By ship from Busan to Fukuoka, leaving South Korea and entering the magic of Japan. Dancing robots, rare action figures and wild camping in Shinto shrines
After two months in South Korea is time to finally leave this friendly country and sail to the land of our dreams, Japan.
At the port of Busan, where we just have been a week ago to ask about the ferry ticket to Fukuoka, there is no longer any port. Everything is dismantled. We ask the workers, the new port is a little further, fortunately only a couple of kilometers.
The port’s hall is bigger than the one in Qingdao, from where we took the ferry from China to South Korea. Nice surprise, the bikes are now free! We don’t know why, probably just for today. Lucky strike.
Overall we pay 43€ each, a great deal!
We meet two bicycle travelers, whom we already met in Bishkek some 5 months ago. When you say “small world.”
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The ship is beautiful by our standards, there are a bar, a restaurant, and a big lounge. The cheapest sleeping quarters are tatami rooms where a maximum of 8 persons sleep on the comfortable and clean floor.
Pillows and blankets are provided. But what really amazes us is that on the ship there are Japanese baths.
We immediately take advantage, what a beauty! Large tubs of hot water and big windows overlooking the sea. I wouldn’t mind the crossing to last a little longer…
We arrive in the early morning in Fukuoka. We are in Japan! Precisely in Kyushu, the southernmost of the main islands of the Japanese archipelago. Here we found hospitality for a couple of days.
We have all day to check all the highlights of Fukuoka while waiting for our hosts to come back from work. Again English teachers.
The city has nothing special but is cute, it strikes us to see a lot of very young children going out alone, crossing the road. Let’s go to a place called Robot Square, here at fixed times (11 am, 2 pm and 4 pm) there’s a free show with robots. Yes, we are in Japan!
The guys who are hosting us live in a beautiful two-story house and we have a room all to ourselves. We cook a risotto with asparagus, a little salty.
They are passionate about wine and we drink two bottles at once. In recent years they have been teaching English in Egypt and have been here just for a few months, they’re pretty traumatized by the change of country.
We’re here to relax a couple of days, only mission: buying adapters for electrical outlets, we didn’t think of that. Going to the supermarket, we realize that Japan is not at all as expensive as everyone thinks.
Of course, it is not a cheap place, but not more expensive than Italy. Indeed, several things in the supermarket are cheaper. And of course, far less than in Korea. But the fruit… the fruit is out of the question.
robot dogs performing Michael Jackson
After these two days as citizens, we leave Fukuoka, heading to Kumamoto. On the way, we are hopelessly attracted by a store for real Otaku.
We enter and is the apotheosis of vintage action figures (puppets from Anime or TV series from the 50s , 60s, 70s), rare manga, T-shirts with naked ladies and other collectors’ items, prices are stellar. However, we remain hypnotized for a while.
When we get out of the shop, it’s already afternoon. We escape from the city and, before the beginning of a climb, we stop at a Shinto shrine (Jinja). Inside there definitely lives a monster, we can feel the presence. It seems like a very old temple.
Near there is a sort of gazebo where they hung the photos of people who have contributed to the construction of the temple. We get to sleep there, there are also electrical plugs and bathrooms. Sleeping in Shinto shrines seems a great free camping option for bikepackers in Japan.
The next morning here comes the climb, very beautiful, surrounded by bamboo forests, vegetation is completely different compared to Korea. A part of the road is a toll sort of highway, not busy at all. For the bike about 1€.
Then begins an extremely busy plain, the positive part is that we discover the existence of discount food stores, they are places that sell mainly soaps and cosmetics but have a smaller section of food for very cheap.
They have, for example, already cooked udon (that are very easily used as spaghetti) for 17 yen (130 yen it’s 1 euro) plus 1 euro ready-made tomato sauce. Not bad I would say, dinner is served.
Tonight we sleep in another jinja. This one looks abandoned but I’m sure that there lives an old woman with a white cat (I mean the God). Fortunately, we are sheltered because there comes an impressive storm.
Continuous thunders and buckets of water from the sky. We just have to sleep. We start late when the rain seems to be over. After a little more plain we arrive at the sea, that is brown here. No swimming.
The sun comes out again, we find a duct in the marina and take a shower. We cross the Japanese countryside finally, so many cute little villages full of canals and small temples and beautiful cemeteries and terraced fields.
We arrive near Kumamoto and we sleep in a shrine again, this is new and a little fancy but it seems no god lives here (Elena is a psychic if you have not yet figured out). Tomorrow we’ll start our bike tour of the Amakusa archipelago.
Below is the complete map of our bicycle trip to Kyushu. It’s the complete GPS recording of the journey.
Click on the track to get the elevation profile, you can also use the search tool to find a specific location and display the GPX track of reference.
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