Two days after mum left I made my way over to Kyushu and found myself in familiar haunts on a night out on the town in Fukuoka city, almost as though I had never left. I caught up with old friends, and later did the same again back in Saga, where my journey first began more than 6 months ago. And yet, after spending so much time with other people, I found myself yearning for the solitude that I had enjoyed for much of the trip. And so I set off again for a few days to travel around Kyushu.
I did have an ulterior motive: I had almost completed my collection of post cards from all the prefectures of Japan barring three of the prefectures in Kyushu; I also wanted to be able to say that on this single trip I travelled to all prefectures except the outer islands of Hokkaido and Okinawa.
So after the oil drama was solved more quickly than I expected, I set off again on a long afternoon drive down to Kumamoto, south of Saga. I had originally planned to do a small loop to collect my post cards and head back the same way, but I started to develop a crazy idea to drive right over to the east coast of the island to visit a beach that I had been to several times previously and really enjoyed.
The next day I made an early start, was able to successfully complete my post card mission quite early on and then on to the beach for the afternoon! Aoshima was every bit as good as I’d remembered and in fact probably had a larger swell than I had ever seen before. Unfortunately there are always a lot of rips at the beach, and technically swimming is not allowed, but there was no way I was missing out on that beautiful fresh sea water after driving all that way and waiting out the whole winter. I didn’t even have a swimsuit! But I went out a short way in my clothes and enjoyed the refreshing sea water.
I’m sure all the surfers probably thought I was crazy as I would wander along the beach to one end, have a swim, walk back, swim again and so forth. Eventually I retired to the van, which I had set up with the awning stretched out, facing the sea. It was exactly the relaxing I needed to go to sleep and wake up to the soft roar of the ocean waves; I could have easily stayed for a week if I didn’t have other engagements back in Saga a few days later.
The next day I had to move or face an 8+ hour drive the following day, so I set off northward along the Miyazaki coast and found another beach in Nobeoka. This one didn’t have the swell of Aoshima as it was protected by a bay, but it also didn’t have the surfers…. or anyone else for that matter! So again I set up my awning and headed down for an evening stroll along the shore. This time though, I was quickly distracted by the sight of countless pippies (baby clams) at the water’s edge, also enjoying the quiet lapping of the waves. I decided that the unfortunate clams were a fortunate find for me, so I collected a bunch and promptly steamed them up to have as a snack with my evening beer!
Freshly caught clams and a beer as the sun sets over your own private beach. Does it get any better than that?
Unfortunately the next day I had to head back to Saga for a party that evening, though not before I managed to squeeze in one last waterfall from the top 100 list. It was a pretty impressive one and I’m glad I made the time to check it out. I got back to Saga with enough time to clean myself with a relaxing soak in a local onsen before heading out to meet my friends for another great night at our favourite Jamaican izakaya.
Though the end was a little rushed, I’m so glad I took the time to chill out for these few days at the beach before getting more involved in seeing people, packing, cleaning out the van and so on. I really needed a break: a holiday after my holiday, if you will. With a bit of time left in Saga, hopefully I might have the chance to go to the beach once more before I go back to the chill of a Sydney winter!