Day 4: Kazusa Dolphin Watching Cruise --> Unzen Jigoku Hell --> Shimabara Spring Group (Carp Streets) --> Shimabara Castle --> Samurai Houses --> Dejima --> Hotel
The next time, I should time-stamp my photos. I realised that I'm not exactly sure whether we stopped for lunch first or whether we went to the Unzen Jigoku Hell first. I have a tingling feeling that its the latter. And since I didn't mention lunch in the last post, it'll be in this one then.
Anyway, lunch on Day 4 was a recommendation by our guide: Rokubee (六兵衛). The specialty was a local noodle that was made from sweet potato flour mixed with grated yams. The dish was apparently named after a man called Rokube. It is believed that he had invented this dish to prevent the people in Shimabara from dying during a period of famine.
Rukobee is a small family-run establishment with bar and tatami seating. While the place couldn't sit many, we realised that their traffic flow was constant during the entire time we were there. People just kept popping in and out either to dine in or for takeaways.
Rokube itself is a very simple dish; noodles in a soy-based broth topped with chopped green onions and grated yam. The noodles themselves were an acquired taste. We all agreed that it was springy but while I enjoyed the taste, my parents didn't particularly like it. Nevertheless, we all drained the bowl of the hot broth which was a warm welcome to the tummy after a morning out in the brisk air.
The highlight however, was a hot bun that was made from the same sweet potato and yam flour. Now that one was seriously yummy! I would have happily swapped my bowl of noodles for that bun! Initially we only ordered one to try but the minute we all took a bite, we ordered a second one for the road!
Before proceeding to Shimabara Castle on our itinerary, our guide again recommended another pit-stop, the crap streets of Shimabara. Again, this was something that had initially caught my eye while planning for the itinerary. During planning, I had decided to skip it in fear that there would be too much walking and a lack of time. Hence, it was great when our guide assured us that while there would be some walking needed, it was well-worth it and only a quick pit-stop.
And boy, I'm glad we listened to him about this.
We started at the designated tour office. There's a mini-shop next to it, so you can stock up on drinks. Strongly recommend that you do so especially if you're visiting in the summer and in the afternoon. While you walk the streets, the sun will be beating down on you.
The real fun starts after you move out from the tour office and walk along the streets. The highlight of this area were the craps that could be found swimming in the area's drainage system! Yup you read that right! Carps in drains!
My parents and I were highly impressed by how clean the water was in the drains. They were even linked to some koi ponds in some houses. We were told that the residents took pride in their crap street and worked to maintain the area. Simply amazing! I cannot envision this kind of community pride happening anywhere in Singapore!
As assured by our guide, this was a pretty quick pit-stop. We took only about 30 to 45 minutes to marvel at the fishes before we were beaten back to the tour office by the hot mid-day sun.
I'll highly recommend this as part of a driving itinerary for sure. It's a quick stop with a lot of Instagram-worthy shots. Besides, I doubt there'll be many places where you can say that you've seen carps swimming in drains.
Address: 1-5916 Hagihara, Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture
Local Address: 萩原1-5916
Operating Hours: 10:30 am to 11 pm, open on Sundays too.
Shimabara Spring Group (Carp street of Shimabara)
Address: Block 2, Shin-cho,Shimabara
Local Address: 〒855-0843 島原市新町二丁目
Admisison is free, and parking available near the tour office