I am back in Japan! Last year when I was here I used a blog to keep a record of where I’d been and what I’d seen. So, having come back I thought I’d do the same again this time. My first four days in the country were spent on a small island where the wifi was let’s say patchy, so I’ve a bit of catching up to do.
I did think of going someplace else this year, but to be honest I had such a good time in Japan last year, I felt I hadn’t quite had my fill of the place. This year I’m going to a mix of new places and ones I visited on my last trip – I’m spending a good couple of days in Osaka this year, as I thought it was brilliant last year. Hopefully it won’t let me down!
Last year I started off at a resort on a small island in the South of Japan – it was a chance for me to unwind after a manic year at work, and seemed to do the trick, so I followed the same format this year, and booked three nights at the Sankara Hotel Hotel on Yakushima island.
The trip to be absolutely honest was pretty horrific. I was up at 4am on Wednesday morning to fly to Heathrow from Belfast. Then came a 12 hour flight to Tokyo. I hadn’t slept at all the night before the flight, but even so I only managed to grab two hours napping on the flight. So by the time I landed on Thursday morning local time in Tokyo, I was pretty tired. I had a three hour layover at Haneda airport, but things went a bit wrong when I discovered the transfer desk to domestic flights was closed. So I had to lug my suitcase to the next terminal. Where I went to the wrong part of the building, and was sent to the complete other side of the terminal. Not a great start!
I then had two flights before I reached Yakushima. One to Kagoshima, and then my fourth and last flight on a small propeller plane to reach Yakushima. The airport as you can see in the picture below was very small! But 26 hours after leaving Belfast, I was finally at my first destination.
The skies were laden with heat as I was met by a driver from the hotel. It was about 27 degrees, but the air was humid. On the 40 minute journey to the hotel I was a mix of exhausted and intrigued. The island was much, much bigger than Taketomi island which I visited last year, but weirdly felt more remote. The one village we passed through seemed to consist of sparsely laid out ramshackle buildings. And petrol stations.
Also, you couldn’t fail to notice how green and mountainous the island is. Apparently 93% of it is covered in forest, and it’s home to some specific wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else. Monkeys and deer run free – although I didn’t see any on our journey.
Finally we reached the hotel – tucked away in a forest like a James Bond baddie’s lair. I was given a very welcome Mimosa and quizzed about how I wanted to spend the next few days, before being taken to my room. It was lovely. I could hardly keep my eyes open by this point, so after half-heartedly pulling some stuff out of my bag, I lay down for a sleep for an hour, then got showered and dressed for dinner.
First thing I noticed on walking up to the main building is that roads can be a lot steeper than they look. I felt like the path was at a 80 degree angle, but I’m sure that’s not quite the case.
Dinner was pretty incredible – starting with an amuse bouche of bread with beef – with the bread nestled in the branches of a bonsai tree. Hello! After an hour or so – and four courses – I stumbled back down the hill in the darkness, entered the villa and collapsed into bed. Where annoyingly I had a very weird dream which seemed to keep me up half the night. Still! Tomorrow was another day. I was back in the land of the rising sun!