Day 1 : Travelled from Takasaki to Kumamoto (via Tokyo and Fukuoka) by train. That, in case you were wondering, is a long long way. Saw a lot of cool scenery, its pretty amazing how the weather patterns shift rapidly as you shoot down the spine of the country ; snow storms, tropical sunshine, mountains, desert and sea. Hit Kumamoto hard, went to Kumamoto-jo (castle) and a couple of shrines way up in the hills. By the time sun set i checked into my hotel and hit a few Japanese bars, made a few new friends and went to a Onsen (hot springs) around 10pm.
Day 2 : Got up damn early to hit the bus station, only to find that the bus which i wanted had already left and there wouldnt be another one for about a hour and thirty. Wandered around traditional water garden for a bit, headed back with 25 minutes to spare to find a group of Japanese people waiting for me, one of them took me to get my cheap deal ticket while the others waited to hold the bus in case it went without me, one old dear had even bought me some Onigiri (rice cakes) for the journey. Addresses were exchanged and they all (about 6 of them) saw me off onto the bus with much handshaking and waving.
Got to Reigan-do, way up in a rural mountainous area of Kyushu, walked about 2Km up a hill and eventually found the shrine secluded in a forest park. Payed my 200 yen and headed in, looked at a few of the exhibits, including the origional piece of Oar that Miyamoto Musashi used to fight his opponent Sasaki Kojiro on Ganryu-jima. Met a nice Japanese family also touring the shrine and the 500 statues of the Buddha on the surrounding hills. We walked together as the family happily translated all of the Kanji and Katakana for me, and i happily helped them with their Japanese history (they didnt really know who Musashi was). Headed out when i met a random cab driver coming in who, long story short, offered to give me a lift back to Kumamoto city for 1000 yen (5 quid), i happily agreed (having checked how much it would normally cost during the day - 7000 yen/35 quid).
Together Taxi driver, me and the couple who were also with the taxi driver wandered around the shrine (again) and then headed out into the hills again (after the Taxi driver got out of the car, ran into a nearby field and stole some oranges for us all). Halfway there the couple asked if i was hungry, i said yes and so the Taxi driver took us to a tiny little shop up in the hills which proceeded to serve the most fantastic farm house noodle...thing i have ever tried. Once finished the couple insisted in paying for my food and we headed back into Kumamoto city, not before detouring twice to an old preserved Daimyo lodging and Kumamoto-jo (again). I bid them farewell at the train station and headed off to Aso mountain.
Long story short, i got to Aso mountain (a series of volcanos) and it looked damn impressive but unfortunately it was too dangerous to take a trip up to the basin today so i turned around and headed back into Kumamoto.
One long train trip later i found myself in Fukuoka wandering through the red light district where much entertainment was to be had in watching salerymen puking over each other and people pissing in the streets, god i love civilisation!
Day 3 : Thats today, been to a couple of Shrines, Picking up Tanya at 1.30 and heading to Ganryujima (the place where Musashi and Kojiro fought). After that will be doing some wandering and overnight bus to Hiroshima.
....okay...not particulaly short....so sue me....no wait...dont...i dont have any money..
Happy Xmas and New Year everyone, if all goes to plan i should be Chilling in Kyoto for New Years night.