I Did It My Way

I am feeling fairly smug as I write this in Kagoshima airport. I am on my way back home to Okinawa after the first mainland jaunt that I have organized all by myself. In the old days I was very well looked after and adorable people organized my travel and such, leaving me childlike once that support evaporated. I have tried in the past to set up jaunts but have always given up. Complex websites in Japanese for hotel, flight, rental car, bookings soon drained me of ambition.

This time I booked my own flights, a rental car and 3 different hotels with no help. I feel this is a turning point. Many more adventures loom.

I go to Izumi which is a bit North of Kagoshima. It is the wintering ground for thousands of cranes. Apparently 80%of Asia’s Hooded Cranes winter there. https://www.google.com/maps/@32.1028334,130.2728827,737m/data=!3m1!1e3

Hooded Crane

The designated crane watching building is remarkable as it is surrounded by thousands of cranes. But when it comes to photography you really want to get as close as possible. This is not a problem as the fields surrounding the center are full of cranes who seem indifferent to my presence as I crawl around in my little car.

Hooded Crane on the ground. Click twice on all photos.

There are two species of crane, Hooded and White Naped. They are both very big birds! It is such a pleasure to see so many, so close.

A family of White Naped Cranes, mum, dad and sulky teenager.

We are right on the coast, which means only one thing – seafood!

There was also a plate of sashimi, so good, so cheap ~ $14.

There are lots of other birds.

Northern Lapwing. Look at the colors on his/her back!
GreyHeron
Shelduck
Grilled sprats – delicious!
Broad billed Crow
Intermediate Egret
Hot, deep fried sweet potato for lunch snack – delicious!
Black eared Kite

One day I ramble over to Nagashima. Wonderful sea views.

https://www.google.com/maps/@32.1842546,130.1016436,26946m/data=!3m1!1e3

Winter

Nagashima birds.

Brown Booby – miles out at sea.
Japanese White Eye doing yoga
Eurasian Teal

That night I stay in an Onsen Hotel. It is the best place, book now. https://www.nukumorino-yu.com

I wallow in the steaming hot water and the sauna. Japanese men have no shame in nakedness, I am bashful.

After an hour in the Onsen.

I have to go back to Kagoshima. I notice a little restaurant with drawings of fish displayed. It is lunchtime.

Vegetable and fish tempura, sashimi, fish head, fish soup, rice, pickles, pork with vegetables, salad, fruit all exquisitely prepared and presented. One of the all time great lunches. 2000 yen.

Anyway, I could post a lot more photos but you have probably got the idea. I love birdwatching and photography. In my dotage, I find few things really excite me, much have I travelled in the realms of gold, but birds spotting and trying to get a good shot is still so enthralling.

A couple of vignettes of Japanese sweetness.

When I check out of the Onsen, all the reception staff and the manageresse come out to say goodbye. They help me put on my hiking boots, which are kept in a locker outside the onsen. They chortle and grin, “Come back Neil san! Happy New Year, Neil san!” No being cool, no innuendo, just happy people being sweet.

I look out of the airplane window as we slowly pull away from the gate at Kagoshima airport. All the ground staff and baggage handlers are in a line. They bow in unison then grin and wave until the plane moves out of sight.

Wave at the White naped Crane

A truly wonderful trip.

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