Hotel Chikurakutei is a hot spring resort located in the town of Minamiaso. The hotel features many cottages each having a small private garden and outdoor hot bath. Various sections of the hotel are linked together by covered outdoor walkways surrounded by trees and flowers. The hotel also features a large main public Onsen with indoor and outdoor baths. The restaurant serves delicious food and the personnel of the hotel offered us a very warm welcome. I highly recommend this hotel.
South Aso (Minamiaso) is one of the prettiest place I’ve seen in Japan, but also happened to be the scene of one of the most terrifying events of my life.
Minamiaso is located to the south of mount Aso, an active volcano. The mountain is surrounded by fertile land due to previous eruptions of mount Aso, which made it particularly suitable for agriculture. The landscape is simply superb with fields and deep rivers surrounding mount Aso (the photos shown here were taken around Choyo station).
On April 17th 2016, in the middle of the night, as we were staying at hotel Chikurakutei in Minami-aso, the ground shook. An earthquake was affecting the region of Aso. Its epicenter was right under us. The ground shook for many minutes at a time, then followed by brief interruptions, and then shook again. The electricity gone, in complete darkness, we protected ourselves with pillows and blankets, occasionally hearing tiles falling from the hotel roof and breaking on the ground. It is hard to tell exactly how long it took between each tremor, but one thing is sure, they were too frequent and too strong to our taste.
An employee of the hotel finally came to help us. We evacuated to the parking lot and were able to spend the rest of the night in the employee’s own car. The hotel lent us blankets to stay warm during the night but we were barely able to sleep since the ground shook repeatedly all night with frequent alarms from the town’s emergency sirens.
In the morning, we were able to hitch a ride to Miyazaki airport with other guests of the hotel and got tickets to fly to Nagoya, cutting short the trip we had planned around Kyushu.
I will forever remember the kindness and hospitality of the staff of hotel Chikurakutei, who stayed up all night to make sure of our safety and comfort throughout the night. Thank you! Despite the scary memories, we will, for sure, return to Minamiaso in a near future.
The Ohori Park is a lovely park located in Fukuoka. The park features a large pond at its center and a thin strip of land in the middle with a footpath that can be accessed by two stone bridges. A pavilion jutting out from the island offers a nice view of the park and the city. The pond itself is encircled by a footpath that is popular among runners.
I did not get the chance to go in the tower on this trip but our host kindly took us to a nice spot to see the tower itself after closing time. The place in question is in between the Fukuoka City Museum and the Momochi Central Park. The photos I took of this icon of Fukuoka turned out quite nice.
The Kyushu National Museum is one of the three national museums in Japan (the other three being in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto). Exhibits at the museum mainly cover Japanese history. We did not have time to visit the museum but we did visit a small free exhibition gallery where one can play various games and instruments of Asian origin. There, I had the chance to play a real gong with a huge hammer, which was quite impressive.
Yanagawa is renowned for the the many hundred kilometers of canals wandering across the city. Those canals that were once used for commercial transportation are now used by tourists taking part of a boat tour of the city. The tour guides steer the boats by using long perches to push on the canal’s bottom, propelling the boat forward. Our guide was a charming individual. I’m sure his guided tour was quite nice but I didn’t catch too much of his Japanese. It didn’t really matter because he was quite an entertainer, mostly singing folkloric songs along the way. Halfway during the trip, our guide stopped at a dock where stores were selling ice cream and beer which could be purchased from the boat! Highly recommend on a hot day! I’ll keep fond memories of the day I spent in Yanagawa.
The Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Kyushu and is located a short walk away from the Dazaifu station. The shrine’s grounds are extensive and include beautiful gardens and a museum which houses the shrine’s treasures. The main walkway leading to the shrine passes over an iconic large bridge and then under an impressive Torii gate before arriving at the main altar. Shinto rituals are performed at the shrine and can be witnessed by visitors.