The following morning in Kyushu, we got up bright and early, greeted by the sight of the Japanese countryside as we meandered through on the Seven Stars.
Even as we got ready for breakfast, we knew we’d miss this train once we eventually got off it in Fukuoka. It was just everything we’d hoped it would be and more (check out the full post here to see what I mean).
Breakfast was another all-out Japanese affair!
Flying fish soup, followed by a trio of assorted vegetables, clam and fried millet soup and blue crab meat with egg yolk on rice.
Next up was whitebait sprinkles with rice and for dessert (yup – breakfast dessert! *licks lips* 😋) we had Anmitsu (sweet scarlet runner beans, pomegranate agar and bean jam) with green tea.
Also, I promise this look below was sooo not coordinated! 😆In utter stubbornness on both our parts, both of us refused to change when we noticed we were ‘twinning’ and carried on through the morning dressed like that.
Our next stop on the Seven Stars was Bungo Mori, which we’d actually stopped by when we were on the ARU Ressha Sweet Train a couple of days before.
Back then, I didn’t quite know how to cross the level crossing but this time, we had a guide who took us over to the now abandoned roundhouse – which still bore bullets holes from the war, as well as a recently renovated train.
^Also, how adorable is this little ‘station master’ who greeted us at the Bungo Mori station! Sooooo cute! 😄
We kicked about Bungo Mori for a little while before hopping back onto the train for our very first cocktail of the day! (It’s never too early when you’ve got some of the best barmen in the land at your beck and call).
Our next stop was Yufuin, a town in Oita – another spot popular for its natural hot springs, beautiful lake and towering mountain overlooking the town.
Alas, as we were only here for a couple of hours, we skipped the hot springs and just went straight to souvenir shopping (which seems to be my new found favourite past time in Japan – you never know quite what gems you might find). 😄
We very quickly though decided to swap the souvenirs for cakes as apparently the roll cake here is really famous and every visitor needs to try it at least once (which was more than enough reason for us to decide on the switch from souvs to cakes)!
Back on board, we kicked back and relaxed, watching the train as it cruised through Kyushu countryside until lunchtime which – yes, you guessed it – was a veritable feast!
For lunch, we started with Fukiyose (herbal steamed chicken with ginkgo shaped crisps), roast pork with vegetables, Shiraae (tofu and sweet potato in a white sesame sauce), taro potato croquette and Japanese pickles.
Next up was Omusubi (rice ball with pilled millet and salted plum), Mezashi (dried sardines) and a side of rather beautifully packaged bread.
We then moved on to the Yufuin Borsch (which was a carrot and tomato-based borsch with Bungo beef loin)
For dessert, we had the green tea blancmange with Kabosu jelly!
All of which was (and it probably goes without saying), absolutely delicious!
The rest of the afternoon was then spent with a pretty much always-full champagne glass in hand till we got to Fukuoka and it was time to bid the beautiful Seven Stars in Kyushu train farewell.
It was so amazing, getting to experience the train ride on the Seven Stars and easily one that I reckon needs to be at the top of your list of plans when you visit Kyushu! 😀
Back in Fukuoka, we did something which I don’t know if I’d necessarily recommend you do as logistically, it makes very little sense but we had ulterior motives for this ( 😉 ) and that was to make our way over to Yatsushiro.
See, Yatsushiro was kinda out of the way of where we needed to be the next day but we were keen to:
a.) Try a bullet train – which also meant that the journey was fairly quick and easy
b.) Stay in a really traditional Ryokan (we’d already stayed in one but this one was properly in the countryside and run by a family so we figured we might as well give it a try) and
c.) Get in some more onsen time (so far, we’d only really had an onsen in the first place we stayed in and as the island of Kyushu is famous for its onsens, it just seemed a shame not to try to make the most of it).
And so that’s how we ended up spending the night at Hinagu Onsen Kinparou, a quaint place in the countryside that served up quite an amazing meal for dinner.
Dish after dish of deliciousness just seemed to magically appear on our table over the course of the evening and I’m not even going to attempt to try to name all of them (some I don’t even know the names of! 😀 ).
With that, we retired to the onsen to relax our already (quite frankly) relaxed muscles, before making our way to bed.
So far, between the Seven Stars, Ryokans, food and so much else we’d seen thus far – Kyushu as a whole was nothing like our experience of visiting Tokyo and we were loving this!
Tokyo was absolutely amazing (I slept like a total of 8 hours in 4 days trying to see and do as much as possible – it was so much fun to explore) but getting to see other parts of Japan, especially places like this you don’t necessarily see and hear much of back at home in the UK was absolutely brilliant and quite frankly, what we were looking for on this trip!