My Kaminishi pilgrimage is complete.
At 10am, Junichi picked me up from my hotel after I checked out, and took me ALL over. The first thing I noticed was that he had a TV in his car located in the dash! I’ve seen DVD players in cars in the US, but never in the front and never tuned into a local TV station. It didn’t seem to distract him, but if it were me driving, I would have crashed within 30 seconds of getting behind the wheel.
Our first major stop was the ferry over to Sakurajima. We drove all around the volcano, stopping to take pictures, and then we ate lunch at a local ramen place close by. I had the Kurobuta pork ramen… oishii as always!!
I am completely honored that Junichi took the day off to drive me around. We drove through so much of the countryside, passing by rivers, waterfalls, and breath-taking views of the volcano and the surrounding coastline.
Besides being one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, one other thing I realized about Junichi is that he has a really cool laugh. I don’t know how many of you have watched old samurai movies, but if you have, you know that all of the really cool samurai have this deep, distinct laugh… “HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!” Junichi’s laugh sounds like that! I feel like I’m 13 writing about this topic, but it was too cool not to mention. And the more I watched him, the more he looked like a samurai to me. Anyway, that was my observation of the day.
Junichi knew a fair amount of English, and we were able to have pretty good conversation considering we would speak in broken English and Japanese together. His friend Masako was on-call to help with any translation issues we needed. He would call her, explain what he was trying to say, then hand the phone to me so she could translate in English. It was really cool… like a dial-a-translation service. We only had to call once today… not bad! Big thanks to Masako for all she did to help us communicate!!
When we arrived at the airport, Junichi’s brother (Toshiaki), his nephew (Kenta), and his mother (Tokiko) met us inside for tea. They were all ridiculously nice. The family even gave me gifts to take with me! Yasashii!!
Kagoshima was definitely an amazing experience for me. I met some wonderful people and got to see some of the most beautiful countryside in the area. I really want to come back as soon as I can. I hear they have some special sento/onsen where they put hot sand on you before to help your skin! If I can do that, I can REALLY be a Sento Sensei!
I hopped on the plane to head back to Haneda airport in Tokyo, grabbed a quick bite at the airport, then jumped on another plane to go to Tottori-ken. My Kaminishi pilgrimage is complete… now to see the Ashimotos! I landed safely and to my surprise, my cousin Atsushi Ashimoto and his wife Yasue were waiting to pick me up! I was so glad I didn’t have to take another bus. They speak English well, having lived in the U.S. for a bit while Atsushi did some research at USC… so this part of my Japan journey should be easier in the communication department. Tomorrow, I think I may go to the infamous Tottori sand dunes! Stay tuned for more updates…