Travel Reports by scarreddragon view profile of scarreddragon

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August 25, 2015 - Southern Kyushu: Ibusuki and Kirishima

I visited the prefectures of Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Miyazaki in a week-long vacation to Southern Kyushu. After spending some time in Kagoshima City, we first headed South to Ibusuki to try the famous sand bath onsen, then back North to Kirishima to stay at the Sakura-Sakura onsen for another interesting bath of mud. The next morning, we visited Kirishima Shrine before heading into Kumamoto.

Because we spent the morning seeing spots that we weren't able to visit the previous day due to rain, we really only had time to do the sand bath in Ibusuki as we were due to check into our ryokan at about 6pm. There are some really nice spots in the area that we weren't able to stop and visit, but the sand baths alone were worth the trip south!

This is the Saraku Sand Bath Hall as seen from the beach. After parking (it's free!), you walk up to the second floor and buy your tickets. You'll also rent a yukata and get a small towel if you haven't brought one, as well as having the option to rent a large towel. Then, head into the onsen to change into your yukata, grab the small towel and your camera, and head down to the beach.

During low tide and good weather, the sand bath happens on the beach closer to the water, however during high tide (when I went) or bad weather, you can still enjoy the baths in this hut.

Once arriving at the beach, you'll be directed to a spot and covered with sand by one of the workers, who will also kindly take a few pictures of you buried in the sand, just when you can't fight back.

It's like a rather heavy sauna... after 10-20 minutes, or however much you can stand, you arise from the sand zombie-like (or baby sea turtle like, your choice) and try to brush all that sand off.

You wont be able to, so head back up to the baths, throw your yukata into the shoot, and grit your teeth as you poor the (refreshingly!) cold water on you to wash off the rest of the sand. Then run into the nice, warm onsen to complete your experience.

It's fun!

We would have spent more time in and around Ibusuki except for our late start, so we just drove through some of the spots, taking the scenic route up to Kirishima. This is Kaimondake, and we also saw Lake Ikeda before getting down to the business of beating our navi's projected arrival time and cursing our kei car's tiny engine as it chugged up and down the hills.

We arrived at Sakura Sakura onsen right on time, and checked into our small cabin. The onsen has several different room types clustered around two central buildings, so booking through their website was extremely confusing. We ended up getting a small 2-4 person cabin, which was about 200 meters from the main buildings. Although the rooms are a little shabby, the dinner and breakfast was excellent, and not only was the main onsen very nice, our cabin was close to a small private onsen that anyone could use without reserving it.

This private onsen was great, but my favorite part was definitely the mud bath. You can forget about all those times your mother told you not to play in the mud and get dirty. Stick your hands in that mud, plug up your nose (it's actually pretty smelly...), and smear it all over you! This slightly radioactive mud will leave you glowing in no time!

The next morning, after another quick dip in the private onsen, we headed to Kirishima Shrine. This year is the 300th anniversary of the shrine being moved and rebuilt in its present location, so the shrine has several construction projects going on and many improvements planned. The parking lot is still a mess, but the buildings near the shrine which host a toilet, souvenir shop, and small restaurant, are nice and brand new.

Also in the works are new paths, including a more handicap-accessible ramp, and several new or rebuilt shrine buildings. Once its done, the shrine will be really wonderful to visit!

Unfortunately, during our visit the construction was still in progress. They were redoing the path right in front of the shrine, which made the atmosphere seem very peaceful in photos, but not so much in real life.

From Kirishima, we swung by Ebino Kogen, but didn't want to hike or pay the parking fee just to see it, so we skipped it and drove on to Kumamoto.

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List of Posts:
2016/04/24 - Mitsuhiko Imamori Paper Cut Works Exhibit in Takasaki
2015/11/19 - Shiobara Onsen, Tochigi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Miyazaki City
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Nichinan Coast and Cape Toi
2015/08/30 - Southern Kyushu: Takachiho, Miyazaki
2015/08/27 - Southern Kyushu: Kumamoto Castle
2015/08/25 - Southern Kyushu: Ibusuki and Kirishima
2015/08/24 - Southern Kyushu: Kagoshima City, Kagoshima
2015/08/03 - Tambara Lavender Park
2015/07/13 - Event: Eco Edo Nihonbashi Art Aquarium
2015/05/01 - Kanna-machi Koi-no-Bori Festival
2015/05/01 - Wisteria Festival in Fujioka
2014/11/15 - Sakurayama Koen: Fall Colors and Winter-blooming Cherry Blossoms
2014/11/15 - Ueno-mura Sky Bridge and Fall Colors
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 1: Gifu City and Gujo Caves
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 2: Gujo City and Shirakawa-go
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 3: Hida Takayama
2014/07/02 - Rainy Season around Tokyo: Hydrangea Flowers
2014/05/27 - Road Trip: Yamadera, Yamagata
2014/05/26 - Road Trip: Yonezawa, Yamagata
2014/05/19 - Roadtrip Fukushima's Ouchijuku
2014/05/16 - Roadtrip: Aizu-Wakamatsu
2014/04/30 - Climbing Gunma's Mt. Myogi
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 2: Tokyo Report
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 1: Gunma Plums
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 1
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 2
2013/10/30 - Cosmos and Mt. Myogi
2013/10/01 - Fall Flowers: Higanbana
2012/12/01 - Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen
2012/11/18 - Annual Coco Harvest Festival
2012/11/11 - Ueno Cat cafe ''Nekomaru''
2012/11/10 - Tokyo Design Festa vol.36 at Odaiba
2012/11/04 - Utsunomiya, Tochigi Gyoza Festival