Monday, April 7, 2014

Fresh fish and cool caves

If I had known that filling up our mp3 player with nothing but Disney songs and Green Day albums would have the unfortunate consequence of Roland jumping out from around every other corner singing, `do you wanna build a snowman?` I would have been a bit more discerning in my taste of road-trip tunes. As I had already colored in every prefecture that forms part of Kyushu on the map stylishly stuck to my fridge with `Attack on Titan` and `Adventure Time` magnets it was time to move my travels a little less south.

Coloring in the prefectures (just driving through does not count) 
And what a little less south it was as Roland and I settled on Yamaguchi, the prefecture so close to our island that they would be asked to move apart at a high school dance. After many renditions of Basket Case and I'll Make a Man out Of You, our voices started to be drowned out by the sad gurgling coming from our stomachs, reminding us that we had yet to stop for lunch. Fortunately we were just about to cross the beautiful bridge linking Fukuoka to a little town called Shimonoseki (or Shimonosexy to those, who like me are eight years old when it comes to humor) and get our hands on some sweet, sweet sushi.

While the fresh fish market is really designed to entice you to try the platters of thinly sliced fugu (puffer fish), my eyes were immediately drawn to the salmon nigiri with basil and a thin slice of lightly grilled cheese draped sexily over it. The market was busy and bustling and I felt a little lost at first with my plastic plate about to be filled with fish that had been singing `Under the Sea` an hour ago but soon I felt the rhythm and the rhyme of the place and started stacking up some of the best sushi I have ever eaten. Next I took my catch of the day up to the second floor, sat down at one of the seats lining the entire market and entertained myself with the sights of the vendors, some wearing puffer fish hats and customers going about their business down below. 

As the sushi settled into its new home, Roland and I jumped into the Daihatsu and bounced that Krusty Krab for our second location. Now I love a good cave, provided I do not have to scuba through tiny tunnels, undoubtedly filled with cave monsters, or climb slick, high walls with only some worn out chains hastily hammered into the stone to keep me from meeting my maker. Akiyoshido did not violate any of my cave liking conditions and so the biggest cave in Japan was the next stop on our journey. I had but walked two steps past the enchanting entrance perched over a clear turquoise pool before my hair frizzed to full orphan Annie from the humid air. I had little time to mourn the loss of my neatly blow-dried locks though as I was too busy staring at the massive cavern I was now standing in. The thing that really messes with your mind is the still lake next to the walkway that reflects the surrounding rock face, damn near giving you vertigo as you look down at that unending abyss. What the cave lacked in stalactites and stalagmites it made up for in rimstone pools that looked appropriately like rice fields and enormous halls of stone that thoroughly tests your ability not to shout Baruk Khazâd to hear what that echo would sound like. At the end you can take an elevator up or climb out using a tunnel decorated in lovely anime panels depicting evolution all the way from a single celled organism to a bright-eyed traveler proudly standing next to his Winnebago.

Awesome entrance

Stille waters, diepe grond, onder draai die duiwel rond!

Rimstone pools
The last stop before hitting that hotel bed hard, was some Karst topography or to be a little less fancy, a grassland dotted with lots of pretty white pinnacles. Yamaguchi was a very gracious host and as I still have bridges out of antiquity and many other sites to see, I will surely make a return trip as soon as I have deleted a certain song about a snowman from my road trip repertoire.       

It would not be a Japanese attraction if there was not at least a little anime


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