Monday, June 22, 2009

Down the river to the sea


A few weeks ago, before the onset of the rainy season and its attendant humidity, I took a little bike ride 20kms down the river to Gotsu.

The Gonokawa (Go River) is the longest river in West Japan, and is only 194 kms long. Now tamed by a single dam upstream at Hamahara, it is still a very pleasant river.


For most of its length there is a narrow ride running alongside the railway line, and a larger 2 lane road running along the opposite bank. The 10k from my village downstream to Kawahira is the only stretch that doesn't have the small road, so I cycled down the main road to the bridge at Kawahira.


There is not a lot of traffic, maybe one or two cars an hour, and just a few small settlements. Its not unusual to see troops of monkeys exploring the edge of the rail tracks.


Every few K there are Jizo altars, often looking the worst for wear, but still maintained by some of the locals.


Geologically speaking, the Go River is very young, and has yet to form an estuary or delta, but it does get a little wider and deeper as it turns the last horsheshoe bend before reaching Gotsu and the sea.


It was at this point that I discovered something quite remarkable, something I've driven past hundreds of times and not noticed. That's tomorrows blog.