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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Michi no eki Sarakujima Hinoshima Megumikan 道の駅桜島日の島めぐみ館

Visited 25.03.2014


This was our final destination in Sakurajima before we boarded the ferry back to Kagoshima city. There are numerous rest stops, known as roadside stations (michi no eki), spread all over Japan. Such rest stops are not uncommon in many countries, which are typically located on highways or major roads, meant to let drivers to take a break after traveling long hours on the road. These roadside stations are normally a one stop place which contains shops, restaurants, visitors' information center, etc. In Japan, the popularity of some have elevated these roadside stations status to tourist attractions of that area. I have read that some michi no eki are equipped with public hot spring bathhouses, swimming pools, parks and even museums! Services/facilities that are provided by these roadside stations are just too plenty to name and definitely deserve much deeper exploration on my future trips to Japan (if I get the opportunity to drive).  

Top left: Delicious mikan soft serve; Bottom: Legendary Sakurajima's radish.
I am always looking forward to visit michi no eki because they serve another important purpose: to introduce the local specialties to visitors abroad. Sakurajima's agricultural products are being showcased here in the Farmer's market. Sakurajima produces the biggest radish variety in the world. This gigantic sized radish reminded me of the fairy tale "The Gigantic Turnip" almost immediately. It is normally about 6 kg in weight, but the bigger ones can weigh as heavy as 30 kg! The diameter of each radish is about 40 to 50 cm in length. You can bring back processed and pickled radishes as souvenirs. There is a small plot of land in front of the rest house where radishes are being cultivated. Small mikans are also a specialty of Sakurajima. One of the food that you should try here is the mikan soft serve! The flavour and texture of the soft serve is fabulous - sweet with a well-balanced tinge of sourness. The usual souvenirs such as biscuits and cakes are also on sale here and are made from the locally produced mikans.

Afterthoughts. Though the time spent in Sakurajima was short, I was satisfied with all three places/attractions covered within a short time span. As a city dweller from Singapore, a country which is unharmed by natural disasters, I am amazed to see how humans can inhabit on a land with an active volcano and cope comfortably despite the looming dangers of volcanic eruption all year around. Continuous spurting of volcanic ash brings along inconvenience to the lives of the locals, but ironically this is what makes the land fertile for agriculture. Sakurajima, a dangerous yet attractive island - hope to explore this place more in future!

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Michi no eki Sarakujima Hinoshima Megumikan Rest Stop 道の駅桜島日の島めぐみ館
〒891-1419 鹿児島県鹿児島市桜島横山町1722-48
Opening hrs:
Farmers' Market: 0900 - 1800 hrs;
Restaurant: 0900 - 1700 hrs;
Closed on 3rd Monday.
http://www.megumikan.jp/

How to get there? 
Exit from Sakurajima Pier and turn right. Turn left at the first traffic light junction. Approx 5 - 10 minutes walk from Sakurajima Pier.


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Commemorative stamp: 

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