It only took about an hour and a half of rocky slopes through the forest to reach the top.
Oh the view! The western coastline below!
This is a view of Lake Ikeda that is famed to have 3m eels and a relative of the Lochness monster.
Sweaty foreigners...I'm ready for the post-hike cold beer.
The day after our momentous hike we sauntered out onto the stormy beaches of Ibusuki to be burried in steaming hot sand! The deal is, you wear a yukata (light cotton kimono) and someone digs a shallow hole/grave for you to lay in and then these great old ladies come around and methodically bury you. I happen to love the sensation of weight on top of me, so I closed my eyes and was in heaven and tried not to focus on the grains of sand making their way into the crevices of my body.
This isn't me, but I probably looked something exactly like this.
Yeah, not me either, but you get it. Burried in hot sand.
We were buried in the sand under this covered area with a view of this stormy ocean below. After twenty minutes or so of connecting with what it feels like to be steamed alive, I emerged from the sand off and staggered into the onsen where I washed off the remaining sand and soaked in the hot water and sauna to my hearts content. They really got it right with all these hotsprings.
Part II: The Going Gets Good
Some days are the opposite of "I love Japan," and in fact are more like "I am failing at living in Japan" days. However, today was "I love Japan" so hard.
The "I suck at Japan" days happen when: I am so anxious about finding my way to the pottery studio that I am trying to take classes at that I misread the clock (there was a glare, I swear) and leave work an hour early and don't realize it until I am nearly at the pottery studio; I forget not to try eating any pastas with "creamy" sauces at the "Italian" restaurants here, I forget to have change smaller than 10,000 yen (about $100, but in Japan terms, goes as far as $50) when I am getting off the bus and hold up the entire bus trying to find someone with change until an old lady just pays for me while probably silently cursing my foreignness under her breath; I lose my umbrella right before four days of rain; watching a documentary on Annie Lebowitz makes me cry, etc.
Ok, but a day like today (and they do happen often!): old ladies make conversation with me on the bus like I can actually understand Japanese and give me honey candies; my ikebana teacher calls me a genius after I make a very small adjustment to the adjustments that she has already made to my arrangement (haa, its the funny/Japan-ironies that make is all worth while); I make guacamole for all the teachers at my school and put in as much garlic as I would normally and though they do mention the garlic, they can't stop eating it (they love me!); I spend all of one class explaining to my kids about how gross McDonald's in America is; I see an old man carrying a large puffy dog like a baby while it licks his face; I find the most incredible new ramen shop and get to sit at the counter and watch my bowl of heaven being handmade, the weather is cool and I wear a cardigan to school; I get to watch the fall rice harvest.