Map of my Japanese Island. Remember this. I am making a solid effort to learn all of the prefectures of Japan, but its way hard! There's a whole bunch!
Map of Mt. Aso, the volcano!
The sakura (cherry trees) are doing that blooming thing and it is oh so pretty!
The thing to do when the sakura are mankai (in full blossom) is to portion off a space under them for you and your friends to barbecue and drink under. I really appreciate Japan for this - it seems that every season there is a new flower blossoming or tree changing color that needs to be viewed while eating and drinking in the company of friends and family. Many butcher shops will deliver a BBQ set complete with meat, veggies and rice to your designated sakura viewing spot and pick it all up when you are done feasting. Brilliant!
We went on a camping expedition to Mt. Aso, an active volcano in northern Kumamoto prefecture (see the above map) that boasts the largest caldera in the world.
It all began with shrieks of excitement over a Starbuck's with a drive thru in the middle of nowhere Japan that looked like a carbon copy of something you would see off the 5 in between SF and LA. How did I get here, to this point where Starbuck's excites me? All I can think of are other times of desperation: eating Subway in Delhi, or conversely, all the shitty Japanese food I have eaten in NOT Japan.
And then, my prized loaf of "French countryside bread" purchased from the only store in Kagoshima to sell such a thing flew out of the trunk and it had to be saved a mile down the freeway. When it was rescued it had tire marks across the top but you don't just give up that kind of bread for lost.
Some anti-drug propaganda on the front of a convenience store. Be broken! Flashback! Ha, what I would give for a nice flashback once and a while here...
Feeding the lazy koi. Lazy fish!
We skipped over to Takachiho Gorge in northern Miyazaki prefecture because there were rumors that you could kayak through it, but the kayaks turned out to be rowboats with a one and a half hour wait and you had to stay in a roped off area. So instead we just watched Japanese people run their rowboats into the sides of the cliffs
Funny English is so prevalent that I rarely take pictures of it any more, but I always should. It's often quite poetic.
There was a bonfire accompanied by the usual Bob Marley covers, lots of expensive cheap wine, mystery guests (I wish they had been of a supernatural nature), and sentimental marsh mellows. I woke up unsure of quite a few moments.
I saw the stars for the first time in ages. Growing up in Ojai, CA, seeing the stars really means something to me and Japan is so overly lit that I had given up on them. At last!
Some delicious BBQ treats! Sweet, sweet salmons!
At the volcano you could ride these beautiful draft horses in a sad circle around a hill that all the Japanese tourists walked up in high heels.
We walked up the "real hill" to try to get a view into the steaming volcano but it was too smoky to see anything.
Part of the caldera. A face, anyone?
The volcano smoking in the distance.
Looking shockingly sporty (a look I won't ever really feel comfortable with) after summitting the hill.
At Kumamoto Castle. Flowers. Castle, Japan style. Rainy day.