MyCarForum and sgCarMart recently went on a trip with Prime Follow Me Japan to East Kyushu, Japan. With advancement in GPS technology, Follow Me Japan (FMJ) wanted to show us how easy it is to drive around in Japan. Gone are the days where you would need to know how to converse and/or read Japanese to get around in a car.
Continuing from the previous blog post here, which got a little too long, we show you where we went with our Toyota Prius for the next four days in the second part of our adventure...
Day 3 - Beppu to Aso
This was Day 3 of the East Kyushu tour and like the days before, some of us who had more discipline checked out earlier to head to the attractions, while some of us took it easy.
We sure took it easy and woke up around 8:00am. On the way out of Beppu and heading in the direction of Aso, we drove towards the "Kokonoe 'Yume' Otsurihashi Suspension Bridge" and halfway through, we spotted this cool old-school amusement park that is still in service.
Our first destination for the day - The Kokonoe 'Yume' Otsurihashi Suspension Bridge. Opened in 2006, the suspension footbridge is the longest and highest of its type in the world. Thrill seekers will like walking here as the walking space is only 1.5 metres-wide and you can see all the way down its height of 173 metres. To put that into perspective, it is just 20 metres lower than the height of our Marina Bay Sands Towers.
It only took a couple of car lengths in the thick fog to nearly engulf the car in front. That was how thick the fog was. However, there was no stress driving through it as everyone took it slow and safe.
Via Whatsapp, our tour guide recommended a lovely cake shop that was on the way to our next attraction.
Day 4 - Aso to Miyazaki
We tried waking up early as we were told that today's drive was going to be the longest in terms of distance travelled. On another note, how nice would it be if we could wake up to such views every morning?
It was cold the last night but we didn't know it was cold enough to get ice to form on the car. Amused by our frantic shooting of the ice, the hotel staff promptly helped us clear away the ice by pouring water on the screen to unfreeze it.
We spent too much time here and had to grab a quick lunch on the way to the next attraction.. Always thankful for the many convenience stores around with free parking. We spotted many other drivers eating in their cars too...
A quick update on how the Toyota Prius did as we headed to our hotel for the night. By now we were more than halfway into our trip and the trip computer showed that we had driven 600km and we still have half a tank left. Impressive economy numbers judging from how many hills and mountains we climbed.
Our stunning hotel for the night at the town of Miyazaki. Behold the Sheraton Grande Resort.
Day 5 - Miyazaki to Kagoshima
Lunch beckoned soon and we were told to gather at a small local village near Ojibaru Park. This was a special arrangement by Follow Me Japan where they gathered the help of the local farmers who had all the top grade Miyazaki beef catered for us. Grazing the event with us, which was dubbed Follow Me Kitchen, was the local Mayor and his other officials.
With time for one more place to go before it got dark again, we headed towards Takachiho Farm. Situated in the the grassy hills along the foot of Kirishima Range, this is a good place for families with kids where they can learn more about farm life.
Day 6 - Miyazaki to Kagoshima
With not much driving to be done today, we took it slow. While heading towards the Chiran Peace Museum, which was built to commemorate and display all the Kamikaze Pilots related exhibits, we finally understood why Japanese love their Kei-cars so much...
Unfortunately, the museum prohibited photography so there isn't much we can show here. That said, this is one of the more memorable places of interest for us and it genuinely moved us. We were nearly moved to tears as we read the numerous letters that the pilots leave behind before they head out into war, knowing that they would not be coming back.
After ordering your meal, you will be given a table and your serving of soumen noodles. Dipping your noodles into the fresh spring water makes it nice and springy.
Next was our wonderful hotel called Ibusuki Hakusuikan. Equipped not only with an amazing onsen, it was also equipped with a sand bath facility. Said to be very unusual throughout the world, the heat from the sand that you are buried in will force you to perspire and increase your blood circulation. In fact, sand bathing is believed to be three to four times more effective than soaking in hot springs. In case you readers wonder why we didn't take any photos of how it looked like, photography is prohibited as it was part of the onsen facilities.
Day 7 - Ibusuki to Kagoshima
Boarding and alighting the ferry with the car was pretty straightforward but we were still glad that our guide was there on standby to help direct us up the ferry. There was no rush to board the ferry as they come and go every 15 minutes.
We hit our first checkpoint at the Yunohira Observatory. Basically a lookout point, this is halfway up the still active Sakurajima volcano. You can see ash is everywhere on the ground and within a short while, our cars had little specks of ash-like dirt - a reminder that it is very much alive.
Soon it was time to return our rental cars and head home. After a quick lunch, we headed towards the allocated petrol kiosk that was not far from where we were. On the way there, with our fuel tank finally neared empty. After all these days, we managed to pass the 1,000km mark on the trip meter, reminding ourselves how efficient the Toyota Prius was.
This was where we said goodbye to our car before we boarded the plane back home. Our guides were all there ready to help us handover the car and everything was smoothly sorted out. A shuttle bus then took us to the airport before we checked-in for departure back Singapore.
All in all, our trip with Follow Me Japan's tour was brilliantly executed. Besides the excellent service provided by the our tour guides, Yuta-san and Anna, their concept of a guided self-drive tour was true to their words as we did really enjoy the flexibility of a self-drive trip while enjoying the guidance provided whenever we needed.
Adding on to that was how stress-free it was to drive on Japanese roads, thanks to their very good driving manners. You could say it was good example of having your cake and eating it.