Mt. Aso on Kyushu

Back in 2008, we tried to get to the top of Mt. Aso, an active volcano on the southern island of Kyushu (Japan).  Due to heavy sulfur fumes, the top of the mountain was not accessible to the public.

Just this month, we were fortunate to visit Mt. Aso on a sunny morning.

On our way up, we stopped at this roadside stand selling blocks of sulfur.

Blocks of sulfur for sale on Mt. Aso

Notice the shade of green in the bubbling hot water.

Mt. Aso in Japan

This is one of my favorite pictures showing volcanic rock formations and a man-made rail.

Volcanic formations around Mt. Aso

Last, but not least. I have again become a fan of Japan’s unusual fusion food, strange concoctions, and unlikely flavorings, such as this one…. black sesame ice cream.

Black Sesame Ice Cream at Mt. Aso

Out of the unusual ice cream flavors I had sampled during this trip (Black Sesame, Wasabi and Corn), I liked the wasabi flavored one the best (more about that on my post about the Taio Gold Mine near Hita).

Nakatsue Village in the Mountains near Hita on Kyushu

One might wonder how we ended up in a small village high up in the mountains (600 m above sea level). Well, as a volunteer at the Kokusai Center in Kitakyushu, I came to know one of the city employees.

She is retired now and lives with her husband in a log cabin in Nakatsue. With her help, we secured a fairly inexpensive overnight deal in a Minpaku. Our charge was 3000 Yen per person (about 30 euro per person).

What is a Minpaku you might ask. Definition of Minpaku taken from Kyushu Educational Travel Net:

This Minpaku experience, which allows visitors to experience rural culture as typified by local cuisine, beautiful scenery and abundant nature, has been becoming popular. In Kagoshima Prefecture, a NPO organization coordinates more than 700 individual homes.

Staying in a minpaku is the cheapest form of accommodation, next is the Minshuku, topped by a Ryokan in convenience and comfort.

With our Minpaku arrangement, we had a whole log cabin to ourselves, it came without breakfast (instant coffee and tea were available), and it was just great!

Minpaku log cabin

For some reason, I did not take any photos on the inside. Our minpaku was fully equipped with heaters, flat screen TV, and all the amenities one could ask for.

Come warmly dressed though as these arrangements high up in the mountains can be rather cold even in April. The thermometer read – 1°C at 10 p.m.

Mountains of Hita, Oita-ken

On my next trip to Kyushu, I will book a Minpaku again.

Travelling Book in Fukuoka

Wouldn’t you like to read Melleron’s Monsters by Douglas Hill? If you do, you will find a free copy of the book at the Fukuoka Airport in Japan.

This is where I will release it into the wild.

Travelling books Japan

Travelling Book in Fukuoka

Once we arrive at Fukuoka Airport in Japan, I plan to release the following book The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams and John Underwood.

This book is about American baseball and I have no idea how it found its way into my little library in Germany. The Japanese like baseball, so it might be appreciated.

Travelling Books Japan

If you do find the book, let me know. Chances are 1 : 1.000.000, but that’s the fun part.

Notes from Germany

Last-minute preparations for the trip to Korea and Japan are keeping me very busy.

There is another batch of Kinder Überraschung Eier to be bought, and I have just asked the neighbor for more empty egg boxes for transporting them to Japan (via Korea).

Kinder Überraschung Schokoeier

Earlier this week, I had ordered some Swiss knives VICTORINOX Offiziersmesser, Hiker, rot  (priced at 15 euro a piece) via Amazon. de to hand out to our male Japanese friends.

Our suitcases are also filled with Haribo, The little German Cookbook (also from, Baumkuchen from the local supermarket (requested by a Japanese friend), and many other things.

Visiting Japan is a real schlepping trip as giving gifts is so customary, more so than in western countries.

So, we are soon off, so さよなら(sayonara).



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