When we managed to pull ourselves away from the fairytale forests we sailed to the main island of Kyushu and landed in the town of Makurazaki, Kagoshima. The winds were light, but from the south and we could sail a long way. Wow, Ohisashiburi! After years of motoring nearly every single mile this was nice.
It was a bit shocking at first to be in a city again, but the place was fairly quiet and the cycle trips were great. Some people stopped by the boat and we met Yoshie Kominato, a lady photographer who took us on a sunset tour and a drive to Minami Statsuma. And Mitsuyo Ibusuki, a sailing club member who also took us for a ride, this time to Chiran, a samurai town, followed by stop at a noodle restaurant and a hotspring.
Sunset at Bonotsu.
No, not Mt Fuji, we’re not that fast. Kanondake in the south of Kagoshima
Left a Japanese garden at Chiran, Right a tea plantation. The fans on poles move the air in winter, so the frost won’t get a chance to settle on the delicate leaves.
Jaap with Mitsuyo in a noodle restaurant
A typhoon was coming our way and we had to look for a more sheltered place. We moved a few miles north to an enclosed bay in Nomaike. Both ladies stopped by and Mi-chan even stayed overnight. It’s good to meet people who can tell us about their customs and traditions, show us places of interest and introduce us to local products. It’s even better that we can talk to them in their language. It was a bit hard at first, but our Japanese is now back to where we set off 4 years ago.
Terraced rice fields on the slopes of Nomadake
Who ever isn’t a farmer works as a fisherman, who also need space to work on nets.
More nets, not used for fishing but to protect the roof from taking off in a typhoon.
Whatever the occupation, everybody is too busy to clean up this mess.
Visiting yachts can stay at the little pontoon of the Kasasa Ebisu resort, where a little museum shows photos of famous Japanese seafarers and overseas visitors like… Harry Heckel! Jaap mailed Harry who replied right away and greetings were exchanged. A couple of yachts were on display, one belonging to Kyoko Imakaiire who solo circumnavigated it non-stop and who showed up in person for a weekend sail. We talked about our pasts and discovered we’d both done the same Yamaha Cup Yacht race from New Zealand to Japan in 1989. What a small world.
We sat out the strong winds of typhoon Kompasu and left again on September 1st.
Planning our trip towards Nagasaki we put down the town of Akune. We didn’t know much about it, but had stopped there once during a drive around Kagoshima 14 years ago and Jaap remembered its hotspring. Scanning the town on Google Earth he came across some photos of the local shopping street. Many shutters were painted with colorful, interesting and even funny images.
After a pleasant day sail from Kasasa Ebisu we found an unused pontoon to tie onto and went to sleep. The next morning a local yachtsman stopped by and when he asked why we’d come to Akune, we mentioned the painted shutters and he promptly introduced us to the artist who was at that time working on a shutter a mere 100m up road.
See more of Akune's shutter art: http://akuneart.potika.net/
That was the beginning of a very nice friendship with this yachtsman, Mr. Matsunaga and his family, Kyota sensei, the painter and his assistant Mr. Uenohara, The people at Harmonikan, Emi, the mayor’s sister and many others. Even the mayor himself dropped by for morning coffee.
Mr. Matsunaga took us to several scenic places, wonderful lunches and unique hotsprings.
Kyota sensei, Emi, Jaap and Mr. Matsunaga warming their feet in Kirishima.
We also had several parties in the evening and were allowed to admire the beautifully decorated residence upstairs from the coffee shop, full with antique furniture in a warm rural style. It looked like a feature in one of those glossy interior magazines.
Some of Noriko’s treasures
The few times we were not out somewhere with Mr. Matsunaga or on our own bikes, people stopped by at the red pontoon to chat all day long, starting at 6:00 am. Just as well we tend to rise early. So we got to know the Shimizus and enjoyed a meal at their house. Yuri, living in Ireland, home on vacation, speaking perfect English. Yuri’s brother and his friends who brought us fish and lots of other goodies. It was overwhelming, too much!
Countryside just south of the city, a mere 15 min on the bicycle.
A scarecrow contest near Izumi, east of Akune
Akune’s busy fish market
In the south, east of the Philippines TDs were forming one after the other, darting north, deepening on the way. One of them, Malou, developed in a proper typhoon and came heading our way, but changed course to the west just before reaching Kyushu. We did get some wind, but no waves and it didn’t do much harm anywhere. However, it happened just after new moon and the springtides became phenomenal, flooding the docks and the parking lot.
Left: Jellyfish on the parking lot. Right: Dinner with Katsuko and Mitsuo Shimizu
Akune held us in its grip for many days, however on September 10th our friends got up early to see us off, so we had to go.
Approaching Nagasaki you see the famous Mitsubishi shipyards
We skipped Amakusa and sailed nonstop to Nagasaki city. Only 45 miles to the north, we arrived the same day in the afternoon. There was a pleasant surprise: Dejima Wharf Marina in the middle of the city, walking distance from all the tourist attractions and surrounded by small restaurants on a boardwalk, playing jazz in the evening in a super romantic setting.
Dejima from the Nakashima River
Nagasaki has a lot to offer for tourists, not just the Atomic Bomb Museum. We have been there twice, cried twice, don’t need it a 3rd time. The same with Clover Garden and the original Dejima site. That left us all the other historical, cultural and folk museums and many temples and shrines.
Sofuku-ji, a Zen temple of Chinese origin.
The cats were in for a surprise as well when Noriko sensei came to stay and they had to share their bunks. Sensei didn’t bring out any syringes or nasty thermometers and they enjoyed the cuddles and the attention.
Wakame with her godmother Noriko
We caught up with Satoshi, a friend of a friend, who drove us around on a Sunday. We had met him once, some 20 years ago in company of another Dutch sailor in Japan named Jaap, who was in Fukuoka for a few days. Jaap, at present working on his boat in Wakayama re-introduced him.
Satoshi took us on a drive to Omura Wan, a safe haven for his yacht Bries
While in Nagasaki city we got the chance to watch a practice session for the big O Kunchi festival in October.
We saw this yearly festival in 1989 and remember it well, however we decided our experience out-dated; we should see it again. A new plan was made: we would hang around Nagasaki prefecture a bit longer, do all our delayed chores somewhere quiet and return to the city early October.
Another practice session was documented, to reinforce our decision
Towards the Dutch slopes we found an old sento or public bath house (left), Note the two entrance doors with the big YU character in red for ladies and blue for men. Right around the corner of the Chinese Historical Museum (roof detail right)
After the OK by the Ministry of Transport we got a new cruising permit and moved to Mie, a small town to the north with a big fish market. Here we found some new constructed typhoon shelters in a quiet area with very little traffic, a parking lot and bare land covered with grass and bush. The cats dove in the green strip between the parking lot and the dock like we dive in a swimming pool. Wakame invariably emerged chewing on some hopper, Nori kept chasing her tale. These cats were happy!
The typhoon shelters are boxed in by high metal fencing. Alishan is in the 3rd from the left
This cruise to re-discover Japan (the culture, the language) turned out to affect our social life more then anything else. And this was not the end. In Mie we reconnected with the big Sawamura family, mum dad and 12 kids. We’d met them 21 years ago when they were living in Nagasaki city and they were our first Japanese friends outside Fukuoka.
Jaaps search in the town, via their old neighborhood and the police station to the office of the fish market proved successful and Takaji, his wife, 2nd daughter and 2nd son came to Alishan right away. Many of the children now had families of their own and 17 grandchildren were brightening their lives. Everybody was excited and a party was planned. We can attest that the noise level at their gatherings is as high as ever.
One sad note however was Takaji’s health. He had just come out of hospital. We stayed longer than planned for the umpteenth time.
Fukue, Goto Retto
At last we made the jump to Fukue in the Goto Retto, away from cities and people. The weather was changing and the wind shifted to the north, bringing lower temperatures and rain. Again luck was with us in the form of a comfortable spot at a pontoon, more or less downtown.
Now times are filled with little projects in preparation of Edwin and Melissa’s visit next month. Stowing, cleaning, sewing, fixing and writing this update.
We had to dig up long sleeves and socks, the summer is ending. TDs are still threatening down south, but so far so good. Let’s keep our fingers cross.
Alishan in Fukue, right in front of the customs building.
The first night we stayed at the police dock, in full sight of the Coast Guard. The following morning the port captain showed us another spot, also at a pontoon, 50m away. A customs officer stopped by 2 days after our arrival. He was very friendly but reminded us that we could not have any visitors onboard and we replied: “Yes, we understand.” (We really do, but sometimes we forget) The Coast Guard took 3 days to find us and said: “We want to inspect your boat”. Shock! However, they didn’t mean a full inspection, just the paperwork.
Between jobs we explored the island, by bicycle or car. We got up at 4:00 am to go and see the raptor migration from Osezaki, drove to Arakawa hotspring and met our old friends. AGAIN were given the keys to Mrs. Ozaki’s car, who didn’t need it when she was at work, just like 4 years ago. How can we not love this country and the people. I wonder how long we will stay this time. Last time we said 1 or 2 years and we left after 11. This time?
From Yaku Shima via Makurazaki, Nomaike, Akune, Nagasaki, Mie to Fukue Port in the Goto Retto.
Somebody put a lot of work in this lovely old tug boat
Fishing vessels braving the waves around Yakushima
Dresssed-up in matsuri finery
A yacht full of canvas in Ginowan Marina
Not really afloat but a float
One of many inter-island ferries
Floating by to say farewell: Ryu-chan
Going for the trophy
How many floats?
Float no more
Funny, mostly just interesting
A personalized vendingmachine in Naha, Okinawa
Seasick Wakame. She can blow big bubbles, but they alwayst burst before we are ready.
The public toilet made not to look out of place in Yakusugi Land
When you see a foreign or strange looking boat, call 110!
Another vending machine, this one for fresh eggs. Makurazaki
Sake cups with a hole that cannot stand, so the drinker has to drink-up quickly and hold it to receive more.
Library on wheels
Just a colourful fence
A typhoon proof bunker type telephone booth in Anbo
And an interesting one in Fukue
BIRDS OF SOUTH JAPAN
Ruddy Kingfisher (Akashoubin) Often heard and sometimes seen in Amami as well
Japanese (Black) Paradise Flycatcher (Sankocho)
Also seen once in Amami
Chetsnut-eared Bulbul (Hyodori) Seen by the hundreds or more, all over south Japan
Common Moorhen (Ban) Comon birds, nesting in a ricefield
Ryukuy Crested Serpent Eagle (Kanmuri-washi) Defending his prey from a crow
Only seen in Iriomote, (4 years ago) and Ishigaki
Purple Heron (Murasaki sagi)
Akashima, Kerama Retto:
Blue Rock Thrush male (Isohyodori) As seen on all islands as well as mainland Kyushu
Japanese White-eye (Mejiro) Very common and so easy to capture
Okinawa main island
Blue Rock Thrush female (Isohyodori) often stopped around Alishan on the docks
Japanese Sparrowhawk female (Tsumi) Frequenting Ginowan, also seen in Amami and Fukue
Chinese Bulbul (Shirogashira) Abundant in Okinawa and Ishigaki, not seen much elsewhere
Japanese Sparrowhawk male (Tsumi) Ginowan
Scaly-breasted Munia (Amihara) Also seen in Ishigaki. A new Japanese resident?
Left: Green Pheasant (Kooraikiji) Right: Zitting Cisticola (Sekka)
Both very common in Izena
Pygmy Woodpecker (Kogera) Often seen, hard to capture
Left: Grey Plover (Daizen) Right: Ruddy Turnstone (Kyoujo-shigi)
Pacific Reef Egret (Kurosagi)
Left: Scops-Owl (Konohazuku) Right: Collared Scops-Owl (Ryukuy konohazuku)
Japanese Green Woodpecker (Aogera)
Common Kingfisher (Kawasemi)
Varied Tit (Yamagara)
Blue Heron (Aosagi) Seen in most places, photos takin in Makurazaki and Akune:
Black Kite (Tombi) From Yakushima northwards, Akune and Nomaike:
Black-crowned Nightheron (Goisagi), Akune:
Waiting on the roof of the fishmarket in Akune: Black Kites, Grey Herons and a Nightheron
Left: Bull-hesded Shrike (Mozu) Right: Silky Starling (Gin mukudori)
At sea between Kagoshima and Nagasaki:
Herring Gull (Seguro kamome)
Brown Booby (Katsuodori)
Streaked Shearwater (Omizunagidori)
Left: Great Tit (Shijuu-kara) Right: Meadow Bunting (Hoojiro)
Grey-capped or Oriental Greenfinch (Kawarahiwa) In flocks around farmland.
Grey Wagtail (Ki-sekirei) Finally a decent picture