Friendly Fukuoka - Ryumon Falls, Aso Farmland and Kumamoto Castle

This will be a long post as it covers the first field trip and the opening ceremony of the Fall semester. So I apologize in advance for the many photos and long texts! Hang in there ;)

On sunday morning we gathered at the International Student Centre. We were going by bus on a two day 'Welcome Trip'. The highways in the city are built up high, very different from those back in the Netherlands which are just ground level, so we had a nice view over the city and the sea on one side and mountains on the other side of the city. What a view. I can't believe I managed to go to a beautiful place like this and felt very lucky.

After a fun but also slightly sleepy bus ride we arrived at our first destination, Ryumon Falls. At these waterfalls usually a shinto ritual takes place, which is the ritual of purification. The thought is that by standing onder the falling water your impurities will be washed away along with the water. But the stones are very slippery and dangerous so we weren't allowed to climb them. We could go in the safer part of the water, but it was crowded and with my camera I didn't want to take the risk. It was a beautiful place in the nature and it oozed tranquility.

We ate lunch in a restaurant near the waterfall. It was traditional style; we had to sit on the ground and the food we ate was some kind of soup with noodles, smoked fish and unidentifiable vegetables. The restaurant was very quaint and cute and it was nice to experience a real rural and traditional place like this.

And some photos made by the staff and friends :)

Selfie stick!

We then continues our bus ride through rice plantages, quaint villages and way up to the mountains. The nature in Kyushu is so impressive, it feels so organic, like it has been like this for thousands of years. The second place we visited that day was Kokonoe suspension bridge, which is the biggest in Japan according to our teacher. I never walked on a suspension bridge like this. The fact that it slightly swinger from left to right was interesting. Not for the faint of heart though. The views were spectacular as was to be expected. On the other side of the bridge some of us ate some soft ice-cream. It's not as good as the ones back home, but they are delicious anyway and ice-cream is always welcome. One of my friends brought a 'selfie-stick' with her. It's a trend in Asia lately, but I never saw one in real life. And it is actually a very useful thing! Making group pictures has never been easier. After this trip I am convinced that I should get one too...

At the end of the day we went even further into the mountains until we stopped at our 'hotel'. It is a facility that belongs to our university with sleeping rooms, a gym, conference rooms, a cafetaria and hot spring baths. Soon after we arrived we had another short information session until dinner was served. We got some curry with rice and fried chicken. It was an easy meal but I really liked it. I just love curry. In the evening we had free time! I had an appointment with one of the professors about my bachelor paper, but after that I want to the gym. It was just a big sports hall just like back in elementary and high school. We played badminton, basketball, volleyball and things like that. It felt good to do some exercise after all those days without any exercise and eating a lot of food. And the reward; soaking in a hot spring bath. At first I wasn't sure about going because it is scary to be naked in front of strangers. But I just went at a time when it was quiet and together with a friend we said we just look away from each other haha. But it wasn't all too bad!

After a relaxing soak in the bath we went up to our rooms and chatted for a while until the other came back from the gym and the bath. We then gathered with a big group in the hallway and played games and chatted until late in the evening. It really felt like a bonding trip. And the hotel had great wifi so I finally got the chance to Skype with my parents, even though it was just for a short while and it was a chaos with all the noise in the hallway. But it was such a fun evening.

Next morning I had to get up early even though I hadn't slept at all. There was just so much noise and it was hot and generally I can't sleep well with a lot of people around me. But I wanted to make this day another good one so I ignored the fact that I was dead tired. After breakfast and packing our things we continues our trip. We went up the mountains again to go to Mt. Aso. On the highlands of Mt. Aso we got of the bus. The first thing we saw there was a performance by a monkey. The monkey was so cute, but it was also very sad to see. It was so scared and confused. But moving on.... There was an awesome view over the valley beneath Aso. There is a lot of farmland there, and you could see it neatly divided in rectangles of all the same size. As someone from the Netherlands, mountains and views like this still impress me endlessly. After a bunch of group photos we headed to the valley of Aso.

There we reached Aso Farmland which is basically a huge supermarket complex with 'local products'. I was expecting fresh fruits and vegetables, but it was the typical Japanese sweets and other products packed in their pretty packages. These packages are so gorgeous but I was hoping for fresh products. They also sold some ice-cream and other home-made products though. I went to take a look at the cheeses (I miss cheese!) but the prices made me want to cry. Everything was too expensive there so I didn't buy anything in the end.  When everyone was back in the bus we headed to Kumamoto, for the castle but first lunch! The lunch was really nice and we all got a mini-stove which was so cute. And again it was kind of a traditional lunch which was nice. What was even better; the focus was on meat and not fish this time.

With our bellies full we made a short bus trip to Kumamoto Castle. This castle was on my bucket list for Japan, so I was happy to go there! Sadly we only had an hour there so we kind of had to rush through the place. What makes Kumamoto Castle so special is it's black exterior. The rest, well, I wouldn't know well. I didn't pick up much information there because I didn't have time to read the information signs. Instead, just enjoy the photos :)

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  1. Wow such a long post, I read it all so I deserve a cookie :P. But you visited some wonderful and beautiful places during your trip! It was definitely worth it even if you didn't get that much sleep. How did you manage to eat the fish? Aww and too bad they didn't sell fresh products at the supermarkt T_T that sucks. I can totally feel you, I miss cheese as well when I don't have it here. Luckily I've found a supermarket here that actually sells Dutch old cheese haha, I'm so happy! I wish I could send you some.. but that probably won't work. The least I can do is send you real chocolate :P.

    Oh I'm so proud of you, doing sports and stuff. God I'm way too lazy. The only thing I do is walk to the subway and university and sometimes a walk in the forest when I am at my grandmothers house :P, lazy lazy me. I should get more exercise as well eheh. The castle looks so amazing by the way, too bad you just had an hour to visit it.. that's quite short. Well maybe you can redo your visit again in the future :).
    Oh my a selfie stick.. that actually exist?! Gosh whyyyy :P. It's funny though, but no I'll stick with my phone for selfies xD.

    How lovely you were able to visit the opening ceremony, at least you visited it now. And wow you already did a lot of karaoke and shopping, you will get broke because of the 100 yen shop, it's dangerous!! I love those shops, but I always end up by waaaay spending too much money on useless things I don't need :P. Ohh and finally internet, that's important of course! I'm glad it all works and that you're finally settled there and organized everything :).
    You're torturing me by the way too much with your food photos, I'm starving at the moment haha :')

  2. OMG, you do deserve a cookie! Too bad I already sent my letter to you, I will include a cookie next time hehe.
    Yup, it was more than worth not sleeping! I didn't eat the fish, took one bite and then just let it sit there haha.
    Ohhh, do send me real chocolate please?? I am dying without cheese and chocolate hahaha. Ok, not dying because there is enough awesome food here, but I still get cravings for cheese and chocolate :P

    Yeahh, I was so proud of myself too! But in these three weeks I only sported three times, so I am not doing that good either haha. But I do walk and ride the bicycle a lot, so that's good I guess. I should get more serious about exercising as well. I lost some weight in the first weeks here, but because of all the food I am gaining it back again I think haha. An hour is definitely too short, but as you said, a future visit is always welcome!
    Selfie stick yeah! You put your iPhone on it and ta-dah, you're ready to make good selfies XD It's really useful to take group photos with!

    I know, I already spent a lot of money! But I needed to buy everything for my room from scratch; spoons, cups, shampoo, laundry stuff, cleaning stuff, decorations. You really need a lot of things to have a proper household XD So a lot of shopping was needed! And I really contained myself because I didn't buy many cute things, clothing, accessories and books yet, so I am really proud!
    Yay for internet and settling down! Although I am still sooo busy!
    Yeah, I torture myself too when looking at them, I just ate lunch but wanna eat again xD