Local Japan: Kanoya in Kagoshima
“We are moving to Kanoya, and I will be a School principal” said my husband about 2 months ago. After 20 years in Kagoshima Prefecture I knew the basics about Kanoya. It has a Rose Garden, a Self-defense Force Air-base, and nothing really else. Kanoya is far from everything, in the South of the Osumi Peninsula. It is located on a high place, and cold in winter.
What I usually do, before moving, I go to a book shop and buy a map. A foldable map, to get a picture of the new place and to find my way around. I am old-fashioned and refuse to use a Navigation system and smart-phone. So a good map was essential. BUT, as it turns out, there are no proper maps to be found! Bummer! What I bought instead was a Prefectural Road map with a small map of the city center. That was as good as it gets.
Since my husband is the principal of a Junior High school, we had to move into the provided principal housing. It is nothing I would have chosen myself, but let me just say: It could have been worse! The first thing my daughter checked out was the toilet. “Mom, this looks just like in school!” She was right, but let`s focus on the positive-at least it is a western style toilet and not a japanese style squat toilet.
Also, this place is rather bright and sunny, and VERY country side. It is not even summer yet, and I have found a lot of centipedes and geji-geji already! I can handle ants and cockroaches , even palm-sized spiders. But centipedes and geji-geji? They give me the creeps, they freak my out. To keep those buggers out, I put insecticide powder all around the house. This can be easily bought in any supermarket or drugstore, works like a charm, but is not recommended if you have small children or pets playing around outside.
Finding places of interest
So, here I am. After about 1 month in our new place, I slowly start to find my way around. Without map, mostly, and plenty of print-outs from Google Route Planner. And Google Street view is my new best friend! I wonder what people did before the internet and car navigation came up? How did they find their way without maps and way too less road signs?
There are several free information magazines for the Osumi peninsula, which can be found in many public places. I found them in the sports club and at my car dealer. That is how I found out about the Fukudome small farm. They raise pigs, and turn them into German style sausages, which are sold directly on farm grounds. Meister Fukudome learned the art of sausage making in Germany for 7 years, he has got a “Meisterbrief” and the sausages taste great, just like in Germany. I shall drop by there occasionally to buy a taste of Germany. Oh, and you also can eat lunch there too, which I haven`t done yet, but is high up on my “must-do” list.
The German in me also needed to find a good Baker shop. And find I did, or rather, Google did. The shop is called Trigal (トリガル), their “Pain de campagn” is awesome. And cheap, only 420 Yen for a rather large loaf. Great for German style sandwiches for my long walks around town.. They will also slice your bread thinly if you ask them. Like really thin, which usually surprises them, and the staff will be telling you that 1cm slices are really thin, sandwich-thin. But that is the way (most) Germans like their bread.
On a beautiful day in mid-April, the Cherry blossoms were late this year. I ventured out to see what all the fuss was about Aira Sanryo. It is said to be a spiritual power spot and is an Imperial tomb. There are numerous road signs with a picture of it, my husband`s business card also features Aira Sanryo. The place is merely three and a half kilometer away from where I live. So, I decided to walk, the best way to explore your local surroundings is on foot. Most of the way, the road was lined with Cherry trees in full bloom. Imagine over 3km of Cherry trees! Isn`t that awesome? On my way I did not meet any other soul, that`s how country side and lonely this place is. A few cars and tourist busses passed by, but that`s it. After about 40 Minutes I finally reached Aira Sanryo. The place is very quiet and peaceful. It makes you want to sit down and ponder about life and its meaning. All you can hear there is the twittering of birds, the sound of the river, and the chirping of insects. The tomb itself is not accessible to the public, and somewhat unspectacular. But the atmosphere this place radiates can not be described with words. It needs to be felt. Even my teenage son, who generally finds everything dull and boring was very impressed and excited about this place.
Kanoya Rose Garden
It is half past six in the morning (!!!!) and the local area information system is turning on. “Good morning everyone. This broadcast is to inform you, that the roses are in full bloom now, and you can enjoy them for the next 10 or so days. Please come and visit the Rose Garden”. By now, I have got 1-year-passports for said Garden, and will drag my children there this weekend. The weather looks great too, with blue skies and high temperatures. My daughter is looking forward, because she enjoys taking photos of flowers. My teenage son – well, that is another story. But with the outlook of some nice Rose flavored soft serve ice cream he will come along too and enjoy the various kind of roses and their fragrance, not. But I certainly will enjoy it! When the roses have gone, it is time for the hydrangeas to bloom. In between roses shrubs, I have seen plenty of hydrangea shrubs. In the beginning of June, the Garden is having a Spring Fantasy night Festival, with illumination and firework, something I am very much looking forward to! Especially the fireworks. Japanese fireworks are great, it`s like some kind of art
Kanoya Air Memorial
Do airplanes excite you? Does the sound of an airplane engine make you look up into the sky? Then the Kanoya Air Memorial might be just your thing. This is usually held during Golden week, (late April-early May) on the grounds of the Self-defense Air base. You can see the planes close-up, If you are lucky, you might also be able to see the acrobatic air show of the Blue Impulse, an acrobatic demonstration team of the Japan Air Self-defense Force. You also can enjoy shows of parachutists, Ciel-bleu (a pro-cycling team of Kanoya), helicopters and other small planes. All in all it is an impressive show with a high noise level. In between the shows, you are free to explore the grounds which are normally closed to the public and sample plenty of food from the various food stalls.