This past week I took a five-day trip to Kyushu (九州）. Kyushu is the island extending southward from the western most tip of the main big island Honshu (本州). Of the seven prefectures on Kyushu, I was able to visit five: Kagoshima (鹿児島), Kumamoto (熊本), Saga (佐賀), Nagasaki (長崎), and Fukuoka (福岡). Kyushu is famous for, among other things shouchuu (a Japanese alcoholic drink made from potatoes (imojouchuu 芋焼酎), rice, corn, or wheat), and ramen.
I started out in Kagoshima, on the southern tip of Kyushu. Here I visited the island of Sakurajima (桜島), which used to be a separate island but at the beginning of the 20th century a volcanic eruption bridged the gap to the mainland and turned it into a peninsula. Some famous food from Kagoshima is kurobuta, a special kind of pork. I had a nice dinner that included everything from pork sashimi to pork tongue and boiled pork. Also famous in Kagoshima is shirokuma, a really nice frozen desert which I’d describe as vanilla snow with lots of embedded fruits.
Next was Kumamoto, where I visited its castle and had some nice ramen. This time the noodles were the skinny kind I like, and the soup was not too salty. Definitely an improvement on the Kagoshima stuff. On the way from Kumamoto I stopped at Tosu (鳥栖) a little town in Saga prefecture for about 20 minutes. Not much to say about that place except that I did get some nice train pictures.
Finally, I headed over to Nagasaki, which has a ton of islands and lots of peninsulas. Nagasaki was the first part of the trip that actually felt like I was in a different part of Japan. There, you’re right on the waterfront and the sounds are something other than just traffic. (You know, boat whistles and seagulls and stuff). I took a boat out to a practically deserted island called Takashima (高島). It looks like it might be somewhat of a summer resort town at some point, but at this time there was no one there. I actually really loved being in such a quite place for a while, taking some nice pictures and just soaking up the peace. I visited the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb museum, which was quite moving for me. But strange, also because both places were full of Indian sailors.
Some of the famous food in Nagasaki is champon, a hearty seafood soup with zillions of different ingredients, and turukoraisu (Turkish rice) which was nothing special. Nagasaki is one of the cities I wouldn’t mind living in, because of its actual personality, and I bet the summer humidity isn’t quite as oppressive as Nagoya. I’ll definitely visit again.
On the way back, I stopped again in Fukuoka for a couple of hours, which gave me just enough time to visit another Ichiran. (Compare to this time. It was the same kind of shokken, isolated booths place). I wanted to visit a yatai, but at that time of the early afternoon, none of them were open yet, so I had no choice. Even though now I realize this place is a significant chain, I still think that this Fukuoka ramen is the best ramen in Kyushu.