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The Challenges!Edit

Oita (大分県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit the Stone Buddhas in Usuki City

This group of Buddha figures carved out of the natural rock wall of a cliff, known as "Usuki Sekibutsu", was the first of its kind designated as a National Treasure. Usuki Sekibutsu are located in hills 4 km away from the downtown area. With more than 60 figures, it is one of the largest example of rock-carved images in Japan, and is believed to have been carved between the 12th century and the 14th centuries, that is, in the latter half of the Heian Period (797-1192) or the Kamakura Period (1192-1333).

USUKI CITY  臼杵市  (usuki shi)

STONE BUDDHAS   石仏  (sekibutsu)

Challenge 2: Visit Takasakiyama ("Monkey Mountain") in Beppu

Located on Route 10 towards Oita around 3kms from Higashi Beppu, this mountainside tourist attraction is home to around 1,700 monkeys, all living in their distinct communities. Beware to keep all loose objects tied down, or the little kleptos will make off with them, and whatever you do…DON’T…LOOK THEM…IN THE EYE!!! Entry is 500yen, Opening Hours: 0830-1700.

BEPPU CITY 別府市 (beppu shi)

MONKEY MOUNTAIN 高崎山 (takasakiyama)

Challenge 3: Visit a hot spring in Beppu

Beppu is nationally renowned as an Onsen city, surrounded by beautiful sea and mountains. To the east spreads out the gentle Beppu Bay, and to the west is Mount Tsurumi, which is part of the Aso-Kuju national park.

BEPPU CITY – 別府市 (beppu shi)

HOT SPRING – 温泉 (onsen)

Kumamoto (熊本県)Edit

Challenge 1: Get to the top of Mount Aso

The composite active volcano of Mt Aso lies almost in the centre of Kyushu Island and boasts the world’s largest caldera, stretching 11 miles (18km) from east to west and 15 miles (24km) from north to south. Inside the caldera are five volcanic peaks, with one of them, Naka-dake, still active and regularly emitting smoke and ash. Whilst there is a cable car, the 4minute ride can be a little expensive; maybe consider doing the 20minute stroll down!

SUMMIT OF MOUNT ASO 阿蘇山上  (aso sanjou)

ASO TOWN   阿蘇町 (aso machi)

Challenge 2: Visit Kumamoto Castle

One of the Three Famous Castles of Japan, this architectural masterpiece is said to be the finest work of Kiyomasa Kato, recognizable by the spreading curve of its protective walls. The Uto Tower and the 253-meter long castle wall have been designated important cultural monuments.

Open 0830-1730, Entry 500yen

KUMAMOTO CITY   熊本市  (kumamoto shi)

KUMAMOTO CASTLE  熊本城   (kumamoto jou)

Challenge 3: Take an onsen in Kurokawa

This beautiful valley town, with a population of a mere 412, is hidden in the winding roads between Mt.Aso and Oita and is one of the most famous and beautiful onsen areas in Japan. You can take your choice from the dozens of onsen styles available, from cave-side baths to a surprising number of private “family” onsen, many of them “Rotenburo”, (outdoor baths), at extremely reasonable prices. The tourist information centre also sells a multi-pass ticket, giving you access to any three baths of your choice for 1,200yen, and if you’re feeling extravagant, (maybe at the end of your Hitch), you can stay at one of the ryokan, (Japanese inn), with prices starting at 10,000yen per person.

MINAMI OGUNI VILLAGE 南小国町 (minami oguni machi)

KUROKAWA ONSEN 黒川温泉 (kurokawa onsen)

Miyazaki (宮崎県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit Takachiho Gorge

My personal highlight of both previous hitches, Takachiho is a sleepy, yet often tourist-filled mountain resort in idyllic surroundings. You will arrive and leave over two of the tallest road arch bridges in the country, and your challenge is to descend to the stunning gorge, (kyou), with its riverside walkway, cascading waterfall, and the chance to try out the expensive but highly amusing rowboats. Whilst in town, try to take in some of the history-laden shrines and sites, (Takachiho is the town where the Gods who created Japan first came down to earth, according to legend, of which there are many centred on Takachiho), and you won’t want to miss the kagura (traditional dance) which is shown every night of the year in Takachiho Shrine, (Takachiho Jinja, 20:00-21:00, 500yen – and an insider tip, it’s most fun if you sit in the front row!).

TAKACHIHO 高千穂 (takachiho)

TAKACHIHO GORGE 高千穂峡 (takachiho kyou)

Challenge 2: See the Wild Horses of Cape Toi

Cape Toi consists of 550 hectares of green fields, home to around 100 wild horses which have been designated a national natural monument. The view over the rolling hills down a steep decline to the ocean is dizzying and that alone is entirely worth a day trip.

The Visitor Centre is open daily from 0900-1700 every day, except Monday.

CAPE TOI 都井岬 (toi misaki)

Challenge 3: Visit the Udo Shrine, Nichinan City

Located inside a cave facing the sea, Udo shrine is said to be home to the spirit of the father of the first Emperor of Japan. Myths and legends abound here, mainly revolving around childbirth and marriage – for the superstitious, it's traditional to buy a packet of bizarre, nipple-shaped stones and throw them, wrong-handed, into the ‘shell’ of the tortoise shaped rock which the shrine overlooks. Good luck!

NICHINAN CITY   日南市   (nichinan shi)

UDO SHRINE 鵜戸神宮 (udo jinguu)

Kagoshima (鹿児島県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit the buried Torii at Sakurajima

Sakurajima is Japan's most active volcano and the symbol of Kagoshima. It smokes constantly, and minor eruptions take place frequently. Sakurajima's most recent, major eruption occurred in 1960. In a strong 1914 eruption, large amounts of lava transformed the former island into a peninsula, hence the misleading name, (it is quite clearly no longer an island, although neither have I ever seen any sakura there!)

A short walk from the ferry terminal is Nagisa Park, a coastal park with volcanic stones for visitors with little time. If you have three or more hours, you can take a bus tour to see Sakurajima's more distant and more spectacular lava fields created by past eruptions.

Visitors can reach Sakurajima by a 15 minute boat ride from the Kagoshima ferry terminal. Boats leave frequently and around the clock. The ferry terminal is a 10 minute walk from JR Kagoshima Station (one stop east of Kagoshima Chuo Station) and also accessible by bus.

On the Eastern edge of the island, a short drive in from Route 224, is the remains of the shrine gate, (torii), which was buried by the 1914 blast and left at ankle height to remind locals what they had lived through. It’s a shame about the chain placed right in front of it, but still a wonderfully curious sight to see!

SAKURAJIMA TOWN   桜島町  (sakurajima machi)

BURIED SHRINE GATE 埋没鳥居 (maibotsu torii)

Challenge 2: Visit Ikeda Ko (Ikeda Lake)

It doesn’t get much more Southerly than this! Located on the Satsuma-Hantou peninsula, South of Kagoshima, this is the largest lake in Kyushu, a caldera where the volcanic cone is still visible in the bottom of the lake! 233m deep and boasting giant eel, soft-shelled turtles and their very own local version of the Loch Ness Monster, a mysterious beast called “Isshii”, (mysterious mainly for how astonishingly similar the legend is to it's Scottish counterpart, even down to the name!)

SATSUMA PENINSULA 薩摩半島 (Satsuma hantou)

LAKE IKEDA 池田湖 (ikeda ko)

Challenge 3: Visit Soginotaki waterfall, Oukuchi City

With its specutacular waterfall 210 meters wide and 12 meters high, Sogi-no-taki is known as "The Niagara of the Orient." It forms a part of a natural park where beautiful seasonal flowers such as cherry blossoms and vivid autumnal shades can be enjoyed.

SOGINOTAKI WATERFALL 曾木の滝 (soginotaki)

OOKUCHI CITY大口市 (ookuchi shi)

Nagasaki (長崎県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit the Peace Park and A-Bomb museum in Nagasaki City

Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the city's destruction by the atomic bomb dropped on August 9th, 1945. In the park stand the massive Peace Statue, as well as various other statues. A monument with a black pillar marks the atomic explosion's epicenter in the nearby Hypocenter Park and stores a list of the bomb’s victims. Above the park stands the sobering Nagasaki A-Bomb Museum. The Peace Park is located a few kilometers outside of the city center in Urakami. It is most easily accessed by tram line 1 or 3 in about 10-15 minutes from JR Nagasaki Station. The park is a short walk from the "Matsuyama-machi" stop.

NAGASAKI CITY 長崎市 (Nagasaki shi)

A- BOMB MUSEUM 長崎原爆史料館 (Nagasaki genbaku shiryoukan)

Challenge 2: Ride the 99 Islands Tourist Boat - "Pearl Queen"

Actually consisting of over 200 islands, this tour boat, leaving from Sasebo City, explores the coast of Nagasaki for 90minutes, offering such breathtaking views that the scenery was chosen to be the opening scene in The Last Samurai. Departs at 10:00,11:00,13:00,14:00 and 15:00 from Saikai Pearl Sea Centre, Sasebo Pearl Centre, Kashimae-Town Sasebo city. Fare: 1,200 yen.

SASEBO CITY 佐世保市(sasebo shi)

SAIKAI PEARL SEA CENTRE – 西海パールシーセンター (saikai pa-ru shi- senta-)

KASHIMAE TOWN鹿子前町 (kashimae machi)

Challenge 3: See the view over Nagasaki from Inasayama

From the West side of the harbour there is a cable-car, ascending to the summit of the 332m Inasayama, offering a glittering night-time view of the city. A return ticket will cost you 1,200yen, (though you may want to consider walking), and cable-cars leave every 20mins, from 0900-2200.

INASAYAMA CABLE-CAR 稲佐山ロープウェイ (inasayama lo-pu-wei)

Saga (佐賀県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit the Pine Forest in Karatsu City

The Niji-no-Matsubara Pine Grove, which stretches from Karatsu City through the sandy beaches of Hamatama Town, is a nationally designated special scenic site. It is regarded as one of the three major pine groves of the country. The Pine Grove, which is made up of approximately one million black pine trees, stretches a length of 5km and a width of 1km Niji-no-Matsubara is famous for its mysterious legends, which describe Niji-no-Matsubara as being a place where cicada are silent, and where the pine all stay short. The pine grove is also a treasure house of mushrooms. Its famous truffle is the model for the Karatsu specialty item "Shoro Manju" (truffle steamed rice flour dumpling).

KARATSU CITY   唐津市  (karatsu shi)

HAMATAMA TOWN   浜玉市  (hamatama shi)

PINE FOREST  虹ノ松原   (niji no matsubara)

Challenge 2: Visit Imari Pottery Village

Saga is famous for its pottery, and the villages of Imari, nearby Ookawachiyama and neighbouring Arita are known as the cradle of Japanese porcelain. Imari is still a bustling little port, as well as having a number of active kilns, which can be visited through arrangement with the local tourist information centre.

IMARI 伊万里  (imari)

Challenge 3: Visit the Taku Seibyo Shrine in Taku City

This is the oldest existing Confucian shrine in the world. The shrine is located in peaceful, beautiful, peaceful gardens, the perfect antidote to a few days of stressful hitching! Located near the intersections of routes 24 and 25, there is a bus from the JR station in the city if you are having problems!

TAKUSEIBYOU SHRINE 多久聖廟神社 (takuseibyou jinjya)

TAKU CITY 多久市 (taku shi)

Fukuoka (福岡県)Edit

Challenge 1: Visit Tenmangu Shrine in Dazaifu

A mere 15kms south of bustling Fukuoka City is Dazaifu, a town crammed with beautiful shrines and temples all within strolling distance of the train station. The number one temple in the country dedicated to God of learning, Tenmangu Shrine is a popular spot for tourists and students alike, with its bright orange torii gates and 3,000acres of picturesque bridges, plum trees and lakes.

DAZAIFU CITY 太宰府 (dazaifu)

TENMANGU SHRINE 天満宮 (tenmanguu)

Challenge 2: Take part in the HAKATA DONATKU festival

For two days, May 3rd and 4th, the streets of Hakata, central Fukuoka, fill with over 2million people for the largest attended Golden Week festival in the country, a festival which dates back over 800years. Join the crowds as they show off their colourful costumes, their dancing and their spoon-bashing skills!

HAKATA DONTAKU 博多 どんたく (hakata dontaku)

Challenge 3: Visit the top of the Fukuoka Tower

Fukuoka Tower Observation Room has a marvellous 360 degree panoramic view. It takes approximately 70 seconds by elevator to the observation room at 123m above ground level. On top of being able to view sites of Fukuoka city, such as Hakata wharf and Sefuri Mountain, you can enjoy the gradually changing colours of the blue sky as night falls. Open 09:30- 22:00.

FUKUOKA CITY   福岡市  (fukuoka shi)

FUKUOKA TOWER 福岡タワー  (fukuoka tawa-)


These are worth 100points each, and could be a good way to meet up with fellow hitchers along the way. Personally, I am planning on being at the first and last Trinita games, (I have a season ticket, after all!), and at least one Hawks game.

OITA – football/soccer, J1

  • Sat 28th April, 1500 - Oita Trinita vs Gamba Osaka
  • Sun 6th May, 1300 - Oita Trinita vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima

Oita Kyuseki Dome, (aka Big Eye)

FUKUOKA – football/soccer, J2

  • Thu 3rd May 1300 – Fukuoka Avispa vs Shonan Belmare

Hakata no Mori Stadium

FUKUOKA – baseball

  • Tue 1st May, 1800 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Rakuten Eagles
  • Wed 2nd May, 1800 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Rakuten Eagles
  • Thu 3rd May, 1300 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Rakuten Eagles
  • Fri 4th May, 1400 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Seibu Lions
  • Sat 5th May, 1300 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Seibu Lions
  • Sun 6th May, 1300 – Fukuoka Hawks vs Seibu Lions

Yahoo Dome

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