The trip to the caves was disappointing, at best; though I’d managed to find a couple great pictures online, it appears that those were the only good pictures the caves had to offer. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did take quite a few pictures but many of them seemed repetitive. Overall the caves were small, much smaller than one would think considering Ryusendo is the third largest in Japan and the best part of the trip wasn’t even the focus but there were plenty of random signs to be found. But let me start from the beginning.
Friday night, I hit the bed late. Bad idea, I know, but I was busy doing things, among them working on the site and blogging. I did prepare a bit by making some sandwiches and picking up a few snacks.
Of course, I woke up in a bit of a crappy mood on Saturday and some grumpy time ensued on both my part and Rian’s. In the process of getting ready, I dropped my toothbrush and, because I didn’t want to wake Rian – who didn’t wake up as early as I would have liked – the clothes I wore weren’t freshly washed (though they weren’t exactly dirty.)
Slip the arguing and threats not to go, we head to the library where the buses are waiting, find ours and hop on. The caves are only 90 miles of so south but the trip is expected to take 3 hours. 3 hours! Of course, I figure they just wanted to be safe and estimated the trip generously and there were also 1 or 2 rest stops to be taken into account.
For the most part, I played Mario Kart DS or chatting with Rian while Who Frames Roger Rabbit? played on the only TV at the front of the bus (which was old and in disrepair. The padding on the side of the bus, beneath the window, was ripped and holey on Rian’s side. Nice).
The tour guide assured us that the road ahead would be winding and bump so please make sure to have some gum or candy if you experience motion sickness. Too bad he told us after we were on our way. OF course, if I experienced motion sickness I wouldn’t spend any time, let alone 3 hours (each way) on a bus, unless I had to. Apparently I am alone in this sentiment because the little girl sitting behind me became sick and threw up all over the aisle.
Her parents were quick to clean it up and I felt bad for her. I don’t have a really weak stomach so I could handle it but it didn’t make Rian feel any better.
We finally reached our destination without any obstacles more major than I couldn’t find a single bathroom which contained all of these things: hot water, soap, a means to dry one’s hands. All the bathrooms I encountered had cold water, some had soap and the only one with a way to dry one’s hands (ratty old towels on the counter) did not have soap. Unfortunately, the latter was the one at which I was forced to use the squatty potty. Don’t worry, it’s not like the button of my jeans fell off during this escapade, either. Of course, with everything I packed (camera, DS, food, ID), I did not manage to pack hand sanitizer so I was faced with this dilemma: How do I wash and dry my hands and keep them clean enough to eat? I decided I couldn’t, not really.
So, I made Rian run around to every bathroom we could find in hopes that one of them would at least have soap and a way to dry my hands, even if I had to use cold water. None did. One had a broken hand dryer, though. I think he became exasperated with me when he started asking “Why even bother? You know it won’t have it.” He was right.
One of the restrooms was at the caves. We arrived 45 minutes early and, initially, the guide said we;’d leave 45 minutes earlier but we went back to the original schedule, much to Rian’s chagrin because he already did not want to be there.
We first went to the Ryusendo cave – the “big cave.” Our guide estimated it would take 30 minutes to traverse but it took more like 15 – 20 minutes. It was quick. We exited and were like “Well, that was it?” And we weren’t exactly hurrying, I stopped to take many a picture; well, as many as we could considering that the first 10 minutes you spend heading down and into the cave then the last minute you simply take 150 or so stairs up and back out into the land of the living.
We paused outside, watching all the other people who were already bored of this so-called adventure before hitting the “nature trail” which was all of 3, maybe 3 blocks long. However, it did afford a much better view of anything than the caves did, following a river which many, small waterfalls.
We then crossed the street and decided to check out the smaller caved which took us 5 minutes tops to go through. If the first were disappointing, the second is similar to some of the small towns in Wisconsin – gone in the blink of an eye. And though both caves advertised the types of bats which dwell in them, I saw none. Pity.
So, in a little less than an hour we’d finished everything there was to do or see about the Ryusendo caves and were ready to cut out losses (temporarily and monetarily) and head home. Of course, the “tour” made one more stop at Kitayamazaki beach after another hour’s worth of driving.
The beach was on the ocean and offered a terrific view from several difference terraces, separated by 750 stairs. The guide encouraged us to make the trek down and back up, if we were up to it but discouraged straying from the path because tourists had come across bears before.
We only went down to the second terrace. I was quite excited because it was my first time seeing the ocean up close and I did take many pictures. I was not up to climbing 750 stairs. Even the 100 – 200 stairs we took was hellish going back up after climbing all the steps in the caves and my legs felt like they were barely able to move after I reached the top. It didn’t help that my legs had already been sore before the tour.
We finished off by having an ice cream and purchasing something similar to a stress reliever ball from a shop. It’s quite unique in that it’s flesh coloured and has a nipple on it. Only in Japan, eh?
The trip back was less than painless. The girl behind me threw up again. Luckily on the aisle but this time much closer to me, and it smelled. Like ice cream. Luckily my boobs smelled good so I kept my head in my shirt for a while, whilst watching Mrs. Doubtfire. I had forgotten how funny that movie was; in fact, that was probably the best highlight of the trip.