special Envoy on the island of Kyushu,

If the perfection is of this world, it was probably in the form of a fruit shop Sato Fruits of Fukuoka, the capital of the island of Kyushu (Japan). In this shop that the family Sato holds for four generations, selling fruit perfect”. Behind this name emphatic hides in fact a tradition deeply rooted in the japanese culture. “On the occasion of a birth, a holiday, or a meal between friends, to offer a piece of fruit has nothing trivial. It is a gift very appreciated,” stresses Yasuko, a resident of Fukuoka particularly attached to this type of attention.

At the shop Sato Fruits of Fukuoka, the capital of the island of Kyushu, it does not sell as “fruit perfect”. Guillaume Mollaret

From the outside, the trade does not pay mine. Inside, however, the stalls do not have that fruit to the geometry, pure and elegant. Here, a diet of banana, of which the rounding seems to have been traced to the compass. There, a yellow apple, the curve so drawn that it’s like the output of a manga ; just to the side, a khaki if shiny and chubby as its price reaches the 20 euros a piece! Perfection comes at a price. Thus, to meet their hosts, the Japanese do not hesitate to spend 10 to 15 euros for a single apple, or a pineapple… if not more!

Beautiful shinto shrine

With its small boutiques to discover in the streets of the historic district Hataka, Fukuoka flourishes around a magnificent shinto shrine, the oldest of the whole island of Kyushu. Lined with buildings and located not far from a commercial gallery, it offers a rest area and quiet welcome in an urban area saturated.

When the evening comes, the large arteries remain choppy. And there is no doubt that they will be even more this fall on the occasion of the rugby world Cup (20 September-2 November) when the team of France will come to Fukuoka to face the United States. Fans can also dine at the japanese, in Yatai.

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Little expensive, these small huts installed in the edge of the sidewalk, only curtains separate it from the street, offer a cuisine popular and tasty. Sitting on a stool around a counter of fortune, in front of a cook will échinant to feed continuously a pot-au-feu (Oden), it speaks loudly and relaxes by drinking alcohol from sweet potato, barley, or chestnut baptized shochu. An island of conviviality and human warmth (at less than 10 euros) in a country whose understanding of the cultural codes may apply to a life before being tamed.

Kumamoto and Mount Aso To Kumamoto, the horse meat is a specialty that is eaten in small amounts, and preferably raw. Guillaume Mollaret

further south, to a little less than 2 hours on the road, the small town of Kumamoto is famous for its meat. We are not talking here of beef, such as Kobe, but from a horse. It is best enjoyed in small amounts, and raw preferably. We come from all over the Archipelago to enjoy. Far from the clichés of a Japan where the prices are deemed prohibitive, a complete meal in a fine restaurant will pay about 25 euros… With as a bonus a view on the castle which is not quite recovered from the earthquake suffered in 2016.

in Addition to its culinary qualities, Kumamoto is the theatre of a garden. We do not speak here of the lawn of the stadium where the XV of France will play against Tonga in early October, but the garden Suizen-ji. Say that the acre of this park is a journey is not quite an exaggeration. Created in the Seventeenth century by a local lord, this garden is the miniature representation of two of the 53 stages of the road of the Tokaido, the legendary road connecting Kobe to Edo (former name of Tokyo). Through this representation, the lord wanted to show the beauty of Japan then representing Mount Fujiyama and lake Biwa of Kyoto, some japanese do not hesitate to compare Lake Geneva (!).

The garden Suizen-ji, was founded originally fully in the landscape of the volcanic chain of Mount Aso. Guillaume Mollaret

“originally,” says our guide, the garden Suizen-ji, as represented here, is based fully in the landscape of the volcanic chain of Mount Aso, which extends to the west. Unfortunately, with the development of the city, the landscape that seemed to be past infinity since the garden is now obstructed by buildings”.

To discover and to apprehend the Mount Aso, it is necessary, therefore, to take his car. In an hour, we reached a plateau the false air of Larzac and the Lozere, the craters in the vicinity in addition to the analogy hexagonal. The air is pure, and the prairies grassed vegetation. They spoil of cows and oxen, whose meat is marbled and melts and makes the delicacy of the region. The chaîne des Puys does not seem so distant… And yet! Noticeable difference: the volcanoes here are still active. Access to the crater of Mount Aso is easy by car but its waters bubbling with the smell of sulfur do not always approach. According to the volcanic activity, the parapet with a view down on to the crater is closed to the public for a period of which the nature is the only one able to decide.

At the source of the Onsen

Rocky and wild, the island of Kyushu is in constant motion because of its volcanic activity. In the extreme south of the island, the volcano overlooking the city of Kagoshima smokes a continuous steam of ashes, more or less thick. The streets are covered and cleaning it is akin to the myth of Sisyphus. It is here that the first christian missionaries came to evangelize Japan have docked. On the other side of the bay, some of the institutions offering Onsen (baths, gender-specific of natural hot springs where you can bathe naked) with a breathtaking view of the mountains formed at the discretion of the earthquakes. Enjoy on the outside, and flush a cold river, is a luxury that the nature surrounding the smoking Mount Sakurajima seems only to be able to offer.

Nagasaki, the city martyr with a rich history of trading in The Memorial of Nagasaki Guillaume Mollaret

beyond The landscapes, Kyushu was, in the Story, the gateway of Japan to the Europeans. Located not far from Korea, the island has seen dock (specifically in Kagoshima), the first christian Portuguese came to the mission as early as the Sixteenth century. During the period of isolation of Japan from 1641 until the Meiji era (1868), Nagasaki was home to the only port in Japan where the trade with Europe and China could operate. Also, a form of cultural exchange is experienced as rarely in the Archipelago.

The history of these pioneers, for many became martyrs, is better known since the release of the film Silence of Martin Scorsese in 2016. The survivors, known as “hidden christians”, are not owed their salvation only to a discretion extreme about their faith. Of this influence, Kyushu has not forgotten everything. Nagasaki, a city she is also a martyr, a guard in it this story. Hit by an atomic bomb three days after Hiroshima, it is also the city bearing the traces of this past, especially because surrounded by valleys, the breath of the bomb was not completely shaved-to the contrary of Hiroshima.

On the heights of the city, so we can visit a park with colonial-style houses, as well as a pedestrianised centre dominated by the basilica, the first in Asia. Listed from 2018 at the Unesco world heritage site, it is only the thin visible part of a more general set of a dozen “sites of the hidden christians” sheltered in the region. A aspect too obscure of a city and an island of Kyushu, which, raw, was never completely left to tame.

BOOK PRACTICE

go

There are no direct flights between Paris and Fukuoka. Flight duration: 16 hours minimum stopover understood. Prices: from 560 euros in eco class. Flights via Seoul with Korean Air or Air France ; Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong ; Air China via Shanghai, or Japan Airlines via Tokyo.

Automobile

Attention, like the English, the Japanese lead the wheel to the right. The roads are in excellent condition provide a GPS because the signs are not necessarily written in our alphabet.

Seven Stars, a train is not like the others

The island of Kyushu can also discover by rail. In 2013, the national society of railway has inaugurated the first train cruise of Japan. Each year, the Seven Stars changes its route on the island. Arranged in the manner of a Orient Express, it offers a luxurious setting, quiet and gourmet travel in stages, punctuated by excursions. Bookings for this fall will open as soon as April. Seven Stars provides two types of trips: 2 days, one night or 4 days 3 nights. After 2500 or 5000 euros depending on the type of cruise chosen www.cruisetrain-sevenstars.jp).

Where to sleep

The Tenku No Mori (forest, heavenly, in japanese) suggests it is very rare – an Onsen private. Guillaume Mollaret

To the city as in the countryside, the price of the hotels is similar, to a standard equal to, the prices charged in metropolitan France. Blow of heart luxury for Tenku No Mori, a Relais & Chateau located in the prefecture of Kagoshima. The meal is prepared and served at home. In addition to an exclusive view of the volcanic chains nearby, Tenku No Mori (forest, heavenly, in japanese) offers -this is very rare – an Onsen private. The places are equipped with a heliport. Five lodges spread over a hundred acres make up this hosting space absolutely out of time. The places are often full several weeks in advance. From 2.418 € for two persons with dinner and breakfast www.relaischateaux.com/fr/japon/tenku-no-mori).

dining

To know: In Japan, restaurants are generally more expensive in the evening than in the noon.

The Yatai are small cabins travelling. It is found almost everywhere in the streets of large cities. Full meal for 10 euros approximately.

Horse. Kumamoto is famous for its restaurants at the base of horse meat. Shiromiyagura is one of them. Of 17 to 35 euros for a full menu (www.shiromyagura.com).

Nagasaki, the cake castella has been imported by Portuguese missionaries. Guillaume Mollaret

The castella or kasutera is a small cake made of egg, flour, malt syrup and sugar. Imported by the Portuguese missionaries, it is now a specialty of Nagasaki that is best enjoyed in a thin slice.

Onsen. Easy to take advantage of these baths of hot water drawn in the center of the earth. Number of hotels are filled. They are non-mixed and swimming naked. Those offered outside, when the evening comes, are the most relaxing. Blow of heart for the one provided by the hotel Kayotei of Kirishima in Kagoshima prefecture (www.kayoutei.jp).

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