Over the weekend, I was just looking forward to spending time visiting Chiho and Kevin at their new home in Issa with Ching and Megan, but our time in the inaka (the countryside) left me feeling so satisfied and fulfilled! It was my first time going on a road trip in Japan and spending some time in rural Japan. Before this weekend, all my Japanese travels have been in big cities and on tropical islands. I really loved the calmness and serenity of inaka life. It reminded me a lot of New England, except there were tons of rice paddies instead of cow pastures.
So Megan and I took the ferry up Thursday night and ate our way around Kagoshima City until Ching was finished getting his Japanese license Friday afternoon.
My last picture with the Amu Plaza Ferris Wheel
On Saturday, we woke up early and hit the road for Miyazaki. Chiho and Kevin had generously planned a whole day for us!
First Stop: Aya Teruha Suspension Bridge
Second Stop: A Winery!
Third Stop: Chicken Nanban at a famous little nanban place in Miyazaki City!
Fourth Stop: Cape Toi to see wild horses!
The wild horses I really wanted to see were a two and a half journey from Chiho and Kevin’s place in Issa. (Thanks for driving, Kevin!) It was quite the beautiful coastal journey and windy road adventure to get there though.
But the first horses we encountered starting walking away as soon as we arrived…
And then we found a few grazing on the side of the road…
But since we drove so long and far out to the cape, we really wanted to see more than just this beautiful view.
So we decided to become wild horses ourselves and descend up the mountains in search of our brethren!
After Chiho took this picture of me, I thought I heard a distant whinny. I knew it had to be a) a wild horse, or b) just a wild Megan or Ching. So Chiho and I started walking some more…
Lo and behold! Just on the other side of the mountain, we spotted the wild beasts! The hills are alive with the sound of whinnies!
In order to find the wild horses of Cape Toi, my advice to you is to become a wild horse yourself. I kinda like that we had to put in some work to find the horses anyway. It made for a sweeter reward.
On Sunday, we rented magenta and lime green mamacharis and went out to explore the Issa inaka by bike! I just loved exploring the mountains and rice paddies and seeing just how different the ecosystem is compared to the Amami islands. The way I felt biking around Issa was the same feeling I had when I was in Kyoto for cherry blossom season:
“This is the Japan that I dreamed about.”
People leave their bad wishes at shrine, but I got to take my good fortune home with me!
I just look angry, not tough.
Lunch was Koi Fish teishoku: koi sashimi, fried koi, koi miso soup, and sweet and sour koi. (I didn’t even know it was possible to eat Koi, but we did it!)
Then I had to say goodbye to Kevin, Chiho, and the Totoros at the Kagoshima airport. :( I’m so lucky to have them in my life! (That includes Totoro too.)
It literally felt like just yesterday that Ching and I were at the airport waiting for our flight to Amami from Kagoshima after Tokyo Orientation. When it was happening, this year felt long. But now that’s it’s over, it feels like no time has passed by. Does that make sense?
It’s all good. I was very happy all weekend and didn’t feel sad until I had to say goodbye to Kevin and Chiho at the airport. As sad as it is to leave, I am just really happy that I’ve met so many wonderful human beings during my year in Japan. Friends that I know I will have forever. And I’ve been to so many beautiful places.
As my sister says, “you’re saying goodbye now, but pretty soon you’re going to be saying a lot of hellos.”
Two weeks from today, I begin my long journey home!