I should have explained earlier that Kagoshima prefecture is shaped like a “n”, and Kagoshima Bay fills the middle of the “n”. Kagoshima City and Sakurajima are at the top of the “n”, and Ibusuki is at the bottom of the left leg of the “n”. Kagoshima is BEAUTIFUL, and we really enjoyed the drive down to Ibusuki since most of the road paralleled the coast. Plus, Kagoshima was already much warmer than Kumamoto. The weather was fabulously warm, and we wore T-shirts for most of the time. It almost seemed like we were on a tropical island instead of just an hour south of where we live.
Okay, so Sunday…..It was Easter, but it sure didn’t feel like it. I had brought my bunny ears and duck necklaces to wear, and sure enough, I wore them ALL. DAY. LONG. I got several double takes and giggles from people, but in a country that doesn’t celebrate holidays you’ve celebrated your whole life, you have to figure out some way to recognize the day! Melissa B. was cool enough to wear my duck necklace while I sported the ears (below, right). Our first stop of the day was to pick up breakfast at a conbini. Mary and I gave up Coke during Lent, so we toasted the day with a little breakfast Coke (below, left).
We met back up with Ana, Michael, Amanda, and Brian at the hotel so that we could caravan over to the sand onsen. The sand onsen is a little different than a regular onsen because instead of soaking in hot water, you get covered in hot volcanic sand. (It’s supposed to be very good for your skin. Whenever I got out, my skin felt silky smooth!) None of us had done it before, and it was indeed quite the experience!! We all wore long robes, and they had us lay down in half dug out trenches. They wrapped a towel around our head to prevent sand getting in our hair and neck and then covered us with the sand. I know how heavy sand can be when you get buried at the beach, but this wasn’t so bad since it was just enough to cover the body. It felt like being wrapped in a warm hug. I’ve never had an electric blanket, but that’s what I imagine it to feel like. Some people in our group started to complain about how hot it was, but I loved it. Most people in our group could only stand the heat for about ten minutes, but I’m proud to say that I was under the sand for about twenty. I was happy in my little cocoon. Whenever I got out, though, I didn’t realize just how sweaty I was! The air temperature was actually cold compared to the snuggly warmth I experienced under the sand!
Although we were buried in sand, the robes prevented it from getting EVERYWHERE. We had to rinse off and then were able to soak in a normal onsen. Once everyone got out of the regular onsen, we parted ways. Michael, Ana, Amanda, and Brian headed back to Hitoyoshi, but the rest of us drove into Kagoshima City to eat Shirokuma. What’s that, you say? Shirokuma, literally translated, means “white bear.” It’s a giant ice cream/shaved ice dessert. They take a cantaloupe sized amount of shaved ice, pour this sweet milk stuff all over it, and decorate it with fruits and jellies. It’s YUMMY! Mary told us that we HAD to try it since it a) is a Kagoshima specialty, and b) was Easter. The closer we got to the city, the better views we got of the volcano. Don’t be alarmed at the cloud rising out of it because it’s quite normal (below, left). Sakurajima erupted (like full on ERUPTED) in the early 90s, and not on person was hurt. They know how to deal with it!)
As we walked to get Shirokuma, we noticed a couple of girls in front of us keep turning around and staring. It’s not that big of a deal, and we’re all used to this kind of thing, but just the vibe these girls had was definitely different. It was like they were amazed by something. When they kept turning around, I thought it might be because of my bunny ears, so I smiled. Melissa B. thought they were looking at her, so she waved. They were polite and smiled back at us, but when Justine waved, they ALL squealed. Justine has a gift and a curse of having beautiful blonde hair, and here people are absolutely amazed by it! (She’s had her fair share of both good and bad people drawn to it.) The girls wouldn’t stop smiling, and one even asked if they could get a picture with her (above, right). I know that by Justine taking that picture she definitely made those girls incredibly happy. They’ll probably go home, to school, etc and show all of their friends the picture of them and the beautiful blonde foreigner.
We finally found a Shirokuma place, and it was well worth it. This dessert was HUGE, and my, my, my was it delicious! Happy Easter to us all! Ian and I decided to split one, and thank goodness we did! There’s NO WAY we would have been able to each eat one of those!
Once our bellies were stuffed full of Shirokuma deliciousness, we headed on back to Hitoyoshi. Mary, Justine, Melissa, and I rode in Mary’s car, and we totally had a dance party. We enjoyed sitting in traffic and making it as awkward as possible for all of the cars around us. There were people staring, laughing, and noticeably ignoring us. To those people, we threw our hands in the air even more obnoxiously and sang the lyrics. Mary has a white plate car, meaning that it’s an actual car and has a decent engine. Rebeca has a yellow plate car, meaning that its engine is tiny and wishes it could be as powerful as a white plate. Anyway, Rebeca thought she would be cute, sped up, and passed us on the expressway. We showed her. It wasn’t but a few minutes before Mary’s stronger car overtook Rebeca’s and we slid into first place again. I laughed and said that it was like Fast and the Furious: Kagoshima Drift. Hahaha!
……and that was the extent of our Easter weekend. I hope everyone else had as good of a weekend as us! Happy (belated) Easter to everyone!