Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Kaimondake the Fuji of Satsuma

Mount Kaimon is often called the Fuji of Satsuma, for obvious reasons. It dominated my view for the whole of day 33 of my walk around Kyushu. This first photo was taken at sunset.

This second photo was taken mid morning from Nishi Oyama Station, claimed to be the southernmost train station in Japan and a popular spot for selfies.

Kaimondake is 924 meters high and almost perfectly conical. It is classified as dormant, but last erupted in the late 9th Century.

There is a trail to the top and reportedly the views are great, but I could not afford the time and so walked past.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Cherry Blossom Viewing 2020

Cherry blossom viewing, Ohanami in Japanese, has been going on recently, though with somewhat less of the usual drunken revelry found in big city parks. I personally prefer the plum blossoms, but I obviously lack the required amount of Yamato damashii. This first photo is what I see in my neighbors garden on my way to my garden each day.

While working in my garden I can see this line of trees alongside our little commuunity center. Behind the center is another line of cherry trees in bloom, a long line from there up to the main road, and a line of them in front of the shrine.

The hillsides in every direction are mottled with yamazakura with a range of tints from  white to the red of middle of the blossoms after the white petals have fallen off. These pointillist canvases I find far more appealing.

Of course when I return to my house, this is the view I have. I planted this cherry tree right in front of my door a couple of years after we moved in.

The blossoms in these last two photos are the most exciting for me though. The first photo is of my lima bean plants, and the second  my pea plants. These blossoms indicate that, barring any misfortune, I will soon have plenty of fresh, organic, delicious food to eat....

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hiraki Ki Shrine

Kirakiki Shrine, sometimes called Hirasaki Shrine was quite unexpected. I visited it around the middle of the 33rd day of the Kyushu Pilgrimage and was not expecting such a grand shrine in such a location, but apparently it was the ichinomiya of Satsuma.

No date for its founding, though it is believed it used to be located at the base of Kaimondake, the volcano not far to the south and to which the precincts line up. It last erupted in the late 9th Century.

Lots of vermillion and carvings. most of the buildings date back to the 18th Century. The main kami is said to be Amaterasu which would be why the chrysanthemum crest is on they torii.

There are 8 other kami listed for the main shrine, one of whom is Sarutahiko, and I don't remember coming across his name in this neck of the woods. It is a very popular shrine at all times of year. The real delight for me though was what I found in one of the buildings........

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Isotake Beach

Day three of my walk along the Iwami Kannon Pilgrimage, and to get from the outskirts of the village of Isotake to the harbor and main part of the village I decided to cross the main road and walk along the beach.

We have a lot of nice beaches in the Iwami area, and this one is not bad.

As is normal there was some stuff washed up. Mostly floats and bits of rope... stuff from fishing boats usually.

Isotake is named after Isotakeru, one of the sons of the great Izumo deity Susano. According to the myth Susano and Isotakeru arrived here from the Korean Peninsula, and the shrine at the harbor has more details...

Of course it wouldn't be a Japanese beach without tetrapods...

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ibusuki Sunrise

One of the delights of walking pilgrimages in japan is that you need to get up before the sun and head out. This means you get to see the "Golden Hour", that period of time around the sun rising when the light is golden and the shadows strong.

On the 33rd day of my walk along the Kyushu Pilgrimage, I headed out from Ibusuki and the sun was rising over the Osumi Peninsula to the east.

I have mentioned before that where I have been living for many years now is in a narrow valley and that therefore I normally do not get to see either sunrise or sunset, so for me they are really special as I used to live seeing both everyday. Sorry if these sunrise pics are boring to you.

On this day I would be passing the southernmost point of my walk around Kyushu. The southernmost point of Kyushu is across the bay on the opposite peninsula. I will be stopping at the southernmost railway station in Japan. As yet I am not near the halfway point of the walk.

Friday, March 27, 2020

To Cape Muroto Day 12 Walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage

From Temple 23, Yakuoji, to temple 24, Hotsumisakiji, on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage it is more than 80k, and is they first of the long distances between temples. For most pilgrims who do it by tour bus or car it is just a couple of hours, but for those walking it is usually 3 days.

The second half of this route is fairly uninhabited with long stretches of road with the sea on one side and mountains on the other. There are a few small settlements and a few small shrines and such, but it is a nice long stretch with nothing but traffic for company.

I i9magine that if the weather is not so good then maybe it is not so enjoyable, but when I walked it the weather was fine, the road was flat, and the views good.

At lunchtime I disturbed a troop of monkeys feeding the trees at the side of the road... I guess about 20 to 30 of them.....

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Nanohanakan Details

As I mentioned last post, here are some more shots of the bizarre architecture at the Nanohanakan sports complex in Ibusuki, Kagoshima.

Like so many similar projects around Japan, it is a monumental piece of architecture spawned by the booming economy of late 20th Century Japan.

Like many of the other examples it is falling into ruin, but for me and the kind of photos I like to take, it is a goldmine.

The architect was Kagoshima-born Takasaki Masaharu, and this final shot is reminiscent of another of his works I have seen......

Sunday, March 22, 2020


While walking towards the Satsuma Denshokan I notices some curved, gleaming-metal shapes sticking up above the skyline not far away so after visiting the museum I headed over to investigate, and was not prepared for what I found.

Nanohanakan is a sports park and complex with some seriously bizarre architecture that is all the more strange because it is virtually all closed down and bereft of all but a few old people playing gateball in a huge indoor arena.

Sites like this are scattered all over the hinterlands of Japan, built with Bubble-era cash and with many now closed down, this place ranks, to me at least, one of the most outrageous. There was a massive indoor swimming pool, numerous arenas for sports, meeting rooms for conferences and such, and even an accommodation block with rooms.

Given the cash by the central government, architects and construction companies made a fortune, but local government was left with the operating and maintenance costs, and the hoped-for crowds never materialized.

This place was designed by architect Takasaki Masaharu, a native of Kagoshima. I have seen another of his structure up in rural Kumamoto. I find these places fascinating, as a photographer, and will post some more pics next....

Friday, March 20, 2020

Sankei-en Garden

Sankei-en Garden is not an old garden, it was constructed in 1993 as part of the redevelopment of the land around the construction of Hiroshima Airport in the mountains NE of the city. It is a stroll-type garden and as the name suggests is divided into 3 zones or "views"

Mountain, village, & sea represent the three landscapes of Hiroshima. The large pond filled with koi represents the Inland Sea with several small islands accessed by bridges. As you enter the garden you start on a building and floating platform that is modeled on the famous shrine on Miyajima.

The village zone has lots of plum, maple, and bamboo as well as irrigation channels, and the mountain zone has lots of natural forests and a waterfall. It is particularly nice to visit in the autumn which is when it gets the most visitors but is usually not at all crowded.

The garden has a large number of different species of Iris and an Iris festival is held in June. Obviously, if you are flying into or out of the airport it is worth a visit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Shikoku Pilgrimage temple 38 Kongofukuji

Situated at the southernmost point in Shikoku on top of Cape Ashizuri, Kongofukuji Temple, the 38th temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage was reached after 3 days of walking from the last temple. I arrived on the 23rd day of my walk and as it turns out this was the halfway point.

According to the legend it was founded by Kobo Daishi himself who is also credited with carving the Kannon statue. Like the southern tip of Wakayama, people set off from here to reach Fudaraku, Kannon's paradise.

There is lots of statuary and the colored stones around the pond are impressive. I have heard that some may be petrified wood, but I don't know. Though relatively remote and not so easy to reach it is a surprisingly popular destination.

Its remoteness may have been one of the reasons why it wasn't damaged in the early Meiji years like so many of the other temples. Definitely worth the effort to visit. The temple does have lodgings, sometimes, but there are plenty of hotels nearby.