28 October 2008

A year ago or so I had bought "The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories" by Theodore W. Goossen. It contains 35 famous old and contemporary short stories from Japanese literature, translated into English. One of the stories is "Unzen" by Endo Shusaku, which tells the tale of a man travelling to Unzen after he had read a historical book about how Christian people had been tortured using the steaming hot water from the hot springs there. As it was on the way from Nagasaki to Kumamoto (if you take train, ferry and bus) I thought it might be interesting to see. Also some pictures at Google earth looked quite ok, so I made a detailed plan spending lots of time figuring out the best trains and buses to take and which ferry to take (all connections were quite horrible with only a few buses a day), but finally it worked out according to plan.

And, believe it or not, on the way there I saw Obama!

So this is the picturesque city of Obama, meaning small harbor in Japanese. Later I saw some footage on CNN or so where they actually showed that the people of this Japanese city were also campaigning for "their" candidate :-)

This is Unzen, where the sulphor smoke comes out of the road

From the Bus center at Unzen I dropped my luggage and took the shuttle bus to Nita-touge. At Nita-touge there is a ropeway upto a viewpoint. From there I climbed the Kunimidake and Fugendake. Although maybe still a little early, the autumn colors were very nice, especially in the valley between Kunimidake and Fugendake.

This is Japan's newest mountain (Heisei) Shinsan seen from Kunimidake. It developped during eruptions in the 1990s. It is not allowed to go there because of toxic gasses.

Panorama from Kunimidake

The hells of Unzen

The memorial for the Christians who were tortured here using the steaming hot spring water.

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