Friday, September 05, 2008

News From Kagoshima

Free Image Hosting at

I'm behind in posting the number of pictures I'd wanted for Kagoshima but I hope to make for this deficit by writing about this fine city. Arriving yesterday, the train tracks followed the bay as we headed toward the station, offering a great view of Kagoshima's famous active volcano, Sakurajima, all the way to the staion. [Pictured above] Everyone I've talked to loves their volcano and some of the stories they share are amazing. An orange haze over the night sky. Waking up to ash on the ground in the morning ever-so-often. They say it anchors their view. Grounding it. I've only been lucky enough to see contant steam rising from the cone, comfirming that it is, indeed, a completely 100% active volcano. History - as everywhere in Japan really - plays a strong roll here. They are crazy about the Meiji Restoration here, lending Kagoshima its own archtiectural style; a sort of cross between bad dated French Rococco made in the 80s and Japanese. Being this far south, Kagoshima was an early center for astronomy in Japan. Astrology symbols have been cleverly worked into everything, from place names to business cards. This morning I walked up Shiroyama, both for the view of the city below and volcano across the bay but also because the area, now a park, was where some of the earliest astronomy observatories were built in Japan. I also found an onsen at the top of the mountain that overlooked the city and volcano. It was a bit pricy (but very luxerious inside) and gave me a great view of the volcano - relaxing too - all to myself, without the crowds of noisy tourists. Well worth every yen. The water was natually a product of the valcano across the bay and is known for the high amount of naturally occuring ions in the water. The thing to eat in Kagoshima is a type of pork, called black pork or kuro buta, so that is pretty much what I eat everyday. Pork on rice. Fried pork. Pork Soup. It's all very good especially considering I don't mind spending the energy seeking out where the locals eat. The local alcohol is Shocho, a type of potato spirit. Kagashima was located far from historical Kyoto and Edo and thus was considered a poot back water. The scarce rice that was grown was sent to Edo, leaving the population the lowly potato. I personally find the stuff a bit dangerous as it goes down so smoothly one doesn't really know how much they've consumed. Still, I will have to get over my fear and try some. But where!?!?! This city has more tiny bars than I could of ever imagine! I had read about it beforehand but wow! And I say this with full wieght of my knowledge of Japanese cities and bars. There are thousands of bars, each maybe sitting 8 or 12, some are duds, others are uber-cool. But how can one ever find the one they want? It's nearly impossible. Whole windowless warehouse size buildings filled with new bars to discover. I'll try to get a picture to illustrate my point. Tomorrow I'm off to Sakurajimi itself to hopefully walk on the lava fields. New land right below one's feet.

1 comment:

MOCHELL said...

Hi Blair,an enjoyable and well written article on Kagoshima,a little city that I love and have visited on numerous occasions.