Saturday, September 22, 2007

Japan 11: Of Yamaguchi and Fukuoka experience

A day trip to visit some places around 山口県, Yamaguchi Prefecture. It was filled with factories and industries along the way on the Shinkansen, bullet train. Definitely not the prettiest of sights.

After about slightly more than an hour's ride, the bullet arrived at 厚狭, Asa, where it was initially planned to visit 長門市, Nagatoshi, at the coast of Sea of Japan. However, the train schedule indicate that the next train will arrive in more than an hour's time. And yes, all train and bus timings and schedules are on public display, even in most crowded cities like Osaka or Tokyo, timings of trains of intervals of 3 or 4 minutes are indicated. Next stop will be 下関, Shimonoseki instead, then followed by Nagatoshi.

Probably, a very interesting place to visit.

The streets of Shimonoseki.

Shimonoseki, the city that harvest the greatest amount of fugu or pufferfish or porcupinefish, is a paradise for pufferfish lovers. There are many restaurants in town that specialise in pufferfish cuisine, and many snacks and dried products and goods using pufferfish as the main ingredient.

Even the train entrance are dedicated to this deadly creature, but is turned into an amiable character here.

Tracking through the mountains in rural Japan.

Passing through valleys, into a totally different realm of Japan.

And through villages and rice fields.

At one station, all passengers have to alight to wait for another train to transfer. Most passengers were mostly above their sixties, probably an evidence of the exodus of the young from the rural areas to the cities.

During this waiting period, there was a chat with one of the locals, a man probably in his seventies in Japanese, with much difficulty over the language barrier. Still, it was interesting, a personal touch to experience life with the locals, something which is never ever found in those tour packages.

It might be quite a long wait, but it was the time where the mind was able to seek some peace and spend sometime to do nothing but stared at the train tracks.

But unfortunately, the next train took a long time and still never arrived. Then the station captain informed the passengers that the next train had encountered some problems and will not be arriving. It was about 1 hour of wait or so, the station captain called all passengers together and discussed plans about ferrying the passengers to their intended destinations on bus or taxi. One kind old lady told the station captain of the inability to comprehend Japanese. With sometime to spare, some touring of the area was done.

The beautiful Sea of Japan.

However, the trip to Nagatoshi was abandoned. Making full use of the JR rail pass, plans was made to get back to Shin-Shimonoseki to take the Shinkansen to the southernmost part of the Shinkansen line, at Hakata. But however, ended taking a local train instead although the direction seemed to be correct; into Kyushu.

Upon arriving at the first stop on Kyushu, transfered was made to the Shinkansen for the most southern point on the Shinkansen line, Hakata in Fukuoka.

After dinner, and some touring of the city, the day ended quickly. It took about 1 hour from Hakata to arrive at Hiroshima. This trip might seem to end up with no visit to any popular destination on the tourist map, but it was exciting, a great chance to see another part of Japan, and the experience of how much trouble together with fun, unexpected events while descending into the whealm of unknown territory. It is a wonderful experience that no amount of those packaged tours can ever bring.



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