I would like to start this blog by asking you, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japan? I bet those of you who’ve never visited this country before thought of neon lights, tall buildings and futuristic towns. I don’t blame you because a couple of months, even weeks ago that was exactly me.
I was expecting everything to be in the year 3000 but instead I found I’ve travelled back in time. Japan is anything but futuristic (maybe in the big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka but not where I live). I live in Kagoshima City, the most southern prefecture of Kyushu Island.
The thing that I am most excited about is living in a part of Japan that most people aren’t really familiar with. This means I get to show you a part of Japan that you probably never knew existed!
So this is the where you might want to grab a pen and paper and add the following name to your bucket list: Ibusuki.
Apparently this small town is called the “Hawaii of Japan” and it’s not hard to see why. Japan is a very tropical country but Ibusuki is T-R-O-P-I-C-A-L. There are palm trees in the streets and everyone walks around wearing aloha shirts. The moment you step off the train you can just instantly feel that this town generates a relaxed vibe. There is a foot onsen (foot bath) right outside the station and this is the best way to sit and relax while waiting for your lift.
The friend that we stayed at lived right on the water so once we arrived we just sat outside and enjoyed the view as much as possible. By late afternoon families were making their way to the water with their fishing gear and it was clear that this was something that happened every afternoon and every morning.
The highlight of the trip for me was definitely Bonotsu beach. This beach is about an hour’s drive from Ibusuki but totally worth it. The drive is an experience in itself. It is so beautiful to drive through Japan’s country side and past Mt Kaimondake (or Kaimon) which is an undissected volcano. There’s a hiking trail to the top of this volcano and as soon as the temperatures cool down I’ll be back to summit. The drive is also along the coast so on the one side you have the ocean and on the other side you have the greenest, lushest rolling hills. I mean who knew that this was what Japan looked like?
Once we arrived at Bonotsu beach I was at a loss for words. I was making weird squeaky sounds and it felt like my body was twitching because all I wanted to do was to jump up and down but I don’t think that is something people do in Japan so I had to try and be excited in a less excited way. This was one of the most tropical beaches I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. The water was crystal clear and different shades of turquoise. There were sail boats anchored in the water and the greenest hills surrounding the beach.
The beach wasn’t overcrowded either and the warm water was just the bonus of the day. Immediately after we put our towels down and enjoyed our lunch I scoped the area to see where I can go and explore. I mean you can’t take me to a beach like that and expect me to just stay calm in the water. No, I wanted to go explore on the other side of the rocks and so I did.
It was peaceful because once I climbed over the rocks I was completely alone. It was just me and the bluest water I’ve ever laid eyes on. I felt so relaxed and overjoyed. How lucky am I to live so close to something so beautiful? How lucky are we that we are so blessed by nature? I mean wow, just wow!
The next day we explored more of Ibusuki and decided that we want to walk over to Chiringashima during low tide. Now this is one of those moments where you just think to yourself “what is nature even?” Chiringashima is an uninhabited island about 800m off Ibusuki. During low tide the sandbank forms a little pathway, giving visitors the opportunity to walk across to the island. Just in case you don’t fully understand what I am saying: this means that the ocean opens up and creates a natural pathway where you can walk. You can actually cross over to an island by walking over the ocean. I mean if this doesn’t blow your mind then I don’t know what will. How cool is that?
However, it is very necessary to bring enough water during hot summer days. An umbrella might also be a good idea if you plan on staying on the island for longer. You also definitely have to go to the viewpoint where you have a beautiful view of the island and the pathway from the top! So magical!
Ibusuki kept me busy for two days with some of the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve ever laid eyes on. I can’t wait to go back!
Where is Ibusuki? It is a city in southwest Japan
How do I get there? You can either rent a car or take the train. It is about 90 mins from Kagoshima City to Ibusuki and ¥1000 one way.