This morning I said goodbye to Kyushu, Nagasaki, and the worst hotel in Japan (must write to Lonely Planet about that one too) and got on a train for Shimonoseki. Shimonoseki is the fugu (blowfish or globefish) capital of Japan so my mission was obvious. Fugu, it turns out, is delicious but also pricy (chefs have to be specially qualified through years of training and exams to reduce the risk of – well – death.)

Fugu!

After that, I headed to Akiyoshi-dai. I got off the bus at a closed tourist information centre and once again wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Fortunately, there was a map with the hostel indicated (labeled in Japanese, but Lonely Planet helpfully includes Japanese writing for most place and business names.) I’m now at the hostel in a huge 11-tatami room (yes, it’s a unit of area here.) There were 5 futon in the closet but there’s just me… not just in this room but in the whole place! Travelling in the offseason is weird. This isn’t the first time I’m alone in a hotel or hostel (Kagoshima and Kumamoto were also that way) but definitely my first time being alone in such a big place.

Some places are still full of tourists and travellers though. The hostels in Kyoto and Osaka were all full or close to full every night, and some places like Aso-san were full of Japanese tourists. I never know what to expect when I arrive somewhere!

Tomorrow: exploring the Akiyoshi-do cave then bus->local train->shinkansen. Possibly cycling the Kibi Plain before heading to Osaka. If I don’t have time, it’s straight to Osaka. I’m spending Thursday and Friday nights there before heading back to Tokyo on Saturday.

Originally written February 3, 2010