Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Aso by Train Part 1: Aso Farmland

NaNoWriMo is over, I've won and I went on a really awesome trip with my aunt and uncle! We went back to Aso, Kumamoto, and since I can't drive, we basically had to rely on the train. Since I was told that you basically need a car to get around Kumamoto, I figured that I'd write a little guide on how to use a train (and if necessary, bus or taxi) to get around.

First, you need to get the JR Kyushu Railway Pass. It's 7200 for a 3-day Northern Kyushu pass, and includes unlimited rides on the Shinkansen and other JR lines. Just the shinkansen to Kumamoto will make it worthwhile.

Day 1: Hakata to Aso Farmland

Eki-ben~
 Ok, before I even get on the train, I'm posting pictures of food. Why? Because this was my first time eating Eki-ben (Train station bento). Found at Hakata station (you can find them in the Shinkansen station as well), these are beautiful and delicious bento. Here's mine:


It's probably between 1000-1500yen for one, depending on what you get.

My Aunt and Uncle's. The beef was fantastic!
So, back to trains. Take the Shinkansen from Hakata to Kumamoto. At Kumamoto, change to the Hohi Line. If I remember correctly, the platform is 0A, but do check with the station masters when you get there.

From there, we want to get to either Tateno or Akamizu. Either way, we're going to have to get off at Higoozu and change trains. So, Tateno or Akamizu? Ok, as of 2014 November (I don't know if the information will change, so please check!), there's a bus from Tateno station to Aso Farmland at 9:45am, 11:25 am and 3:30pm. If you're not arriving at those times, you will have to take the train to Akamizu (one station after Tateno) and take a taxi from there.

Tateno Station. Remember this station, it's pretty important.
Thankfully, we arrived there at 3:20, which means we managed to take the last bus! It's a 17 minute bus ride, and it costs 150 yen per person. So yes, much cheaper than taking a taxi.

Tateno Bus Stop
The bus will bring you all the way to Aso Farmland, although the bus stop is on the opposite side of the lobby. But, I'm not going to complain, since even if you take the taxi, you'll have to get out in the parking lot and walk about 5 mins anyway.

So, Aso Farmland photos!

Morning time, with us in the clouds!
We were really luck to be able to catch the sunset on the first day! Upon looking at the map, we realised that there's a platform for viewing the sunset - all the way down. See the pictures above and below? You'll have to walk all the way down. Or you know, ask the bus driver that drives people to the more distant houses to let you sit in the bus there.


The platform has this cute heart thing, and about three places you can stand to take photos. Definitely worth it, if you want to get great photos. 

A lock for eternal love?
I think that's Mount Aso in the background! With the smoke from the one active crater (which recently erupted)


But really, beautiful.

For more information about Aso Farmland take a look at this post. My experience was very much the same, but with less snow. And I went to the spa and onsens a lot more (My relatives are here to relax so... spa!).

Funny story: My aunt and uncle first went to onsen here at Aso Farmland. Before we even went to onsen, we already spent about two hours at this spa place, where you seat in heated domes made of different materials, supposedly with different house benefits. Since onsens are hot, and the night air is cold, my aunt wanted to get out after about 45 minutes. We got out, drank our milk, and waited for my uncle. And waited. And waited. And in the end, we had to call him over the intercom twice. "(name) COME OUT NOW. COME OUT NOW" There was even another person who used the intercom after us. "(name) WE AGREED TO MEET AT THE LOBBY WHERE ARE YOU?" (I think that guy was Singaporean too, because of the accent) Now that I've typed it out, it doesn't seem so funny to me, but I guess you had to be there. I was laughing like crazy.

Coming up next: Aso Farmland to Mount Aso. Stay tuned!