~ japan day 10: A.P.U. ~

02 January 2006
once again, ari is a guestwriter in this entry again. he’s helping me finishing up this neverending story…

We took the bus again to Kannawa and since it was way past lunch time, we were famished. We got some Bento boxed lunches to eat when we get to APU, at a Family Mart next to the bus stop. When we got out of the shop, we saw that our bus had just left. Luckily, the next bus was only 3 minutes away.


The scenery from Kannawa to the top of the mountain changes drastically. The landscape which was filled with concrete buildings blowing white steam to the air changed to rolling golden hills in just a few turns. If you didn’t know that you’re in Beppu, just looking out the window may give you an idea that you were driving on the rolling hills of a wheat plantation somewhere in the American Midwest. It’s such a drastic change.


The last stop in the bus route is the Asia Pacific University campus. We got off at the main entrance of the campus and was blown away by the view (literally as well since it was really windy). The campus is very nice. Although it was almost completely deserted because everyone was either away on holiday or huddled in their dorm room because of the mountain’s cold weather at this time of year. There wasn’t any snow on the ground, though, and pretty sunny. I’ve never seen a university campus this clean either. It was really easy taking pictures of the buildings. So we did. The campus itself wasn’t very big. It basically consisted of two large building clusters and the dorm area which is off to the side of the complex. The building architectures looked European. They remind me of the new (back then in 1997) Student Center at Carnegie Mellon. From the main gate, through the campus core that consists of a water fountain, the main outdoor hangout space for students, and towards the back of the campus I think there were more than one soccer fields complete with concrete bleacher seating. This is definitely a place for studying, since there wasn’t much else around.


We hiked up to the Lookout Point even though Jessi pointed that it had killer stairs. She was right, climbing up those steep steps was hard work. Especially on an empty stomach and in a weather like this. But we didn’t want to loose out on the daylight. The view that we got from up there was worth it. From the Lookout Point we could see all the way to Beppu at the foot of the mountain as well as the bay area. We all took out our cameras and clicked away. At the Lookout Point, which is not a part of APU anymore, there is a bus station and a huge parking lot for visitors.

We climbed back down the stairs towards the campus. As we struggled to keep our balance from the strong winds, we walked towards the metal bridge that connects the campus to the dorm area. The metal bridge even had shoulder-high wind guards to keep people from being blown off accidentally. There was an elevator at the end of the bridge that took us down 3-4 stories since the bridge actually goes over a road. According to Jessi, during the school days’ rush hours, this area proved to be a bottle neck. Some students choose to climb the stairs rather than wait for the single elevator that caters for the entire dorm population.

Jessi’s dorm is nice and cozy. The building was not too big, and had two wings. Her room has it’s own bathroom, although there’s a common shower area with stalls for the floor. Out the window from her room we could see a basketball court, and as we chatted away after a quick lunch at the common kitchen, we watched some students actually use it.

Before it got too late, the three of us decided to come back down to Beppu for Jessi to do some groceries. In Beppu, Jessi quickly did her groceries and was soon off to the bus stop for the APU dorms. It was only later that we realized, she should have stayed at our Minsyuku that night so we could spend more time with her. Oh well…


We were still full because of the late lunch, so we had coffee at the Jazz Cafe next to the Minsyuku. It’s a very colorful little cafe with a lot of character. The whole interior was filled with an eclectic collection of trinkets and paraphernalia from all over the world as well as Japan in the 50’s. We realized later that the cafe is connected to the Minsyuku and this guy in his late 40’s, his wife and another lady (probably his sister) runs the whole establishment.

He prepared a lovely tray of cake, chocolate and coffee for the both of us since we weren’t having dinner. From chatting with him, we found that the Minsyuku Kokage had been around for over 40 years and that he inherited the business from his father. We felt so honored when asked to fill out a page of their hand-bound “book of memories”. After saying good night, we headed back to our room and packed our bags for our journey home tomorrow.

addendum from thalia: actually, right after we came back from the Jazz Cafe, ari and i went for the minshuku’s onsen again. we thought, after a long day of walking, it would be great to soak ourselves in the hot water.

this time, i got smarter. during the wash, i made sure that the water is hotter, well, much hotter, than yesterday. i was hoping that my body would adjust better with the hot water in the tub. and it worked! i could get into the water much quicker and i can move around freely without feeling that tingling sensation everywhere. i also stayed a little longer in the tub. and i felt a lot more relaxed.

yay! i have mastered the art of bathing! ha ha ha…

too bad that today was our last day in Japan. i wanna do more bathing!

photo album: Japan Trip: Day 10 (2 January 2006).