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  • Day41

    To Japan - Okinoshima Island

    October 7, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Super early departure today, as we had a 7:30 flight out. Out the door by 5:30am and we managed to get a cab pretty quickly, thanks I guess to our train station proximity. It was only a 30 minute ride to the airport, so we got there around 6am with plenty of time to spare. No hitches checking in or going through emigration/security and before long we were in the air for a hilariously short flight of 40 minutes. I think most of that was spent taxiing as well!

    We landed in Fukuoka, took ages in an immigration line but eventually got through with no dramas. Slow bus to the domestic terminal then a subway to Hakata Station in downtown Fukuoka. Spent ages sorting out our J-Rail pass and picking up train tickets for the next two weeks, but eventually that was sorted too. Left our bags in a train station locker before catching a train north to our World Heritage site for the day: the Sacred Island of Okinoshima.

    It's a sacred island about 50km off the coast, and it's forbidden for mere mortals to enter, but we had a plan! After an hour on the train and then an hour on the bus (stuffing things up along the way because systems are quite different here), we got to a particular shrine that is part of the world heritage listing. Shinto is an animist religion that worships essentially animal spirits, and this shrine is devoted to the same spirits that inhabit the sacred island. They're considered to be guardians of safe travel, as fishermen and merchants heading to Korea would leave their offerings on the island. These days people get their Toyotas and Hondas blessed instead.

    We were done with the shrine in about 45 minutes, and the nearby World Heritage museum was closed, so we pressed on with another bus to a ferry terminal on the coast. Here we could (and did) get a ferry to an island off the coast - not the actual sacred island, but one where you could theoretically sometimes see it, and where there was another sacred shrine that was part of the WHS listing. 30 minute ferry ride and a 40 minute walk later we arrived at a beautiful, rugged and isolated spot on the coast. The proper sacred island was still 50km offshore and lost in the haze, but the shrine was nice, if small.

    Finished up filming before we retraced our steps walking, on the ferry, the bus, and the train all the way to Hakata station where we collected our bags and got the subway to our hotel. We were staying in a Japanese capsule hotel - essentially a dormitory where you stay in a bed-sized capsule with a blind for privacy. It was quite a fancy one, with iPods to control lights/fan, and a reclining bed so you could sit properly and have a bit of space. Though unfortunately we'd just missed the free beer at the bar downstairs!

    Settled in before heading out for dinner at a chain curry house around the corner. Japanese style katsu curry, and very tasty.
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