Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Japan Day Four: A Heavy Matter

I tried to have a light and healthy breakfast because I learned the night before that I already gained 4 pounds in the three days that I've been in Japan! FML :(
tomatoes, egg, potato bread, fish, and fish cake

After breakfast, we proceeded to Chiran City to visit the Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots. Chiran was the southernmost airbase for Kamikaze operations in Okinawa and it has now become the principal site where "brave young warriors who disappeared beyond the far horizon" are commemorated.

Kamikaze pilots were trained to fly on Kamikaze missions steering airplanes laden with bomb head into enemy ships. The Kamikaze planes never came back and it has been said that Kamikaze pilots must have loved Japan first since they were willing to die for flag and country.

The Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots was completed in 1987 and was founded in the hopes of achieving eternal peace on earth by showing future generations the ugly truths of war. 

What's Left of a Type 0 Fighter Aircraft

Here are some of the brave young men who honorably died for Japan. In total, 1,036 army pilots from Okinawa perished during the Kamikaze operations.

It's sad to see the Kamikaze pilots playing with the dog because it reminded me that they were all very young with whole lives ahead of them if only they chose not to accept the suicide missions. 
Corporal Yukio Araki, holding the puppy, died the following day this picture was taken, in a suicide attack on ships near Okinawa. He was 17.

Leaving the heaviness of the Kamikaze museum behind, we went to Chiran Gardens where samurais used to live. The residences reminded me of a  labyrinth with its stonewalls and hedges. 

The Chiran Gardens has won many accolades in the past such as being part of the 100 Most Beautiful Locations in Japan, 100 Best Walking Paths in Japan, and Best Community Townscape...

but all I remember from the visit is that the samurais took their gardening seriously. There are seven gardens in the area and all were selected as places of scenic beauty because the gardens apparently show excellence in design and bear a marked similarity to Ryukyu-style gardens, offering a clue on how the garden building culture was brought to Japan.
Sata Tamiko's Garden

With the Kamikaze museum and samurai residence visits done, it was time to have local specialty lunch at Amami-no-sato in Kagoshima. 

Strange: Sweet Potato Masquerading as Dragon fruit  (whatever the reason, I guess I'll never know)

Small Dish of Pork


Chicken flakes, shrimps, rice

Keihan Dish: Rice with Chicken and Soup Stock

Pork Tobanyaki

The Real Thing: Dragon fruit with lychee and orange

There is no dearth of beautiful gardens in Japan so it was not surprising that we went to another garden, Sengan-en, after lunch. 

Sengan-en is the garden villa of the Shimadzu family which was constructed in 1658. The garden is said to have the harmony of Japanese traditional beauty and the culture of China. Since it was autumn time in Japan, we were able to catch the Chrysanthemum Festival.

The main attraction of Sengan-en is the wonderful scenery of the garden with Sakurajima Mountain and Kinko Bay in the background. Too bad my picture didn't give it justice as always!

From Sengan-en, we took a 15 minute ferry ride to reach the Kagoshima Sakurajima Island for a close-up view of Sakurajima Mountain.

Sakurajima Mountain is a symbol of Kagoshima and is located in the sea about 4 km from the center of the city. Seeing Sakurajima Mountain was a beautiful experience because we got very very close to the mountain. The view was breathtaking and it was so easy to be transfixed by its magnificence.

Having had another full day, I was happy that our next destination was Ikirishima Kokusai Hotel, our home for the night.

It offers hot spring baths, but needing to be in our birthday suits, once again proved to be a problem.

I have to admit that Ikirishima Kokusai was my least favorite among the hotels we stayed in because the whole complex smelled like rotten eggs no thanks to the presence of sulfur in the area. It was just our luck that the rooms didn't have airconditioning so we couldn't close our windows, making it impossible to mask the foul odor.
Barely Breathing

Ikirishima Kokusai Hotel also holds the distinction of hosting the heaviest meal of the entire tour.
Restaurant for Dinner

We had what was called a Kirishima specialty style set and I can't believe they served these much food for a single person in just one sitting!
Appetizer 1: Combination of Unusual Things

Appetizer 2: Sashimi

Appetizer 3: Pastry Top with Treasures Inside

Appetizer 4: Small Croissant

Appetizer 5: Vegetables in Miso Sauce

Clear Soup

Miso Soup
Cup of Rice

Teppanyaki with Beef, Vegetables, and Scallop

Hot Noodle with Tempura

Pork for Shabu-Shabu

Fruits for Dessert

Plus a shot of sake to add to the number of reasons why I should not be surprised if I gained another 4 pounds with this dinner alone.


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