The second overnight stop on our Kyushu adventure was Izumi for a farm stay. We found out about the option of doing a farm stay in the quiet countryside while researching itineraries in Kyushu. The promotional video below gives you a good idea of the sightseeing you might be able to do in Izumi and actually features our host.
We debated taking the local train along the coast from Kagoshima, but as it would have taken a couple of hours and the shinkansen was only about 30 minutes, we opted for the more expensive option instead. On arriving in Izumi, we had a bit of time to kill, so found a nearby ramen place and filled up on food before meeting our host.
Meeting our host
The host was a jovial mature gentleman who communicated with us via a gadgety handheld translation device (though we did manage to have some basic conversations in Japanese!). We pulled up at a small house in the countryside, where his wife was waiting, ready to serve us tea and local biscuits. He explained his orange farm wasn’t really operating at the moment as the season had finished, but offered to take us on a sightseeing trip instead. Off we went for a drive around Nagashima Island, one of the most spectacular places I have seen in Japan!
Exploring Nagashima Island
We stopped off at numerous small temples and viewpoints overlooking the clear blue ocean. At one viewpoint up on the mountain side there was even a urinal with a glass window overlooking a spectacular bay with little fishing ships. We also stopped off at a small flower conservatory to take pictures for a small entry fee of 400 yen. We finished the day with a walk along an almost empty beach watching cranes and other wildlife. As the weather was perfect and there were literally no other tourists to be found (Japan had just closed its borders due to the Covid-19 crisis), we felt very privileged to have these sights to ourselves.
In the evening, our host and hostess cooked us a large Nabe hot pot along with various side dishes including sashimi. Some of the tips on how to hold chopsticks and information on famous Japanese dishes was a bit lost on us (as we have already been living in Japan for two years now), but we did appreciate the efforts to keep us entertained. After dinner, the hosts announced that it’s their bed time but told us to stay up as long as we liked, recommended to stargaze outside in the field and left us a bottle of local Shōchū (liqueur) behind. Despite the rather hard traditional Japanese beds, we slept very soundly in the silent village.
Number One Temple Bell
After a hearty Japanese breakfast (including natto!), the host asked if we had time to cram in one final sight before heading to Kumamoto. Why not?! Off we went to a temple dedicated to cranes with the largest bell in Japan (‘Japanese number one!’). It really was a nice big bell.
I’m not sure the term ‘farm stay’ was really appropriate for the holiday home stay we effectively had, and we were also pretty fortunate with the weather. I’m not convinced there would have been much to do locally in bad weather (the main attraction, the local crane park was closed at the time), but nevertheless, we had a great time and I would recommend the experience, or alternatively Nagashima island, as a stop off on your Kyushu trip.