Tuesday, April 26, 2005


This weekend was beautiful and the seas were calm- ideal conditions for the circumnavigation of Nagashima, a sizable island southeast of Amakusa belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture.

Total Distance 69 km
Length of time 1.5 days


ohama, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Heading out at 9:30 we caught the "spring tide", moving south.
As we were cruising down the Hachiman Seto along the west coast of Nagashima, a speedboat carrying four sunburned men approached us. To our surprise the boat pulled alongside us and we were asked for directions to Haiya Ohashi in Ushibuka City about 20km to the south. It was obvious that the boaters had no idea where they were. It seemed to us to be a little precocious to be speeding around without a chart amidst an archipelago of islands, rocks and shoals. The boat sped off again, hopefully finding its way.
Our first bathroom break on Nagashima was the unexpectedly beautiful Ohama beach. A minute before this picture was taken a couple of tourists took their picture beside our boats, evidently finding them picturesque.


oosaki, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Nagashima is mostly volcanic in origin and one is able to observe various volcanic rocks along it's exposed coastline.


kuronoseto, originally uploaded by vibromama.

High speeds were reached as we were swept through the Kuronoseto strait, which separates Nagashima from mainland Kyushu. With a few quick paddle strokes the GPS indicated a ground speed of over 20 km/h. Also encountered were tidal rapids, eddies, back currents and other features typical of a fast flowing channel.


Behemoth, originally uploaded by vibromama.

The Hachiman Seto is a major shipping route connecting the large ports along the eastern shore of Yatsushiro Inland Sea to the East China Sea. The passage is full of obstacles and the ships passing through take a circuitous course avoiding them. Additionally, fast currents flow in several directions within the straits.
For kayakers unfamiliar with this it may be difficult to avoid a collision while crossing the straits. Having studied the charts we knew where this behemoth was heading and therefore were able to come pretty close to snap this picture without any danger.

Tate beach

Returning to Tate in Shinwa town we had to ferry glide across the Hachiman Seto, which was streaming at 5km/h across its entire 4 km width.
Tate is a convenient launching spot, although the toilets seemed to be locked in the off-season. Water is available upon inquiry.

tate beach

Monday, April 11, 2005


suiden, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Around the time when cherry trees blossom in Japan, rice planting season begins. Tiny rice seedlings are planted by hand in most parts of Amakusa.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


simanoura, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Total Distance 17km

Friday, April 08, 2005


coastline, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Kyushu's east coast near the border between Oita Prefecture and Miyazaki Prefecture is ragged and dotted with caves and cliffs. A lot of this coastline is inaccessible by car, but in a kayak, one can explore the area thoroughly. Since it faces the Pacific Ocean, there is often swell, which makes exploring the caves next to impossible. These are best explored during the winter season when there are extended periods of westerly airflow.

The "Kuroshio Current", the second strongest current in the world after the Gulf Stream, hugs Japan's Pacific coast. This current brings a warm-temperate climate to this area, providing a long growing season for vegetation. From June to September, tropical typhoons bring strong winds and heavy rain to this coast. In winter, temperatures and rainfall levels drop, often creating conditions that are even colder than the snowy winters on the western side of Honshu. Due to these conditions, there are many unusual plants and trees growing here.

beach plant

beachplant, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Growing in harsh conditions, this beach plant thrives.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


rik doing an ender

rik doing an ender
Originally uploaded by amakusaleanne.
One's first experience at something is always special. The initial fear, the anticipation of failure, the aborted attempts, the build up, the exhilaration one feels when you finally get it right. "You are getting sun burnt", "tomorrow you are going to be really sore"- all this advice falls on deaf ears when one is focused and absorbed in the task at hand. Complete focus is so wonderful.

Picture taken by Kenji Suemitsu

Friday, April 01, 2005

kenji cruising along

Originally uploaded by amakusaleanne.
Thursday morning bike ride through Honmachi with our friend and kayaking instructor Kenji. Spring was in the air- the fragrant aroma of the mountain flowers was intoxicating.


Originally uploaded by amakusaleanne.
I managed to coordinate my helmet color with the seasonal flowers. Always thinking, eh!?

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