The first part of a road trip
was our first day of the road trip proper - we packed up the car in the
morning and got on the highway. We weren't on the highway long
before we were hungry for lunch - welcome to Hitoyoshi. The town
has castle ruins next to the river and the cherry blossoms were in full
bloom - instant Hanami! We had lunch and met a bunch of very
friendly locals who shared their lunch with us.
Folk Craft Center
in 1185 the Heike fugitives were defeated in the battle of Dannoura and
they came here to hide. They started making toys similar to what
they had in Kyoto and started a long line of type makers. We
visited a Folk Craft center showing traditional toys and traditional
arts. The center also has "you make it" areas - pottery, paper
making, ring making and demonstrations were available on different
The museum section showed toys and crafts from different time
periods. In general, the boys toys (kits, models) were much more
fun than the girls toys - dolls. Many of the toys seemed
impossibly delicate - pretty much only for display.
One of my favorite parts were the water nymphs - apparently these are
traditional figures that said to be tricksters. They will take
things from you unless you bow to them - when they return the bow, the
water runs off their heads and they have to return to the river
Kirishima National Park
for the evening was a camp site at Ebino Kogen - a small area near the
top of the volcano in that national park. Eric had booked us in a
cabin. The camp provided blankets and a Kotetsu - a table with a
heater under it.
The cabin was solidly build with tatami mats over the wood
floors. There was a deep area for taking your shoes/boots off and
three levels - a bottom floor where we ate and played cards, a mezzanine
that could have sleep 2, but was where we kept out bags, and the top
floor where we slept. For the 10,000 yen we spent for the two
nights, it was the by far the cheapest accommodations we paid for on the
The next morning we woke up in light
and fog. We had hoped to go for a few hikes, but anything particularly
adventuresome was going to buried in fog. While our camp site did
have a bath, we decided to try one of the local mountain onsens.
Unforuntatly we were greeted with a "No Camera's" sign so I can't show
you the amazing view or the milky white river, but needless to say it
was a good soak.
We weren't going to stay in one of Japan's few national parks without
going for at least a little walk. The weather didn't look good
(rain came and gone), but we put on a brave face and walked around
three volcanic lakes.
If the weather had cooperated enough that we could have seen he
volcano peaks, this would have been a splendid walk. We met up at
the tourist center (mmm, pickles) and then got in the car to get
lunch. After lunch we decided to try something a bit more
a lot of temples in my life so while this is a big complex
for the area, it was tiny compared to my memories of Nikko
That said, this
temple is very well maintained and set in beautiful surroundings.
This temple is known for it's red highlights (and a really big
gate). While the gate wasn't particularly photogenic, the red
seemed to permeate the place. I don't know who does the painting,
but they do a good job.
It was nearing the end of the day so we started to head back toward
our camp site, hopefully with dinner in there somewhere. We had
seen a waterfall on our route to Kirishima-jingu, so we decided to stop
in in the last light of the day.
a lot of waterfalls in my
life, but this one would
definitely be in my top 5. The water going over the falls is hot
spring fed so it takes on a creamy blue colour. The water is
falling over columnar basalt - a fairly rare rock formation - and each
surface is covered with moss or algae that grows under the pressure of
falling water. This waterfall was just a few minutes from a
combini, but for me was a great highlight of Japanese scenery.
It's been a busy day - what better time for another soak! Driving
up and down to our camp site we passed the Kirishima Hotel
the huge green house like building connected to the back. We
decided to try it out. Gabi braved the front desk and sure
enough, they would admit 4 grubby westerners for a bath for just a 1000
yen each. Inside, we found the largest
hot spring bath I've ever seen
- there were many specialty pools
around the central pool and the water was both hot and fresh. In
theory, the main pool is mixed bathing, but Gabi was discouraged from
entering the pool by an elderly male local. Of course no cameras
are allowed, but I will remember that soak for a long time.
nice as the mountains are, it's time for us to go south and to the
coast. On the way south we stopped in Chiran - a small town with
a few big attractions. The first attraction is a Samurai
- a collection of 7 homes with attached gardens dating from
about 200 years ago. The gardens were derived from Kyoto and
Tokyo styles by lords who visited the capitals and wanted to bring the
sophistication (and maybe a gardener) back with them. The gardens
are in a classical geometric forms where ponds represent oceans, rocks
represent mountains and shrubs can represent the hillsides. Many
of the gardens have specific viewing locations where the garden blends
in with the local hills to form a more complete scene.
Chiran's other popular attraction is the Peace
Musuem for Kamikazi Pilots
. During world war 2, 1036 one way
missions were flown from the local airbase to American ships off the
coast of Japan. This museum has a number of recovered Japanese
aircraft (most from harbour bottoms), artifacts and photos from the
time period and stories from families. I was quite impressed when
we came in - they provided prerecorded translation headsets free to us
foreigners - someone was thinkings. The museum was quite somber
and gave you a sense of the loyalty and desperation of the time.
We had dinner plans in Ibusuki so we had to get moving.
Tags: Japan(28), waterfall(4), forest(4), toy(4), cherry blossoms(3), lantern(3)
People: Eric(1), Gabi(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Third Trip to Japan > Ebino Kohen
Beautiful photo essay. I was in Kumamoto, Ibusuki and Chiran quite a while ago and loved it. Your pictures brought back good memories. Thank you for posting them! Bernhard from Munich, Germany
Friday, January 23rd, 2009 at 20:07:39
Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:56:27 Edit
Copyright and Contact Information.