(Reading time: 9 - 18 minutes)

Spotter Trip to JapanShortly after my trip in 2005 I decided never to come back to Japan again. Never ever...
The reason for this lay mainly in navigation difficulties (to find a place to sleep), bad weather towards the end of the trip and the infamous "Matsusaka police incident".
However, looking back at the trip some time later, Japan is a country where so many things are completely different to the way we (Europeans) are used to it, and nevertheless everything is usually running very enjoyable and smooth, so harmonic and colorfull - like the way their aircraft are painted.
All of this, combined with the drive to find out how Japan feels with some of the knowledge learnt the last time, led me to the decision to go there a second time

This time the main target are the shows at Nyutabaru and Naha, and hopefully I will find some time in between Sushi, hot baths and taking photos to write some lines here!

After a ~12h flight from Munich we arrived quite well at Tokyo-Narita. Sleeping during the flight was ok due to the nice Lufthansa service including already the first tastes of Japan and some drinks... After picking up our luggage at the airport our two stepladders attracted the attention of the customs officer, but everything went really smooth. As did the transfer to Haneda for our connecting flight to Fukuoka. We quickly found the counter of the Limousine Bus Service (not actually a limousine...) and 3000Y pP and 5 minutes later we were on the way. Without a traffic jam we arrived at Tokyo’s national airport around 75 minutes later.

Checking-in for the flight was ok due the nice ANA ladies, who had their uniforms already decorated for Christmas. All this gave us even enough time to go to the visitors deck and take some photos. The weather was OK at first with temperatures a lot warmer than originally expected, but also with quite a strong wind. The wind was also the reason that we saw the first ‚crossed arms’ (a typical Japanese expression to say „NO“) shortly afterwards: the visitors deck was closed, obviously just minutes before we could have photographed another special coloured JAL B767-300. Well, anyway we took the photos through the windows and went to our gate afterwards. As no meals were expected during the 1h30min flight to Fukuoka we got a Sushi box and a green tea at a shop. The departure was already delayed for around ten minutes, and the ladies at the counter bowed several times to excuse for this.

When we finally got on-board the B767-300, we saw that the aircraft was nearly full, but the seat pitch was, contrary to what we have expected, really comfortable. At least for a 90min lasting flight… The departure was delayed due to heavy thunderstorms that hit the airport when we had just boarded the plane. And they also brought many clouds, who were the reason the we missed once again an opportunity to see Mt. Fuji. A last and final chance to do so will be the last days in Tokyo during this trip. Getting the rental car at FUK is another story: we had to pick our Hertz-booked car up at a Toyota shop, which caused some confusion at first.
Then followed the usual procedure with the handing over of the Japanese translation of our drivers license, and how to get the car started… Somehow I couldn’t her the engine when starting to drive, which is no wonder as it is a hybrid car. But that we learned many kilometers later on the motorway. Driving to Beppu was the same as we experienced driving through Japan in 2005: in the night, on an empty motorway, with 80km/h… But this time we managed to operate the navigation system as you can even enter a phone number and it leads you to the destination. Quite a useful feature to get to the booked hostel, our – in our case – Ryokan.
The place at Beppu, a town on the Eastern coast of Kyushu, is very famous for its hot springs and the place is said to be the most active volcanic region of the world. Everywhere around the city hot water with ~40-50C is coming out the earth. Therefore also nearly every place has also a hot bath.
Our typical Japanese hostel even had three, and we used them well before going to bed after the long journey. Hopefully the weather will get better during the next days, because today we even had some slight snow showers, the forecast for tomorrow announced snow in Northern Kyushu and our rental car company provided us with snow chains… Nyutabaru, we are coming!

 

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