Panaroma on the open road (Photo: Groucho)

Kagoshima to Fukuoka by motorbike

An adventure through Kumamoto

Panaroma on the open road (Photo: Groucho)
Steve Leavett-Brown   - 3 min read

Let me introduce the 3 Blind Mice motorcycle touring club founded in Osaka, Japan in 1993 by one Scot, one Aussie and an Englishman, none were blind nor mice, but read on.

The Aussie, Steve Leave it-be, has now ‘left the building’ i.e. returned home to his native land. The Englishman, Mike-sensei, worked in almost every university in the Kansai (Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe) region in the ’90s. His whereabouts is now unknown. And the Scot, Jules, Big W. remains in the land of twisting turns, 1000-year old Buddhist temples and some of the friendliest bikers on Earth.

If you want to know a bit more about the founding members of the bike riding club, and their motorbikes, please read the article about our ride to Kyoto and Lake Biwa, north-east of Osaka.

This is Part 3 of Steve’s Osaka to Kyushu ride in mid-winter. Part 1 saw me get as far as Beppu in the north eastern corner of the island of Kyushu. In Part 2, I arrived cold and miserable on New Year’s Eve in Kagoshima at the southern tip of the island, but now in Part 3 you’ll find out why the view in that southern city is truly breathtaking in more ways than one.

Sakurajima is a massive active volcano which lies less than 10km due east of Kagoshima, a city of 700,000. When I say active it’s not in danger of spewing molten lava and killing thousands of residents, or tourists, it is active in the sense that every day huge clouds of thick grey smoke emerge from the mountain top and rain down on the very fertile surrounding land. The last major eruption was in early 2009 with an ash cloud shot 2km skyward, but no-one was injured. Kagoshima grows the biggest and tastiest ‘daikon’ Japanese radish and while I’m not a radish fanatic, I’m told they taste heavenly! The view is also breath-taking because you don’t want to get the smoke in your lungs. It’s not toxic, but it’s certainly not pleasant when the wind blows the wrong way.

But for me it was time to saddle up again and head north towards Fukuoka, the largest city on Kyushu Island. Halfway on the rain-soaked road in wintery windy conditions was Kumamoto with its fine old castle and Mount Aso, a truly active volcano, and one you can’t get too near for obvious reasons. It had a much smaller whiter ash cloud than the majestic Sakurajima when I visited, but I believe it is far more dangerous to the public and there’s no city close by.

I then had friends to visit in Fukuoka, a warm and inviting city in summer with a wonderful bay and parks aplenty.

Steve Leavett-Brown

Steve Leavett-Brown @steve.leavett.brown498

Steve is one of the three founding members of the 3 Blind Mice motorcycle touring club, along with one Scot and an Englishman –none were blind nor mice, but read my stories to find out more!