Aso, city sourounded by rice fields and sitting under an active Vulcano. That got my attention.
We started our next hitchhiking journey in Beppu. After a half an hour we figured out that is impossible to go directly. With all the earthquakes Aso become to rural to get a direct ride. So we made a new board with word Oita (大分市). Two cars stoped, one after another 🤩
Me: "Oita Deska?"
Two Boys our age picked us up. "I am a scientist", said one. Sadly he knew just few words in English, like me in Japanese. Hah Ok, maybe he knew more, but in general english language between youngsters it's quite a rare thing. My Japanese dictionary by the time, counted around ten sentences and twelve words. I almost knew how to read hiragana. Not much, I know, but that plus some Google Translator made a half an hour conversation possible. Obviously there were few minutes of silence in between, but hey our rides where fun.
Oita. Second ride, towards Takeda this time. Still no luck with a direct ride but, we had a whole day to do the hitchhike, so no problem. Guy picked us up with his Honda. From his truck it was obvious that he liked fishing. He was really nice, we picked up his friend, who was a teacher in primary school. They asked us if we want to see a waterfalls, but first we stoped at some kind of restaurant by the road. We where hungry at the time so that was perfect. It was a national holiday, so they had lots of time. Actually that was a third national holiday in the time we are here (3 weeks past). So maybe Japanese work hard and long hours but they sure have lots of holidays.
We went to see the waterfalls and then they dropped us. "Here, here gift", they gave us some sweets for our road. What a hospitality.
Random location. Middle of nowhere. Around 40km away from the nearest train station. Pointing our Aso sign for the third time and putting all of our trust into Mikes words.
Old guy stoped with a fancy limousine.
"Hello, Doko ni iku no?"
We where on our way. Not a word this time. He looked kinda tired from the whole day. That was ok for me, I was exhausted too. After half an hour he just stoped. Then he bought us a drink and showed us a local viewing point across the Aso (below). It was beautiful.
Aso-san was emptier than we expected, but not less beautiful. Nature was really admirable, I haven't seen that before. Grass with deers, horses and cows. Rocks yellow, blue and brown. Long track and some good food. Here have a taste of it.
Later on I got lots of answers. Why there is not many tourists? Why the train station is not working? Why we had to walk few km until the first restaurant?
Aso valley was in the middle of quite a few natural catastrophes. Most recent there was a big earthquake that killed a train station and broke down main road. Before that, there was even the eruption.
City for a foodie. Best ramen, some good sashimi and lots of small portable restaurants by the river offering all types of Japanese street food one can think of.
Oh and one of my western habits, in main Fokuoka train station they have bread! Not the sweet bread, like everywhere else or a toast. Real bread, crunchy and also some bread with cheese. That kind of bread that we are used to in Europe and we don't even know until we don't have it for a month. Don't get me wrong. I love to eat local food it's usually the best. I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it's half of the traveling, local food, but that bread was nice.