2009AUG-SEP Nagasaki, Japan and some more of Kyushu, and Okinawa.
I went back to Japan again for work, but this time to the island of Kyushu and the city of Nagasaki, starting on August 22, 2009. The flight schedule went Orlando to Detroit to Narita to Itami to Nagasaki.

Some pics around Nagasaki, including Nagasaki Station.

I can sleep well again!!!!

We went out with a few coworkers.

Just some exploring, including the well known "Spectacles Bridge" (Megane-bashi), though a kinda lousy picture.

On Saturday, we went to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the Nagasaki Peace Park, by way of the city tram. A very well done and sombre memorial to the victims. While going through the sites of the day, you couldn't help but try to imagine the happenings of Ausust 9, 1945, from an ordinary, beautiful day to a completely barren land.
this girl was posing for me.

A motorcycle shop in Urakami.

I rode the cable car up to the peak of Mount Inasa for the famous night time view. I walked to the station from my hotel. I was originally going the correct way, then doubted myself and walked half way up the stinking mountain at night before finally getting myself to turn around. That road may make a good run during the day. The picture came out ok, considering dark, no tripod, and point and shoot.

On sunday, I had to get the train bug out of me. I decided to take the JR line to Isahaya, then the Shimabara Railway Line from Isahaya to Shimabara. Not really on purpose, I used the machine for the Limited Express tickets for the ride to Isahaya and got a much faster ride. Although the train used a bunch of tunnels because of the mountainous terrain, the countryside was beautiful. After Isahaya, the same could be said, along with many, many rice fields. while in Shimabara, I did a bunch of walking, and saw Shimabara castle and the Nirvana Statue. Mount Unzen, I think, was always visible to the west of town. I took the same way back to Isahaya, but then took a normal service JR train to Nagasaki station. It takes a slightly different, less direct course than the limited train, hugging the mountains along the shore, which made for good viewing.

Here's a video of work getting out.

For the last full weekend in Nagasaki, we explored the city with some locals from work on Saturday. We started at The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. It didn't have much English, but had carry-along recordings in English that were pretty good. I was impressed with the museum, but the visit was cut a little short. I wasn't too camera happy while there.

We walked past Megane-bashi while on our way to Lunch. By the way, the food experience is much better when you or someone with you can speak and read Japanese. Lunch was good.

I ended the night by drinking beer on the wharf. There was a little stall selling big mugs of Asahi for 500 yen and a ritzy party next door with lots of nice stuff to look at.

The next day was a train ride to Fukuoka, about two hours on the Limited Express. It was kinda a lazy trip, Dennis and I just wondering around, but we had fun. I kinda thought that the highlight was the beach. Canal City was kinda a let down, but maybe it's more of a night thing and we were in the wrong area of it anyways.

Tuesday night, I went for a run. This was my third and last for this trip (better than none). On my previous two, I went north toward Urakami, on a little trail next to the water, and crossed a bridge which led to a 400m track. This last time, I headed south toward the big bridge at the bay's opening. I went on the sidewalk, but had some decent uphills, as well as a tunnel through a mountain. I don't take my camera running, but the bridge and view was impressive.

The Saturday after the last day of work, I caught a flight from Nagasaki to Okinawa to visit my cousin and her family, who had just got a new duty station there for the Army. We got lunch first, then went to Torii Beach for snorkeling and drove around the base for me to look around. Later that night, since Katie and Tommy hadn't yet had a chance to do it, we went out Kadena's Gate 2 for the nightlife. The area could have just as easily been in a college town in the US. One of the places even smelled like hurl, just like Liquid Cellar near UCF. (any picture files starting with 100 and not IMG are Katie's)

The next morning, Katie and I started our trip to the northern tip of the island, Cape Hedo, with beautiful scenery the entire way, from start to finish. Shortly after taking endless pictures of Cape Hedo, we got back on the road. Our first stop was shortly after at a little pullout on the road that led to the beach. There were only a few fishermen there. After seeing that the land formed a protected bay and that the bottom did not look flat, I pulled on the flippers and mask and went snorkeling. Absolutely beautiful, probably comparable to WPB reefs, but only in about five feet of water. I really enjoyed that and should have stayed longer. After that, we went to a coffee plantation, Hiro's Coffee I think, and snapped some pics at a dam (Arawaku?). A little down the road, we made our last stop at another beach down the road. The snorkeling was not as good there, but the view was magnificent.

For the next day, our first stop was the Shurijo, the center of culture and trade during the Ryukyus Kingdom. Nearly the entire site had been destroyed during WWII (though that wasn't the first time) and has been reconstructed. Pretty cool. I found a building that looks like a WWII bunker, with about four feet thick reinforced concrete walls. After the castle, we got lost for at least an hour, then we headed to Cape Kyan, Okinawa's southern most point. We really had to hit the backroads and farming country to get there. We next intended to go to Okinawa's Peace Park, but saw absolutely no signs for it, even though it's supposed to be a pretty big deal as far as touristy sites go. Instead we went to a beach where two guys from Fukuoka just wanted to talk English with us I'm guessing and get a picture and where many young Japanese go to the beach. Again on our hunt for the Peace Park, we found another side road that lead to a surfing beach, more good scenery. I walked around the cliff for a little while trying to figure out how the surfers get to the water and found a staircase cut through the rock, very cool looking. The day was getting late, so we decided that we would save the Peace Park for another day.

I left on a Tuesday morning. Naha to Haneda, bus to Narita, Narita to Atlanta, then to Orlando.

1. Just in case: Isahaya Station: 32.851N 130.0415E Nagasaki Station: 32.7535N 129.8704E Shimabara Station: 32.7897N 130.3712E
2. Motorcyclist get a lot of freedom that they don't have in the US. Lane splitting is very legal. If traffic's backed up, they'll cruise by the cars, trucks, and buses between them, on the curb side, or on the other side. They'd also be blamed for cutting off traffic, changing lanes without sufficient space, passing on the curb side... None of the four wheeled drivers get upset about it. I like it.
3. I've noticed more overweight people during this trip. The people that are able to get overweight in Japan are the people dying of heart disease in their 30's in the US. I've probably lost ten pounds and I've only been here a week and a half.
4. The girls are still looking good. I will recommend a visit to a Japanese beach.
5. The strong destinction between international and domestic airports sucks. If one of the few available domestic flights from the international airports won't work for you, you'll have to take a bus to the domestic airport.
6. I could be wrong about this, but there seems to be more focus on groups and companies rather than individuals, in Japanese culture. I don't like that. Some of the guys work six days a week at much more than eight hours per day. Work as I know it now will never be my life and I'll have a very hard time sacrificing it for a company.