What Happens in Kyushu Stays in Kyushu (Because I Can’t Photograph it Anyways): Part I

A grandfather is looking after his grandchildren on a beach in Kagoshima. The children are having a blast in the sand, and the sun isn’t hiding behind the clouds. Their joy is matched by the radiant light. A lion-hearted little one jumps into the water in the blink of an eye while her family watches her—there is not a speck of worry on their faces. I watch this from afar because I know happiness is like a timid animal: it will run away if I get too close. 

Fukiage Beach, Kagoshima

The part of photography that most intimidates me is the reality that you must get close to the subjects you are photographing to portray them well. I can’t do it because I feel that buildings, people, mountains, forests, rivers will simply evaporate or else fly away if I approach them. And I’m not a good photographer—hence my attempts to write blog posts to compensate for my lack of Instagram-worthy photos. 

I sensed Kyushu was an extra timid subject. Everything seemed so fragile and yet so beautiful. That is one of the reasons I took fewer photos of it compared to my past trip locations. I was also determined to make the most of my journey and stop focusing on sharing every moment on social media. Although I almost caved at some point, I at least succeeded in curbing my desire to post photos instantly. 

Writing chronologically or not?

I first thought of journaling my 8-day trip chronologically, but the thought of it bored me to death. How would others feel reading a blog post that I myself got bored writing? I know I should be more organized to be a blogger: my scatterbrain screams from within and distracts me whenever I sit down to write. 

Instead, I’m leaving the semi-chronological story of my (mis)adventures here to silence the voice in my head—the one that nags me to write more efficiently. Brace yourself for the least organized but the most heartwarming experience we have ever had in Kyushu! 

Day 1: Kobe—Fukuoka

It took us more than 8 hours to arrive in Fukuoka. There were heavy rain alerts everywhere in Kyushu that day, and so my husband and I were worried about the fate of our journey. It was one of the worst Fukuoka nights a visitor could have chosen to experience the city. The famous night markets and food stalls were gone with the wind, and the few restaurants we could find open that night were only mediocre. 

We walked in the city’s center for a while, but the rain was pouring on us mercilessly. The rain and hunger got on our nerves, eventually leading us to bicker over whose brilliant idea it was to visit Kyushu during the rainy season. We ate at a chain restaurant and spent an arm and a leg for average yakitori (a Japanese dish of chicken pieces grilled on a skewer). 

Takashi chatted with the friendly taxi driver on our way to the hotel. The driver told us that usually there were many food stalls at the night markets, but they must have decided to stay closed that day because of the rain. He also told us that the Fukuoka night market wasn’t what it used to be. On a side note, I love it when Takashi talks to random people about random subjects and gets insider information for me in Japanese. 

Our hotel was lovely, our sole consolation that night. I thought our trip was cursed and that an invisible force was warning us to return home. Takashi was exhausted from driving and disappointed that he couldn’t enjoy his ideal Fukuoka night. He agreed that we should return home if the weather didn’t improve the following morning. 

I’m glad we slept on it because the following days proved us wrong: the invisible force wanted us to stay in Kyushu for a week after all. 

Day 2: Fukuoka—Saga—Hirado Island—Sasebo

Waking up to another rainy day broke our spirits. We were supposed to head to Nagasaki that day, but the city was experiencing a heavy rain. Still, Takashi was one step ahead of the weather forecast and its news of atmospheric doom. He informed me that the weather was improving north of Kyushu, which encompasses Nagasaki’s Hirado Island. 

Going to Hirado Island was not in our itinerary (if we had any itinerary at all). Takashi said we could spend the afternoon on Hirado Island and wait for the weather to improve before our hotel check-in in Nagasaki City. Brilliant as it may sound, it was a risky plan. But because the only other choice meant returning to Kansai, we decided to go with it anyways. 

That morning, we had no plans to stop in Saga Prefecture. Ahem, I mean, I did, but Takashi was unaware of my secret desire to stop in for a visit. I told him I once received a postcard from a foreigner in Saga and was told how lovely it was, so I begged him to make a brief stop there and hoped he would cave. Luckily he did! As we watched lush rice terraces looming in the distance, we knew visiting Saga was the right decision! But, again, it wasn’t in our plan. 

Rice terraces, Saga

We spent that morning in Karatsu—a castle town in Saga. It’s famous for its Karatsu Kunchi festival—an annual festival that runs at the beginning of November. And, according to resources, their accompaniment while carrying a hikiyama (a type of float made of paper mache) is “Yoisa!” and it is one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. (I’m now curious to find out the other sounds of Japan.)

Karatsu Castle, Saga

We left for Hirado Island in the afternoon and saw it was sunny! What were the odds of Hirado being sunny while it was raining cats and dogs in Nagasaki? Hirado once was the bastion of trade between Japan and the West. It’s also one of the places linked to hidden aspects of Christian history. Nowadays, it seems to be a lovely island harboring historical sites, lush rice terraces, and chanpon restaurants. 

Hirado Island

Dutch Trading Post, Hirado Island

Rice terraces, Hirado Island

St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church, Hirado Island

Hitotsuku Beach, Hirado Island

After that, we headed toward Sasebo, where the Kujuku Islands can be observed from the top of a mountain. Kujuku means 99 in Japanese. They say there are actually over 200 islands out there, but apparently saying “99” is cooler than saying “200” in Japanese. There, we watched a warm sunset from an observatory. Takashi took a blurry photo of me that made me roll my eyes so hard that I worried they would disappear into the back of my head. I told him I would post it to the blog to show people the stark difference between the photos I take of him and the ones he takes of me. 

Kujuku Islands, Sasebo

The stark difference between the photos I take of him and the ones he takes of me. 

Well, what do you think? I will not be that harsh on him this time because he is the sweetest. He tolerates my randomness and lets me lead him astray during our journeys. I forget the number of times I have given him the wrong directions, literally and figuratively. Besides, he happens to be a great driver, and I don’t drive at all. Niceness seems to be the only option here. 

Back to the story! I mean, the wandering tale of our unplanned adventures. After watching the sunset, we went to Nagasaki City to check in at our hotel. It was cloudy in Nagasaki that night, and, honestly, we didn’t know what to expect the following day. We were dead tired after visiting three places in just one day, but content. “Whatever happens next, let’s make sure it’s as random as today!” I sighed before sleeping. 

If I had known I would need better weather on our third day, I would have wished for that too before I went to bed!

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  1. kagould17

    Your story and photos are fine. We were on Kyushu in 1985 and enjoyed the place, albeit a bit drier then. I just wish I had my current camera then. Looking forward to Part 2.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahanur

      Thank you so much, and I’m glad you enjoyed your trip back in 1985. Part 2 is coming soon 🙂


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