saturday jess and her host mom keiko picked me up at the nice early hour of 9 AM to journey to Unzen. we drove there via Obama, where I went last sunday to the onsen. only this time, keiko decided to take roads that were dangerous but gave us fantastic views. it was pretty fun (read – scary) to be in a tunnel meant for a train with a car coming toward you without its lights on and have to back out the whole way. i especially enjoyed when jess’s host mom would take both hands off the wheel and squeal and clap with glee!

look out point. look out! waiting our turn in the tunnels wide enough for one. dangerous roads

when we made it to obama, we stopped at a really cute cake shop. we each chose a little snack which we enjoyed and then continued on our merry way.

this cake look good mid morning snack

we arrived at unzen around noon. first we headed to a pond that is pretty and had snow and ice near it. then to the hells which reminded me of the hells i saw in Beppu with lori. it was cool and smelled like sulfur.

unzen had ICE welcome to unzen that steam might be warm, but it smelled like sulfur jess and jenn and a hell kitty

after stopping to watch some glass blowers, we made our way to shimabara. first stop was lunch where jess had the kids meal and i ate mochi in a soup. then to the castle which was mostly under construction, limiting what we could see/do there. that’s okay, it was still cool to see the scaffolding.

the part of shimabara castle we could see the part of shimabara castle we couldn't see

we also saw a cool street in shimabara where there’s a ditch running down the middle with spring water flowing through it. we saw people filling up water bottles and buckets with the water to bring into their homes. there was even a street that had carp swimming through the ditch. though, come to think of it, i didn’t see people filling bottles on that street.

a street in shimabara where fresh water flows down the centre in shimabara there is a street where carp swim

we then made an attempt at driving up fugen, the volcano that erupted in the 90ies. there was a sign at the bottom of the mountain suggesting tire chains, and as we reached our first ice patch jess and i, fearing for our lives, strongly encouraged keiko to turn back. i’m not saying she’s a bad driver, just that she’s not a driver with much ice experience. and the way she enjoyed accelerating into curves and ice patches was a little disconcerting. she seemed disappointed, but we were pretty insistent.

fugen and jenn (and jess) fugen

so back to unzen we went. first to an onsen. it was really great, though i didn’t realize what sulfur does to silver until it was too late. i now have a black tiffany’s bracelet. hrmph. after we ate these weird sweets that came in a self heating container (you pulled a string).
sweets that you cook in the container all ready!

our last stop was to one of the hells we had been at earlier. they had a festival going on where unzen is all lit up. last night, there were free standing candles along the road. it was beautiful. one of the hells had a “lit up fairy tale” we went to see. too bad it was just japanese and the lit up scene didn’t change, cause we had no idea what it was about.
the hells lit up and ready to tell a story here is the story. it was japanese so we didn't understand it.

finally, after 13 hours of touring, we made it home.

2 Responses to “unzen”

  1. Mom Says:

    Spare me the drives with Keiko no matter how beautiful the touring may be. You have now increased my anxiety…thank you

  2. Patricia Says:

    It sounds like quite the exciting drive! I’m intrigued by the self-heating container. You’re going to have me thinking about it all day…

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