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Walking Under the Sea

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 7, 2011

May 3, 2011

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Lets go under the sea

Under the Sea

We got up early the next morning and set out from the tunnel. By the time we got to Kitakyushu it was breakfast time. We went to a park near the tunnel and made curry rice, a dish in Japan that bears very little resemblance to the curry dishes I grew up eating.

Once we had eaten we made our way to the island of Honshu, by way of a saunter under water. We got into the elevator which took us underground and walked with the small crowd of people that were there that day. There were a few runners, some commuters, but most were tourists like us who had to stop and take pictures every 2 minutes.

There is nothing to see down there; no windows or view. You just keep to the right and let the runners go by when they come along. It was a nice walk.

Yes. In Japan you drive on the left, but walk on the right. I guess it is done this way to have pedestrians face traffic when walking next to a road. I wonder what side we, in the US, walk?

a 5 yen tale

Once in Shimonoseki, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, we walked around a bit and took some pictures. This city doesn’t have many non-temple tourist attractions. They do have a mountain that could be climbed for a view of the city, but we were not in the climbing mood.

We listened to an old man telling stories to some people sitting around him. He was very expressive, but we had no idea what he said. When the tale was done, the listeners put some coins in a box. The box had writing on it that asked for 5YEN. We did listen to the man’s story, but we came in the middle of it, plus we didn’t understand a word. But for 5YEN, we couldn’t resist pretending like we were fluent enough in Japanese to feel obliged to pay.

Looks like fun. If only you got something other than clams when you’re done.


We then headed to our very own prefecture of Oita. We wanted to camp near Matama beach and see the most beautiful sunset in Japan.

We had made the 2 hour drive up to Bungo Takada, the city in which Matama beach is in, to see this most spectacular sunset, several times before. Every time we did, something happened to prevent us from seeing the sunset. Once we left too late in the day. Twice it was too cloudy to see the horizon.

We stopped at the beach to have lunch; left over curry rice. We watched all the clam diggers, with their kids and buckets in hand, looking for the shelled creatures. They all wore wellingtons with their pants rolled up to their knees. Most of them seemed to be having fun despite the fact that many of the kids were crying.

We were then going to go to the nearby campsite, set up our tent, then come back to watch the sunset. But it started to rain. Our stuff had just dried out from the last rain. Since we were a 2 hour drive from home, we decided not to camp. We took a leisurely drive back. Actually we were stuck behind a bunch of bicyclists. There was some sort of charity bike-a-thon.

The roads were so narrow but the bikers rode as if they had complete faith in my driving. They were so certain that I was paying close attention to them, that they would over take one another without even a slight glance back to see if there were any cars around to run them over. I didn’t have as much faith in myself as they did, so we pulled over at a random Joyfull and waited the race out.

some Joyfull somewhere on Kyushu

Joyfull with 2 L’s

And no, that one is not a typo. The name of the restaurant is Joyfull. It is just the best decent but inexpensive dining establishment that comes with a juice and coffee bar in all of Japan. It’s really popular among teenagers, who have to get their money from a generous parent. I like it because it’s clean, has picture menus where I practice my katakana and hiragana reading, and it’s cheap but still has a variety of dishes. But the drink bar is the clincher!

My friend Makeeya trying out the drink bar during winter break

Do you want a drink? It comes with free refills…

Outside the US, the concept of free refills is unheard of. When it comes to soda, ice tea, and other non-real juices, ie “drinks”, the cost of the beverage is very tiny compared to the cost of the cup it comes in. So, in the US most restaurants will offer free re-fills on their non-juice drinks. The cost for your refill is so little that they would rather you gorge yourself on their drinks than run the risk of you not buying a drink at all.

drink bar ticket

That’s the ticket!

Joyfull is one of the very few restaurants I’ve come across out side the US that gives free refills. Even Japanese McDonald’s doesn’t do it. When you eat at Joyfull, you get a drink bar coupon, called a “ticket”, when you pay your bill. The next time you come and show your “ticket” you will only have to pay 65YEN for unlimited drinks and soup. When you pay the bill, you get another ticket and the cycle continues.

I have no idea what the full price of the drink bar is. On my first day of work in Oita a group of my students presented me with a welcome book. It had many romantic date activity recommendations, a map to several Joyfull’s in town, and 2 drink bar tickets. Another group later gave me a poster with the names and photos of the English teachers. These were the best welcome gifts I have ever received.

Many people, like me, go to Joyfull just for the drink bar. You can sample all their drinks, taking a sip of this and a sip of that. This is where I discovered that I like Calpis. I’ve tried out many flavors of coffee and a green tea moche which I thought was okay, but Mark hated. Once they had a pink hot chocolate drink. I think it was just hot strawberry Nesquik, but it was so good that for months afterward, Mark and I ate at several Joyfulls in hope of having it again. We never did.

All Pictures



How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.







  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call yourbanktoaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Kanmon Roadway Tunnel
(Kanmon Tetsudō Tonneru)

How to get there:

  • 33°57’36.3″N 130°57’44.3″E

From Yoshinogari Historical Park –

  • Get back onto route 3 heading north
  • Then take route 261 heading north
  • Follow the road to the parking lot.



  • Free for pedestrians
  • For bikers and scooter driver there is a 20YEN charge. They use the honor system to collect the money in a box.
  • There are many parking lots. The one near the sea is free.


  • always available


  • This tunnel connects the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū.
  • The tunnel starts near Mekari Park.


Posted in Bungo Takada 市, Fukuoka 県, Honshū, Japan, Kitakyūshū 市, Kyūshū, Matama 町, Oita 県, Shimonoseki 市, Yamaguchi 県 | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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