Friday, we took the bus direction to Unzen. It is one of the most active volcano in Japan and it’s famous for its onsen and crazy hot springs (hot enough to boil some Christians back in the 1600s.)
We departed at 9 and the bus was flirting with the coast, offering some beautiful views and magnificent puns on the city of Obama, where they took the joke far enough to display a cardboard of the American president.
When we arrived in the hot springs part of Unzen, we were welcome with a strong smell of sulfur and we started the day with visiting the ‘hell’ of Unzen. It seems like a small Yellow Stone version stuck between foresty mountains, except that in this version, it was also the place Christians were tortured and killed during the persecutions orchestrated by the shogunate at the time. Conclusion? Don’t mess with Japanese when trying to spread your faith all over the place. It almost, never ends well.
When we had enough of the sulfur perfume (and the traditional eggs they sell)(they tasted good)(like normal eggs)(just way more expensive)(#marketing) and enough roasted sweet potatoes, we went to look for a place to have lunch.
We went to have a bath in a nearby onsen and enjoyed a rotenburo (outside bath, with the birds and under maple trees) for a few hours. It was peaceful and relaxing (but maybe a bit too hot for summer!)
After some last walk, we took the bus to go the city of Shimabara, on the coast facing Kumamoto. We couldn’t find any affordable accommodation for the night in Unzen, so Shimabara it is!
As we got out of the mountains, we were greeted with a wonderful view on the sea and we went and checked in at our hostel (which had a tatami room for us, yay, internet reservations being unavailable.) Since we were in the area around the ferry boarding for Kumamoto, there wasn’t much to do. We walked around looking for a place to eat but eventually ended up in a giant konbini (convenience store) which had a whole place to eat, sit down and enjoy wifi/tea. I think they knew there was nothing else around so this was just the place to save people from walking at night without finding any food.
We went back to our hostel and it’s surprisingly on the futon and the tatami floor that I had the best sleep I ever had so far. I don’t know if I have to thank the onsen or the whole atmosphere for that, but damn, it was well appreciated!