This three day weekend is the first chance I've had to just relax around the city for a while. I still might go visit the Samurai houses in Chiran and explore some more of the history of Saigo Takamori (incidentally, The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori is a great read), but we shall see...
In the meantime, I've got some other adventures lined up. Almost exactly one year after my Shimanami Kaido cycling trip, I'm planning a similar excursion in southern Kyushu. This time to the southernmost point of the main islands, Cape Sata (佐多岬).
Day One - Take the ferry from Kagoshima to Sakurajima - Start riding - Early lunch and a quick soak at Furusato Onsen, famous for it's seaside baths - Ride to the small town of Nejime (根占) on the east side of Kinko Bay, following the coastline
Apparently Nejime, in addition to Beppu, hosts an onsen matsuri during the month of November. I may have to stop by again. There's also a unique moonlight dance that is held the 3rd Saturday in September (but I believe they're skipping it this year).
Day Two - Ride to Cape Sata - If time, take the glass-bottom boat tour - Ride back to Nejime - Ferry across to Ibusuki (Schedule) - Stay in Tamaya Youth Hostel in Ibusuki, adjacent to the sand baths - Leisurely sand bath
Day Three - Depending on the weather and my mood, abandon bicycle and take the train back to Kagoshima
Nakanoshima (中之島) is similar to Ioujima (硫黄島) in size and population, but offers a lot more in the way of beaches and diving. As I don't have a scuba diving license, however, I'll settle for a snorkeling kit, some blue waters, and clear skies. Onsen, an observatory (I doubt there can be any light pollution whatsoever), and horse breeding (let's see if they'll let a Texan take the reins)... there's a reason people choose to live here.
And speaking of adventure, this is an inspiring story. I might be heading back to Aso-san in Kumamoto Prefecture in the near future to work on a story for Matador Travel. In the meantime, the outlook is positive, and the future is bright, even with the cusp of a typhoon raging outside my window. I get complacent here sometimes, but whenever I'm home, or in any contrasting situation, I just have to realize... Japan is an amazing place to live if you let it be.