Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima: Ohara Festival under the Sakurajima volcano

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima Highlights: -Back on the saddle -Sakurajima Voclano -Ohara Festival -The dark night

After spending nearly two to three weeks in Okinawan Islands, I was back to Kyushu alone, and back on the saddle. It was tough to not have Seungjin as my riding partner anymore but it that’s life.

Sakurajima Volcano was a symbol of nature’s power. Just the amount of ashes it spewed out on a daily basis and just covered this city with it and was the only downside of this place.

I was really fortunate to be in time for the festival, I did wait a day or two extra to catch it and it was well worth it. 16000 people on the streets dancing wearing traditional clothing, the Japanese passionately took pride in their traditions and really knew how to hold a festival.

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

The real highlight about Kagoshima was the personal one. Looking for a camp site, I thought I go up the small mountain nearby and become stealth. However, in the pouring rain, I would have to drag my bike up the dirt path that had these steps all along the hill, and I couldn’t just roll it up these high steps, I had to lift the front part of the bike on every step and was very tiring and demoralizing not knowing when I was going to reach the top in complete darkness. Darkness, rain, fatigue, the unknown path, hunger, all can have major effect on the morale. And one more, when the path seems illegitimate, just turn back while you have the chance.

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The Mahi Mahi, this reminded of the old man who caught one using just fishing the fishing line.  It’s from the cliffs of Maeda point in Okinawa.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The seafood port in Kagoshima. Fishes of all kinds were iced and boxed up here for distribution. Fortunately I didn’t find any marine animals that shouldn’t belong there.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
After taking a short ferry ride to the Sakurajima Volcano, I took a break at the Nagisa Foot Bath Park.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Cats living under the volcano, who knows what these guys were eating for survival. Even living under these ashy conditions and isolated from humans and other animals, they looked like they ate like kings and had been groomed by someone an hour ago.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Sakurajima All Night Concert Monument

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
How could you not camp out under the Sakurajima Volcano? This little park was covered with a thick layer of grey volcanic ashes. However, the park was quiet and peaceful.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The volcano erupted every morning without a doubt. Being one of the most active volcanoes, and emitting who knows how much ashes into Kagoshima prefecture, the whole city was covered in ashes and was bothersome when riding without a face mask. But, nobody eles seemed to be wearing a mask except me.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
He looked like he would take out a samurai sword and cut you up into little pieces if you ever tried to mess with him, but I’m sure he is all about compassion and love. I did donate some yens for taking this photo. He gave me a short glance and a nod in appreciation.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
This temple was a getaway spot while it rained outside.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The 62nd Ohara Festival: the largest dancing festival at Kagoshima. Luck was on my side when it came to being in a city when festivals were being held. With 16000 people dancing in the streets, it was a sight. These young drumming group was drawing all the attention and put on the best performance.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The Taiko Drum team, played the 007 music, there were also kids in this group that were well under ten years old, and had some amazing skills.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
This photo captures the beauty of the night view from top of a mountain in Kagoshima on a beautiful clear night. What the photo doesn’t capture is that before this photos was snapped, I had to walk up my bike in the pouring rain in a steep off road dirt path that had these gigantic steps that were up to a foot all the way up to the top, and in complete darkness and soaked in rain, hating my life as I walked up not knowing when I was going to reach the top. It was the worst experience in Japan.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
After the rain comes the light, and I would find a park on top of the mountain that I could have rode up on the other side of the mountain. I camped in front of a closed shop under the canopy to escape from the rain and this night, people walked back and forth in front of tent. And this cat that was a reincarnation of my old cat, Yeno, hung out next to me and I gave him some tuna to help him get even fatter.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Maruichi restaurant in Kagoshima. The chef here is very well known for making some of the best tonkatsu known to humanity. For around ten dollars for a lunch plate, this spot is a must go to when visiting Kagoshima prefecture. Oishii desu ne!!!!

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Mekkenmon, a famous conveyor belt sushi restaurant. This dish is a whole mackerel that you eat, and then they fry the rest for you, and can finish the rest.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
The dishes are in different colors which indicate the price of the sushi on the plate. While I was carefully choosing my choice of fish, a semi drunk man with his wife next to me, spoke to me and he bought me a dish and gave me some of his rice wine. He was a business man working for Mitsubishi. One thing I can remember him telling me was, “what are you doing, go home.” In back of my mind I’m saying, “no, you should take your drunk ass home and go to sleep.” I don’t need any discouraging words while I have another 800 km ahead of me.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Given that this restaurant barely had any empty seats, I can conclude that radiation isn’t on their mind when choosing a restaurant. Another interesting thing was that I met a sushi chef here that was from San Francisco. He had lived in Japan for the past seven years and was married man.

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
A performance seen in front of the Kagoshima station.

 

Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
Bike Tour Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima
This is a guest blog post by Dae Choi
Thursday October 31, 2013

2013/10/28-31: Ishigaki to Naha to Kagoshima: Ohara Festival uinder the Sakurajima volcano

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