Saturday, May 05, 2007

Golden Week

Golden Week is one of the three major holidays in Japan. Mazda has the week off, so we decided to explore the southern island of Kyushu.
First we packed as much stuff as you could fit into the car.

Next we set the navigation-system.

Our first stop for lunch was a steak house. Americana is kind of funny. The restaurant has a Canadian flag a Confederate flag and a zebra skin. Not really sure how this all goes together, but the steak was good.

Hemohalo Camp Jo

Our first camp site for our trip was the Hemohalo Camp Jo. It was about a 30 min drive from Aso-san, which in our opinion is a good distance to be from an active volcano. When we first arrived there was no one at the camp. Later that day a hand full of people showed up to rent one of the cabins. There was one older gentleman who took care of the grounds. We tried to pay him a few time but could not translate why he would not take the money. In the end we left an envelope with the $10 ($5 per night) we owed. I hope the right person got it.

We had the entire campground to ourselves for awhile.

There was a nice river running next to the camp ground the kids really liked to play in.

The trails that started at the camp ground went up one of the local peaks. We had fun climbing part of the trail. It was a little rugged for Hailey so we had to turn back after a while.


I have always wanted to see an active volcano and this vacation was my first opportunity. Aso-san is the largest active caldera in the world.

When we first got to the summit village we were told the toxic gasses where too high so we were not allowed to climb to the very top.

All we could see was the smoke rising.

We took some time to eat lunch.

Much to our surprise the wind shifted and the toxic gas level dropped and they opened the top.

This is a very popular location for bikers.

You have to love the blast shelters, just in case!!!

What toxic fumes?


We were very surprised when we finally scaled the crater and looked down. The caldera is actually blue green and yellow colored.

We made it at last.

This is the scale for the fumes.

The little Premacy (Mazda5) made it.

The Aso area looked much like Colorado. The large valleys and high peaks.

Sun Sky Hotel Kita Kyushu

During Golden Week hotel costs usually double and it can be hard to get reservations. The Sun Sky hotel was inexpensive and available so we should not complain. This was our first stay in a local budget hotel. We were told it would be small and they weren’t kidding. We had an extra bed which gave us about 6” between the three beds.

We really lucked out, the only night of rain for the whole trip and we were in the hotel instead of our tents.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Space World

Yes, Japan has American amusement parks. Disney is in Tokyo and Universal Studios is in Osaka, but we decided to try an original Japanese amusement park. Space World is like a mini-cedar point with a space theme. We went on the Tuesday of Golden Week with the theory that the local kids have school Tuesday and Wednesday so hopefully park attendance would be down. We were somewhat correct. There were very few kids on vacation with there families, however many schools were having field trips there.

The staff asked us to go in front of the school kids, so we were the second people to enter the park!!!

Check out all the kids sitting with there classes waiting for the gates to open.

Hailey with Twinkle Vicky.

Here we are with parks mascots Twinkle Lucky and Twinkle Vicky.

The lines were the shortest I have ever seen at an amusement park.

Nate and I were the first to ride the “Zaturn”. Cedar point calls it “Top Fuel Dragster”.


The kids all had to where there school uniforms. I saw one kid getting harassed by his friends because his tie wasn’t straight. It is hard to imagine going to a park in a suit and tie.

Many times during the day the school kids wanted to try out there English skills. It was like being a celebrity. The kids didn’t mind.

Check out the big mechanical animals. For a buck you get to drive them around. I know they are kind of creepy.