Mar 292008

The morning after my “day of onsens” I awoke in a little Beppu ryokan smelling strongly of rotten eggs.

…From all the minerals in the onsen.

But unlike the day before, when I lazily passed the morning in bed and at Starbuck’s, this time I couldn’t wait to get outside.

I headed straight to the monkey mountain, one stop away from Beppu on the JR line. It had more monkeys than I’ve ever seen. Thousands.

And during feeding time, they literally piled 3 layers high while stampeding to grab every last food pellet.

I spent quite a few hours up there walking around, taking pictures, chatting with a group of students from APU and one of the staff members.

Before hiking down and catching a train to my next stop: Shimonoseki.

Shimonoseki is the last city at the extreme Western tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island, and an important connecting point to South Korea (you can get there in a matter of hours on a high-speed hydrofoil). It’s also separated from the island of Kyushu only by a very narrow strait, which you can cross either via a highway bridge or an underwater foot tunnel. I thought it might be a quick and interesting stop on my way back to walk across, under the water.

So although my Lonely Planet suggested taking a bus from Shimonoseki station to the tunnel entrance I decided to go by foot. I’ve found that while traveling, the coolest experiences often pop up in the most unexpected places.

This was not one of those cases.

The walk was just as long and uninteresting as LP suggested – scarcely even a restaurant to stop and eat at. Just big office buildings and apartments for about an hour and a half. Oh well 😛

Finally I located the bridge, and the elevators down to the tunnel.

I walked across, snapped some pictures from the opposite side, and walked back.

Although I still had a full day on my railpass, after a small amount of debate (about going back to Hakata for one more bowl of that nation-wide famous ramen) I decided to just return home to Kyoto.

It may not seem like it from all the events listed in Japan Notes 2-4, but by end of this trip through Kyushu I’d really started to feel like I’ve done everything I want to do at this end of the country. Whenever I finished an activity I found myself struggling to figure out what to do next. That’s not to say there’s nothing I haven’t seen down here; just that with all the places I’ve never been, I think it’s time to call it quits on Kyushu.

Next time I have a railpass I’ll make sure to use it in Summer so the days are longer and warmer, and I’ll head North from Tokyo to a part of Japan I’ve yet to visit even once.

  2 Responses to “Japan Notes 5 – Monkeys and a Tunnel”

  1. Cool pic of the bridge

  2. Thanx 🙂 That’s the exact place I walked across – only under the water instead of over it.

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