singapore. A little last minute visitation to the handful of shops in the main spine. Looking through the glass one can see the runway as well as planes departing and arriving every once in a while. The skies are wonderful and clear, it looks like a good trip back home...



And...

After a long 5 1/2 hour trip, we finally arrived back in SG.

Home sweet home...



~ FIN ~

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Interesting Things About Japan

Post by Leahcim on Thu 04 Dec 2008, 09:46

More Interesting Things About Japan

What I Like About Japan - Part II

#1: The parking lots. They are very simple ways of ensuring people pay for the exact time of usage.


#2: The bicycle lots. Stackable and without locks. A camera overlooks security.


#3: The mobile phones. Each telcom provider offers their own range of phones to choose.
The only exception being Sony Ericsson to be sold across all 3 major phone companies.


#4: The petrol pump. Dangling in mid air until you drive in. It's easier to use than fixed pumps.

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Looking Back, The Aftermath

Post by Leahcim on Thu 04 Dec 2008, 09:47

Looking Back; The Aftermath

This trip to Japan has shed some light in my understanding of Japan.

#1: It is a male-dominant society. Women are expected to be housewives and servants while the men go to work and earn their paychecks. For those office women, it is normal to go in to work earlier than the men to do spring cleaning of the office. They tidy up the place and prepare green tea an hour or two in advance. Even though the tour guide says so, I only believed him when I looked out of my hotel room's window to see the office block next door...

#2: Most of their income comes from selling electronic products and such, tourism and services play a very very small role. That being said, for tourists, it's a take it or leave it price, and there is no pressure for you to buy anything.

#3: Politeness is everywhere. Even so, their attitude and service is top notch. When entering or leaving a shop, they will always thank you and ask you to come again. Even when departing from a hotel, the ground staff will stand outside and wave goodbye, all the way until your bus disappears from view.

#4: With doors unlocked and bicycles unchained, it seems as though Japan is one of the safest place to be. Even in shops as huge as half a soccer field, not much security is there with only a handful of staff, no cameras or electronic tagging.

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Credits

Post by Leahcim on Thu 04 Dec 2008, 09:48

This is a photo-blog of my Japan trip to Kyushu from 11th Dec to 16th Dec 2007.
It contains narrative description and photos of the few attractions I visited during my short stay there.
Not to mention some interesting things I noticed and discovered.
Links to such sites are located at their individual posts, highlighted in blue.
Images to several brochures can be found on the last PB entry.

Originally posted in CanonGraphers then in LightNPixels.
Kind regards goes to +evenstar for his Canon 17-40F4L and CPL.
Kind regards goes to deadpoet for his Canon 50F1.4.
Mostly shot on them with the Canon 5D and Canon 30QD + Fuji 200.
Some taken with Nokia E61i and Panasonic Lumix LX-1.

Feel free to post your questions, queries and comments.
Also, if there are critiques and suggestions, I pray thee tell!

Thank you for viewing!


----------

All shots are located here:

Day 1 & 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5 & 6


----------

References

Here are some references to the places I have been to.

Huis Ten Bosch: here
Glover Garden: here
Nagasaki Peace Memorial Hall: here
Atomic Bomb Memorial: here
Shimabara Kanko Hotel: here
Kumamoto Castle: here
Suizenji Ticket: here
Chinoike Jigoku: here
Hello Kitty Harmony Land: here
Yufuin Sky Hotel: here

Credits to several Japanese Tourism websites and Wikipedia for information.


~ FIN ~

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