Leaving Aso, I caught one of only three trains a day that make the trip to Beppu. We traveled through some of the most beautiful scenery I have yet seen in Japan. Dense forests, green rice paddies, and deep rivers were the norm. It was pretty amazing. As for Beppu itself, some cities have a purpose, and Beppu's is getting clean, it is the onsen capital of Japan. From large, glitzy hotels to small public baths, Beppu has it all.
Being that I had spent some hours on trains and busses, not to mention walking around a sulpherous crater, I was in dire need of a bath. I checked into an almost full hotel, they had to give a triple bed room larger than my apartment! The next stop was dinner, as I hadn't had a chance to eat lunch on the mountain. Well unless you consider ice cream bars to be lunch... Luckily the hotel had three intergral restaurants, which was fine by me, I didn't feel like doing any more walking than neccesary.
As I tucked into a big bowl of marble tofu at the Chinese restaurant, I met a small group of college kids, and we struck up a conversation. They were here on a two week trip/homestay visit to Kuyshu and Kyoto and were on there last night in Beppu. They were going to Karaoke later in the evening, would I like to come? It was like offering an addict a fix, I'm always up for Karaoke! It turned out that there were a lot more than just 4 in the group though, I met many many people. It was fun, but I was kind of shocked just how.. immature they were. Still and all, it was a great night, certainly better than sittin in my room watching Patriot Games subbed into Japanese.
I awoke the next morning with the intention of hopping a few onsen baths and checking out the geothermal "boiling hells of Beppu." What I found was pouring, drenching rain. I was pretty tired from the hard day and the late night, and I was not looking forward to hiking through an all day Kyushu gullywasher just so I could keep getting wet! So I decided to just pack it up and make the epic journey back home. And it was pretty epic, two hours by express to the Shinkansen line, three hours to Osaka, then three more to Kanazawa. I made each connection with seconds to spare, which was nice for keeping long waits to a minimum, but it also kept me unfed till I made it home.
So here it is, the itinerary and a good view of just how far we traveled in those 5 days. Kyushu may be a lot smaller than Honshu, but it is still pretty big. Much bigger than I had actually expected! Well it was a great trip, and I really hope I can make it back down there, especially points further south like Kagoshima, the Venice of Japan. (Who comes up with these names?)
Next: Japanese numbers and dancing in the streets.