{Japan: Explore} Off the Beaten Path: Arisa, Kyushu, Japan

arisa train station

One of the best things about having a JR Pass is having the freedom to throw your itinerary aside and jump on the first train to Anywhere, Japan.  Which is exactly what we did on our 2012 Japan trip.  We were in Kumamoto, Kyushu and all of a sudden I had a hankering to see something outside of the big city.  From Kumamoto Station we decided to take the JR Kagoshima Line to the first stop that struck our fancy.  While waiting for the train to arrive, we saw this old-school train come chug – a – chugging up to the opposite platform:

train, Kumamoto, Kyushu

Holy Smoke!

While the train wasn’t doing anything for Japan’s pollution problem, it really was a beautiful piece of machinery.  Within minutes, our modern train came speeding down the tracks and we were on our way!  After 30 minutes and 6 or so stops later, we decided to disembark and check out the surroundings of a little town called Arisa.

Arisa train station

The inside of Arisa’s train station.

After having spent so much time in some of Japan’s largest cities, Arisa was a refreshing change.  Lots of open space, with a number of Mom & Pop shops and modest homes lining the streets.  I’m sure a person born and raised in Japan would think Arisa looks no different than a million other small cities in this country.  But it was brand new to us and we were utterly charmed by the simplicity of it all.  And it was so quiet!  I don’t think we passed more than a few people the whole time we were there.  The rain may have had something to do with it.  It was mostly just drizzling, with a few patches of light showers.  On this upcoming trip to Japan, I definitely want to try a few more off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Arisa, Kyushu

Arisa, Kyushu

Arisa, Kyushu

Arisa, Kyushu

Arisa, Kyushu