Our time in Kagoshima was brief, just as it had been the first time we were there. As we had been late to dock, we separated quickly from our ferry friends and sprinted towards the tram that would take us to Kagoshima-Chuo Station. Our packs were thankfully light considering the length of our trip, a fact we relished as we navigated downtown Kagoshima and alighted from tram, bus, and finally train. We arrived to an empty Aso Station and to a city well on its way to bedding down for the night. We felt the same about things by that time.
In the morning, we collected our rental car and took in the countryside as we made our way towards Takachiho Gorge 高千穂峡. A kindly, older attraction employee sold us our tickets and pointed the way to the boat launch area. Although the gorge was less heavily visited than the sites we would come to experience while in Japan, we knew we wanted to continue enjoying the quiet brilliance of the country’s environments, ones that invited us and others to venture a bit further and deeper into the wild and isolated:
The stacked stones of Amano Yasukawara 天安河原, said to be the birthplace of Japanese mythology; the plains of Kusasenri-ga-hama 草千里 in the area of Mount Aso 阿蘇山, wind-swept and worn, and not unlike some of the environments we had seen in our friends’ images of Iceland; the various onsen of Kurokawa 黒川温泉 that had us bathing in caves, by riverside, and under a moon whose light bounced from stone to bamboo culm, refracted through water that returned strength to our legs; the endless fields, caves, and karst topography of Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park 秋吉台国定公園; the wisteria vine bridges of the Iya Valley 祖谷渓谷 region where I celebrated another year of connectedness to this lifetime, where while passing through the ominous doll village of Nagoro and cedar groves outside restored samurai residences we discovered a peacefulness, even while the fuses in our minds were inexplicably blown by all the intrigue surrounding us.
This was Kyushu, Chugoku, and Shikoku for us, the parts we were able to experience together, the memories that pulse within our hands and behind our eyes.
Written by Amy & Tomasz
All photographs by Tomasz Wagner on a Contax G2 using the 21mm f2.8, 45mm f2, and 90mm f2.8
Developed by ABC Photo and self-scanned with the Pakon F135
Music — Join Me on My Avalanche by Explosions in the Sky