Age Limit for Changing Tires?

- This might not seem post worthy but considering the circumstances I thought otherwise. We definitely needed tires especially considering the long journey ahead and all the stuff to be packed in and on the car, We opted for a company owned by friends of friends of the family. When we arrived at the tire store we were greeted by a somewhere around eighty year old woman. Pretty typical in Japan for old people to work until really old especially in a family owned business. They usually do some administrative or bookkeeping type of work. Nope, not this woman. She got right out there and began changing the tires on our car.
Doggies All Alone

- With the prospect of the dogs being alone for a full four days, we needed to make a plan. I am really not good about asking favors of friends and neighbors and needed to think of something to avoid depending on someone to give them food, drink, and to pick up their poo.

Then I decided to build a quickie automatic dog feeder and to take off some of the wood bordering the pond allowing them access in order to drink. Then during the middle of the four days we hired the services of a dog sitter to come in and make sure they were okay.
Met Captain James T. Kirk

- We went to Osaka to meet with the owner of the Minamitane property today to talk about the place and basically check each other out. He really looked like William Shatner, AKA Captain James T. Kirk....well at least the Japanese version.

Anyway he is a really nice guy, married with eight grandchildren. He wants to move back to the island house but said he would miss his grandkids too much and after many years he decided to rent the place. Anyway he is letting us stay in the house during our vacation to see the rocket launch next week. He is going to turn on the utilities for us and said we can begin moving our stuff in. Since Akiko needs to work and there is no Internet at the island house, she will come back early and I plan to stay there with Shai to wash everything, set up the Internet, and built the dog run outside. This is an incredible opportunity for us.
House Specifics

Rent is $350 per month - This is a really good price especially considering the following:
House is completely furnished with all appliances. There is also a double bed, 8 guest futons, a dresser, tables, and chairs. The kitchen has everything we need including dishes and other kitchen supplies.

Farms included - The rent includes 2 farms adjacent to the house totaling about 10,600 square feet or approximately .25 acres. There is also farm equipment including a rototiller. The owner said with this much land it is very easy to do subsistence farming. When he found out we like fishing he said there would be little need to go shopping. He said other residents of the island with this much land are choosing to grow the local variety of sweet potatoes and flowers and making a lot of money selling these online.

Location Location Location - Yup the most important aspect of real estate. The location of this place is fantastic.

House is a quarter mile (500 meters) from the coast of the China Sea and one of many fishing piers.
House is 3.75 miles from a regular neighborhood grocery store.
House is 8.0 miles from the Tanegashima Space Center.
House is 3.5 miles from Kadokura Cape, a park, and a beautiful ocean view spot.

Google Map - Minamitane - Map showing the location of the rental property.
Google Map - Minamitane - Map showing the location of the rental property in satellite view.
We Got Lucky

- We are driving a couple of hours to Osaka to pick up the key from the owner for the Minamitane house on Thursday. Then we will take an overnight ferry, with the car, to Kagoshima. From there we will drive a couple of hours and take another ferry to Tanegashima after like an eight hour wait. We were on a waiting list though and there was no guarantee we could get the car to the island with us on the same day. This meant taking an expensive taxi to the house and then doing it all again back up North to pick up the car the next day. Then Akiko got a phone call from the ferry company saying there was a cancellation. Really happy to know we got transportation the whole way now.
Dog Sitter

- We met with our very kind dog sitter, Ikuko. After going through a list of what we wanted, she agreed to come and look in on the dogs a couple days later.

The price was 3000 yen (about 30 bucks) and every reasonable. If any of you in Nara are looking for a dog sitter then I highly recommend this woman. Going to post her information soon.
Packing Complete

- Finished this crazy packing for the move to the island even before we officially decided to rent this place. Yeah more of my craziness but moving stuff in Japan is really expensive and this trip with the car is already costing about a thousand bucks. Why not make the most of it and pack up the car to the roof. The next trip AKA the actual move to the island will include a lot of stuff and two dogs and a cat. Should be fun.
Riding on a Sunflower

- We arrived at Osaka port before 5 pm, plenty of time before departure of the Sunflower Satsuma ferry. We sat in the parking lot waiting for a boarding pass. Apparently Akiko spaced out and did not prepay for our tickets. We went in to pay and when we came out all the cars were loaded already. We sat in the car for about 30 minutes before they finally let us drive on barely in time before they shut the doors. Our little kei car was loaded next to these huge trucks. Incidentally this ferry can hold up to 300 cars.

This was actually the first time for me to ride on something like this and when I got to the reception desk, all I could think of was the old love boat TV show. I was looking for Gomez and Gopher and Captain Piccard or whatever their names were. We went out on the rear deck, for some reason there was no access to the front, to watch the sunset.
I guess because of the strong wind and sea air, we all became pretty hungry. We went to the buffet and purchased tickets at the vending machine, got a window seat, and then stood in line waiting to get some grub. The food was pretty average but all in all okay. We managed to catch the sunset through a window just before it set. Then we purchased the ceremonial beer before heading up to our group room which was supposed to accommodate something like 30 people. As it turned out we were the only ones making it our huge private room. We set up our stuff and then headed to the ofuro to get washed up and relax. Before returning to the room it was required that we find another vending machine and buy more beer. Yummy nodogoshi.

We all slept really good and work up in the morning to a beautiful sunny day albeit very windy on deck. Then we headed back to the restaurant for a breakfast buffet. As with the previous meal this was again pretty average but acceptable. A bit of time on deck before arriving at Shibushi around 9 am.
Blew Up

- The next part of our adventure took us on a couple hour drive from Shibushi to Sakurajima to see the active volcano. Although active and producing smoke and ash, we were pretty lucky with a little more activity than usual on this day. As we drove closer the ash and smoke became much thicker. The cars ahead of us kicked up the ash on the road creating a pretty think fog. Probably not the best thing for the air filter.

Anyway the first place we went to was the Sakurajima Visitor Center. Although small, this place is packed with information much of which is in English. From there we began our tour of a few of the better "must see" places.
Spot number 1 was an outside foot bath fed by the numerous hot springs in the area. We then walked along a trail which traversed a previous lava flow. The topography was striking to say the least.

Next on the tour was dinosaur park. Although there were no dinosaurs in this area millions of years ago, the presence of an active volcano and maybe a few Flintstone reruns induced the local forces that be to make a little dinosaur theme park.

Then onto another view spot to see the point which was covered with lava and turned Sakurajima, which was previously an island, into a peninsula. We then drove to what is arguably the best view and the closest point to Sakurajima. From there we drove to the now ash and lava covered torii, or shrine entry gate. This is the only thing to see at this spot but close and interesting enough to be worth the few extra minutes.
Sakurajima Links

Wikipedia - Sakurajima - Wikipedia site with general information about the volcano.
Sakurajima Visitor Center - Official site of the free Sakurajima visitor center and museum.
Sakurajima Visitor Center - Same site but this page has a list of places to see and things to do. Planning to see 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12.
Japan National Tourism Organization - Information about Kagoshima.
WikiTravel - More Kagoshima information.

May 23, 2014 - Drove to Kagoshima and boarded the ferry Hibiscus.
May 23, 2014 - Traveled on the ferry from Kagoshima to Nishinoomote.
May 23, 2014 - Drove from Nishinoomote to Minamiitane and the house.
Barely Made it and a POS

- After Sakurajima, which was really incredible, we drove to Kagoshima to board the ferry Hibiscus. Thanks to a lot traffic it took way longer than we thought and we made it with only about 15 minutes to spare before departure. After a really fun day our trip turned a little sour. This ferry was a piece of shit (POS), smelled really bad, and the only food on board was cup noodles from a vending machine. This ferry is no doubt geared for transporting freight with people boarding as a little extra income for the company. Unfortunately this is the only game in town for getting the car to the island.

There was at least the benefit of a beautiful sunset from the viewing deck which was at least some compensation for the poor accommodations.
Driving to the New Crib

- We arrived at Nishinoomote at around 9:45 pm and then took the one hour drive to the house. After traveling for about four hours on that freight ferry all of us were tired and irritated. When we got to the area of the house we realized the information we were given was wrong and we could not find the place. Akiko needed to call the owner and finally we were able to find the property. We were first greeted by a huge frog in the street. Then we entered the driveway which was literally a jungle and then things got worse. We went through the front door and found an unbelievable mess. The place was loaded with junk and filthy. I was mega pissed and all of us decided to leave the car packed with all of our stuff and wait until the morning before totally freaking out and making the wrong decision.

- Although still irritated about the house from the night before, we decided to throw it off at least for now and go for the other reason we came to Tanegashima this see the rocket launch.

For those of you who have never seen a rocket launch you might want to put that on your list of things too see someday. Although it only lasts for a little over a minute, this is a spectacular site to see. We were watching from a park high up in the hills and could still see and feel the rumbling as the rocket fuel ignited and propelled the rocket up through our atmosphere and out into space. This was a really special thrill for Shai who at four years old got to see this wonderful show of technology.

More information about the Tanegashima Space Center to come.
Downtown Minamitane and the House

- After the rocket launch we decided to drive to downtown Minamitane to check out some of the places we will need once we move to the island. Downtown basically consists of a couple of traffic lights, a grocery store, a convenience store, a fuel station, and a bunch of small restaurants and other businesses. The town is a 7.5 km and a 7 minute drive from the house. There is a lot of people hanging around and talking anytime during the day.

Taking the road home, the view was reminiscent of the view heading into La Jolla on Ardath Road sans the million dollar homes.

After a really fun morning we drove back to the house and the reality of our situation. Now time to make a decision. Should we stay or should we go. The house is a freaking mess. Tons of stuff along with rat shit and remnants of spiders and cockroaches. In addition, the sink cabinet is rotted out, cannot take a hot shower, the driveway and outside storage are a mess, and this is only the tip of the shitberg.

With this said we decided to stay as the benefits of this house, once worked on, along with the two huge farms on both sides of the house, and the beauty of this island, far outweigh the present difficulties.

Kadokura Cape, Portuguese, and Guns

- After we made the decision to stay we went out to enjoy the sites and tried to forget about the house for awhile. We went to Kadokura Cape which is a small park with sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the long stretch of white sand beach from the cape to the Tanegashima Space Center. This place is famous for a Portuguese wreck and the guns they brought which were the first ever in Japan.
Tanegashima Sunset and the White Sand Beach

- Next we headed to the beach and fishing spot which is only a five minute walk from our house. The sunset was beautiful and we could see Yakushima, a neighboring island off in the distance.

We then drove 10 minutes to a lookout point with an incredible view of the white sand beach and then to the Tanegashima Space Center to walk a little on the beach and see the beautiful star filled night sky.
Tanegashima Space Center

- We decided to spend the morning at the Tanegashima Space Center. What a fantastic place this is. The entire complex is situated on arguably one of the nicest beaches in the world. The grounds surrounding the visitors center is a wide expanse of green grass and open spaces. This is a perfect place for a picnic or to play a little frisbee.

The visitors center is free and offers tons of exhibits and hands on stuff for the kids. There is an incredible amount of information, much of which is in English, explaining all aspects of the rockets launches from construction to lift off.
White Sand Beach and Returning Home

- We drove down a road to a seaside park and found this incredible place where a river meets the ocean. We had no idea at the time this would become our favorite beach.

Afternoon arrived and with it the return of the wife to Nara. Yup she needed to back to work with me and Shai staying on the island to finish work on the house and get the Internet set up.
Work Begins

- Akiko worked on this house with me for a couple of hours before returning home. Although it made a bit of a dent, the real work now begins. I decided to focus on the entry and the rear bedroom which will be used to store our stuff until we actually move in which should be sometime in August.

Certainly was happy to find out the huge metal storage drum was not filled with anything and not attached to the wall. This quickly found a new home outside.
A Couple of Dudes Hitting the Town

- When the wife is away the dudes will play. Me and Shai headed into town for the first time to do a little shopping and then to the onsen.

He was thrilled to be actually sitting in the front seat of the car. He was even more thrilled to purchase the onsen tickets.
Kitchen Finished

- A bit of shit news today. The repair guy came to the house today and said the boiler was not working. This means no hot showers for the duration of this trip. The good news is we get to go to the onsen almost every day.

I was able to knock out the kitchen today which looks a heck of a lot better than when we first came to this place.
Outside Today

- Yup today I worked on the outside perimeter of the house including the driveway, laundry hanging area, and the rear walkway.

Unbelievable the amount of garbage hanging around outside and even more amazing was the number and different kinds of bugs hanging around in this trash.

Today I was able to do laundry in this place.
Storage Shed

- The storage shed turned out to be one of the worst projects of this place. Basically tons of garbage combined with huge bags of useless fertilizer and other farm chemicals.

These bags pretty much turned into rocks from sitting such a long time without being used. Planning to split these bags up and spread the stuff around the perimeter of each farm. Probably the only way to get rid of this stuff.
Fishing Spot

- We decided to walk this morning to the fishing spot which is only five minutes from the house.

Then we went there again in the afternoon at low tide to look for stuff on the rock beach at low tide.

Then we went fishing on the pier for the first time but caught nothing.
First Catch

- Shai caught a fish for the first time today. Yup he was totally thrilled.

Then we went for a drive to look at four fishing spots south of the house.
White Sand Beach

- We went once again to the white sand beach where we all went before Akiko returned to Nara. This would turn out to easily be our favorite place.

This beach runs all the way from Kadokura Cape to the Space Center and is really wide with very soft and beautiful white sand. Although we call this point of the beach, White Sand Beach, the actual name seems to be Maenohama Seaside Park. At this point a river meets the ocean and especially at low tide provides a safe place to play. Cannot wait to bring the doggies to this place.
Beautiful Sunset

- After the white sand beach we finished the day with a quick drive to the close fishing spot to watch the sunset. You can see Yakushima off in the distance.