April and May, 2001
The web page and my social life suffered something of a massive hit when I had to rush home to be with my dad who was undergoing surgery for kidney cancer. Thankfully, he made it through just fine and is getting back on his feet.
Before heading home, I made the trip down to Ebino to do some hiking in what loonely planet called something like 'the best volcanic hike in japan.' It was pretty good, even though I ended up doing the short version.
I returned to Japan May 1st, in the middle of Golden Week. Since I was not able to go away for the whole of it, I decided to spend the time in Japan instead, which allowed me to take in one of the local festivals, and also experience Golden Week as the Japanese experience it.
I had been talking to a friend up in Karatsu about her plans for golden week, and they lined up nicely with what I had hoped to do, so we agreed to go together down to Kagoshima. Before that, however, she was to march in the Fukuoka 'Dontaku' parade. Therefore on Thursday I found myself enjoying the festive atmosphere of Fukuoka city watching all sorts of people parade around like mad fools.
The next day we made our epic journey down to Kagoshima and had a relaxing weekend putzing around the southern end of Kyushu, visiting the southernmost tip of the island and in general doing nothing in particular.
It's worth noting that there are another 7000 photos that Trine took of Dontaku and the weekend in Kagoshima. However, they are currently too high-rez for the web page, which means I have to go through them before they go online. Wait for it!
On the Monday following I had to go back to teaching, which was more than a little intimidating considering I had been gone for so long, but I found it was not too difficult to slip back into the teaching habit. It's a little weird, though, knowing I won't get to see these kids graduate.
The next weekend was a cleaning weekend, and then spending lots of time sitting around, cleaning, things like that. We actually made it out to go hiking one day, rescuing me from boredom, and reintroducing me to how beautiful Saga Prefecture is. The week that followed was more life decisions and unpleasant things like that which are the same no matter which country one lives in.
The weekend of May 20th found us driving south to see an ALT I didn't know, but cold-called anyway to ask about his prefecture. Turns out he knew pretty much everyone in Saga, so he invited us to spend the night at his place, which was situated on the ocean. So we headed to Kumamoto Ken and the Amakusa islands, where we visited temples, ruins, and dolphins!
And finally, to close out the month, I headed down with Kim and two people she knew (a friend from home and a woman from Nagoya she met in Tazmania) to visit the most amazing place in Japan (maybe). Yakushima is located south of Kagoshima (about four hours by ferry) and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Now, I've been to quite a few of the cultural ones, but very few of the natural ones. Usually they are of the take your breath away variety, and Yakushima was no exception. More forests and nature than you can shake a stick at.
Back to Japan.
April and May 2001 <- Japan <- Home