Six Yummy Different Flavours
Are you getting your five a day? Staying healthy on the road is not easy unless you happen to travel along route 207 between Isahaya and Takori, where delicious fruit shaped bus stops wait to be savoured. They come in six yummy different flavours and there is bound to be one for every taste. Do you prefer zesty oranges or sticky sweet melons or aromatic strawberries but maybe you would pick savoury tomatoes?
Japan is sprinkled with peculiar, at times even bizarre and crazy sights. It is partly what has always fascinated us about the country and Jerome has always enjoyed these silly sights since he was little. The selection of kawaii fruit bus stops near Isahaya had always enchanted me when I saw reports of them and had been high on my endless list of places I still wanted to explore and discover in Japan. I even planned this trip to Kyushu to include the cute bus stops as a priority, although I had anticipated dreamy blue skies for a backdrop of my photos instead of grey moody skies.
The tasty fruit shaped bus shelter had been designed and built for the travel Expo in Osaka in 1990, some 750km away, trying to draw visitors to this remote corner in Kyushu on the calm Ariake Sea. Over the years they had lost their vivid sheen but thanks to a recent lick of paint, possibly due to the constant stream of curious travellers, they have stayed a successful, instagramable attraction.
Getting There and Around
Our original plan was to cycle along the coastal road from Nagasato, but it had been changed to a more lengthy drive past them taking in a day trip from Kumamoto via Unzen Hell and Yanagawa. Alternatively the bus from Isahaya itself may be used to hop between the fruit shaped bus stops starting from the local train station, albeit both forms of transport are infrequent, so jumping off for photos at each one could be a challenge. I have even heard of tourists using a taxi but I am sure that must come at a steep price! Alternatively, why not stay at the lovely Kaiyoukan Ryokan near the last melon bus stop?
Perfect Photo Oportunity
We were excited, despite the drizzle and kept an eye out for the first bus stop to arrive. Jerome and I would be jumping out of the car, running for shelter under the kawaii fruity bus stops and taking photos as soon as we found one, while his Dad was more happy to mostly stay in the dry car, admiring them from afar. We did not mind getting wet feet and our umbrella added an interesting dimension to the pictures.
Detour to Sazankakougen Park
Despite the wet weather we met other crazy tourists and received some inquisitive stares from locals, although we would have thought that they should have been used to people touring these giant fruits. On one occasion a bus even stopped, the driver must have thought we were waiting for a ride! Anyone interested to collect the complete fruit salad, should head up route 195 towards Sazankakougen, a fun park with a big wheel, carousel and extensive herb garden, a fun detour with little ones on fairer weather. Sadly we had to give the only mikan orange bus stop a miss, staying on the coastal road towards Saga.
Our Favourite Fruit Cocktail
After sampling the entire fruit bus stop cocktail Jerome favoured the orange, Chris the strawberry and while I absolutely loved the honeydew melon shaped bus shelter. Jerome also suggested they could have added other fruits into the mix, why not a pumpkin or persimmon?
Where we stayed in Kyushu:
Sankara Resort treat yourself to a truly luxurious stay on the island.
Kirishima Kokusei for those wanting to stay in Kirishima Onsen
Ryokan Shinsen if you fancy a luxury ryokan experience
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