Kagoshima is a decently large Japanese town that has the standards: a ferris wheel, a shopping arcade, historical sights, and tons of noodle shops. After perusing the internet for where to go, we decided on Tontoro Ramen.
This ramen joint is renowned in Kagoshima for it’s pork ramen that is served in a thick, rich broth. The pork melts in your mouth, and the cloudy broth is jam packed with flavor that compliments the tasty noodles. A giant bowl that is easily sharable will only set you back 1100 Yen, making it a solid frugal meal in Japan.
The hidden gem of Tontoro Ramen, however, are the dumplings. The dough is perfectly thin and stuffed with a slightly sweet pork filling that is juicy and bursting with flavor. It was so good we had to get two orders!
Post lunch, we hiked up to an overlook, stumbled upon a hidden shrine full of buddhas, meandered through the arcade, and enjoyed a relaxing day of exploration. Traveling via cruise ship can make it difficult to get the full essence of a place, but by my third contract, I nailed down the technique for getting the most out of each and every place.
My formula has three components:
- A local food experience
- Seeing a historical and/or religious site of sorts
- Walking around back streets for miles soaking in the atmosphere resulting in a step count nearing 20K.
I open up google maps, pin potential sites of interest related to point 1 or 2, and achieve part 3 on the journey to the various pins. The key is to be flexible and open to walking down unplanned routes if the road looks promising. This day, for example, we ended up taking a different path down the mountain than originally planned. We ended up on a highway that wasn’t pedestrian friendly, which is where we stumbled upon the Shrine of the Thirteen Buddhas. Buddhas are a dime a dozen in Asia, but there’s something special about finding a tucked away hidden gem we wouldn’t have found if we would have stuck to the intended plan.
Picking a couple “I absolutely want to see/do/eat that!!!” things, then taking the rest of the journey with arms wide open will lead to unforgettable travel experiences that won’t disappoint.