Limit for Changing Tires?
May 10, 2014 - 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.
May 12, 2014 - 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.
Captain James T. Kirk
May 17, 2014 - 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.
Rent is $350 per month -
This is a really good price especially considering the
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
House is 3.75 miles from a regular neighborhood grocery
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
May 20, 2014 - 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.
May 22, 2014 - 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
May 22, 2014 - 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
on a Sunflower
May 22-23, 2014 - 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.
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.
May 23, 2014 - 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.
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
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.
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
WikiTravel - More Kagoshima information.
May 23, 2014 - Drove to Kagoshima and boarded the ferry
May 23, 2014 - Traveled on the ferry from Kagoshima to
May 23, 2014 - Drove from Nishinoomote to Minamiitane and
Made it and a POS
May 23, 2014 - 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
May 23, 2014 - 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.
May 24, 2014 - 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 month....to see the
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
May 24, 2014 - 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
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
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
May 24, 2014 - 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.
Sunset and the White Sand Beach
May 24, 2014 - 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
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.
May 25, 2014 - 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
Sand Beach and Returning Home
May 25, 2014 - 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.
May 26, 2014 - 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.
Couple of Dudes Hitting the Town
May 26, 2014 - 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
He was thrilled to be actually sitting in the front seat of
the car. He was even more thrilled to purchase the onsen
May 27, 2014 - 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.
May 28, 2014 - 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.
May 29, 2014 - 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.
May 30, 2014 - 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
May 31, 2014 - Shai caught
a fish for the first time today. Yup he was totally
Then we went for a drive to look at four fishing spots south
of the house.
May 31, 2014 - 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
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.
May 31, 2014 - 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.