Natsukashii Kumamoto

Mark has a nostalgic post about Kumamoto, along with a nice spread of pictures to illustrate what life on JET was like during our stay (and what it will probably be like for many years to come).
It got me thinking about what a great time I had down there. It’s hard to organize the things that I’ve seen and done down there. This is the most clear and concise way that I could think of quickly cataloguing my experiences:
The Kumamoto Top 5s
Top 5 Hikes
1. Kuju during the winter and spring
2. Aso-san at night
3. Kikuchi gorge
4. Yamabuki suigen when the fireflies are out/ Yamabuki suigen with fresh snow
5. Daikanbo on the Milk Road
Top 5 near death experiences
1. Playing with mamushi
2. Mark getting guillotined by Deez Nuts
3. Driving the Milk late at night in thick fog
4. Driving without a blinker due to Dukes of Hazard entry gone wrong
5. Almost driving off a cliff in Ashikita with Deez Nuts
Top 5 parties
1. Jason’s house on any given weekend during the first year
2. Hanami at Kumamoto Castle
3. Waterwheel
4. Any night after a hash
5. Hanami in Ubuyama
Top 5 excuses to get out of work
1. SARS
2. Tori influenza
3. Buying teaching materials
4. Going to a “meeting”
5. A byoukyu surplus
Top 5 perks of JET
1. Recontracting conference in Kobe
2. Mid-year conference in Kumamoto City
3. Free Japanese lessons
4. Loads of nenkyu, raikyu, and byoukyu
5. Meeting cool people from all over and making fun of NOVA people (haha, those guys suck!)
Top 5 foods
1. Tonkotsu ramen
2. Basashi
3. Masa’s hamburgers
4. Iseebi sashimi
5. Karashi renkon
5 things I never ate in Kumamoto
1. Inoshishi
2. Kuma
3. Kiji
4. Koi zushi
5. Mamushi
Nastiest 5 drinks
1. Anything from the Sanctuary Bar
2. Flaming doctor peppers
3. Jack Daniels and Contac cold medicine
4. Cheap straight shochu
5. Old, warm happoshu
Top 5 surrounding prefectures and their best attraction
1. Fukuoka- Fukuoka city
2. Saga- Nanayama-mura
3. Miyazaki- The gorge
4. Kagoshima- hiking Kaimon-dake
5. Oita- the aincent Buddhas
Top 5 Onsen Spots
1. Kurokawa
2. Ashikita
3. Ubuyama
4. Kikuchi
5. Kumaden plaza’s rooftop onsen
Top 5 menacing/disgusting animals
1. Mamushi
2. Mukade
3. Gejigeji
4. Ao mimizu
5. Roadkill (tanuki, itachi, dogs, cats, and snakes)
Top 5 animals that make you hungry just looking at them
1. Cows
2. Horses
3. Yellowtail
4. Pigs
5. Ayu
Top 5 matsuri
1. The Kagura festival
2. Hifurishinji- the fire swinging festival
3. Drunken horse festival in Kumamoto City
4. Yamaga Lantern festival
5. Kyokushi’s beef festival
Top 5 flowers
1. Higothai
2. Nanohana
3. Fujinohana
4. Sakura
5. Ume
Top 5 places to go on a date
1. Picnic at Kikuchi Gorge
2. Party at Ashikita
3. Drive on the caldera
4. Hitting izakaya and hidden Japanese bars in Kumamoto City
5. Hashing
Top 5 things that happened while hashing
1. The hash organizer’s hand getting cut due to leaning on a window and breaking through, resulting in a permanent “thumbs up” for several months afterwards, and still running the hash.
2. A shoe getting irretrievably buried in cow shit, and then running the rest of the hash barefoot.
3. Wading through cow shit-laden water in Kyokushi (notice a trend?), and then watching the faces of the workers at the onsen as a group of nasty gaijin bum rushed the facilities.
4. The showing of various body parts at religion, and punative drinks given as a result of mistreating the Chalice.
5. Austin cannonballing the hood of a random person’s car as she was driving down a street next to the Shimatori.
In case you couldn’t tell, I think that Kumamoto, and Kyushu in general, is one of the best places to live or visit in Japan. The big cities and famous attractions of Japan are cool as well, but there is a feeling of timelessness that I have only experienced in Kyushu, Kumamoto in particular. It’s because things aren’t as convenient, cutting edge, or fast-paced that life is more adventurous, intimate, and pure in the country side. I hope that Kyushu stays just the way it is, and I think that it just might.

5 thoughts on “Natsukashii Kumamoto”

  1. Very well done. I agree with your rankings for the most part. Honestly, I think my near death should at least be a 3 or a 2.
    And Flaming Dr. Peppers? You gotta love them.
    One addition: Top 5 waterfalls to jump from
    1)Yakushima – from a river to the ocean
    2)Todoroki Suisha, The Waterwheel (at night)
    3)Kahoku Taki
    4)Nanataki in Mifune
    5)Kikuchi Gorge

  2. That’s a great list from which to create chapters in your memoir! What were you thinking, playing with a mamushi? I told you from the time you were little, don’t play with your (live, wiggly, venomous) food!
    Mark’s lively descriptions are a neat read….you guys will have lots to reminisce over as years go by!

  3. I got a link to your blog from a Mazda search I was googling (is that a word now?). I enjoyed reading your blog very much! I just wanted to tell you that!

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