Earlier this month we took off for a five-night trip to explore Miyazaki Prefecture. Although it rained every day of our holiday, we had a wonderful time and took in many of the beautiful area's sights. Our first stop was Kirishima which sits on the border of Miyazaki and Kagoshima. The "kiri" part of the city's name means "mist" and "shima" means island. So, literally translated, Kirishima means "Misty Island". Well, Kirishima isn't an island but it certainly lives up to the other half of its name - the area was clouded in mist frequently throughout our visit, giving it a creepy fairtyale feel. Add to that wild deer sightings and you have a place my dreams are made of. Let's go.
Driving up into Kirishima through thickening fog was like a dream, or the opening sequence of a horror film. We made our way to the campsite at Ebino Kogen where we were considering to stay for the night. As the car pulled up we were greeted at the campsite by wild deer and, with that, it was immediately decided that this would be our place of lodging.
The rain was holding off, so we decided to take a little 30 minute hike up to see Onami-Ike, one of the largest crater-lakes of Kirishima.
However when we got to the top it seemed Kirishima was really delivering on the mist, and we couldn't even make out the lake. Walking around the peak we were clouded in a fast-moving fog and cold wind. No lake in sight, but the rather mystical, eerie setting was nonetheless enjoyable.
Back at the campsite after some impromptu skateboarding and a much-needed dip in a nearby onsen, we cooked up some cup noodles on our tiny gas burner for dinner and settled into the tent for the night.
Having a tent and a car in Japan has really opened up travel options for us. We can set out on a five-day trip like this without having booked any accommodation. There are well-equipped campsites all over Japan, as well as many affordable hostels, family-run accommodation spots, and of course ryokan. This Miyazaki trip was a great test of the theory that we could get around without planning too far ahead. Armed with lots of highway and local maps, plus the trusty navigation system of google maps, we managed to plot a wonderful course and were able to stay in some great spots.
The campsite at Ebino Kogen was just amazing, and we basically had it all to ourselves (there was only one other group of campers).
Before hitting the road again for our next destination, we stopped off at the trailhead of the Karakuni-dake hiking course which was already covered in the day's fog. We hadn't planned to hike this time, but wanted to take a little wander up around the trailhead.
The landscape here was tremendous. It was like another planet. The smell of sulfur from Mt. Ioyama hangs in the air and you can't escape the quick moving fog which moves in without notice and makes everything spooky white. Very cool.
And with that, we were on our way. As we drove out of Kirishima, I spotted a meadow out the car window with twenty or more resting wild deer. We pulled over and watched them from afar. Unfortunately they were as afraid of us as we were in awe of them.
Our final deer encounter of Kirishima through the car window as they calmly grazed by the roadside.
Kirishima is a peaceful, mystical spot. We really want to return someday to explore the area some more. Bye-bye for now, Misty Island.