We hopped on a train from Matsue to Shimonoseki, along the coast and then through the mountains.
Shimonoseki is the far south point of Honshu (the main island of Japan) and overlooks the straits between Honshu and Kyushu. It is famous primarily for fugu (blowfish) which will kill you if it’s not prepared properly.The whole town is covered in fugu statues, paintings, and other blowfish decorations (see our collection of blowfish photos.)
We had fugu for breakfast (and didn’t die!) at a restaurant over the fish market. We got lots of pretty views of the city from various temples, parks, and towers — in Shimonoseki itself and traveling down the coast to a small town. One of the temples was dedicated to turtles, had a turtle pond, a large statue (see the photos for me riding the large statue) and also the “first fugu statue in the world”. We took a gondola up to a big park that had great views, but we decided to hike down and on the way down we saw a warning sign that jen blithely translates as saying “watch out for wild boar!” I stopped in my tracks at that point and asked her to verify that she meant boar as in wild pig… but we kept hiking. Farther down we ran into a sign also warning us about flying stinging insects. But in the end we got to the bottom in one piece, and emerged into a garden of tulips donated by the turks.
Next we went to a samurai house with beautiful gardens, which was a spot where the Emperor used to go visit. The house was large, and nicely (if sparsely) decorated, but the gardens were really amazing. The whole house opens up to the gardens — the walls/windows all slide and the waterfall and cherry trees outside become a part of the house.
Up next: Hiroshima and Miyajima (my favorite part of the trip!)