Thursday, May 20, 2021

Umi Shrine


I reached Umi Shrine not too long after leaving Yama Shrine. There was no information board at the shrine and I have been unable to find out anything about it from any source. It did appear to be even less used than Yama Shrine and there were absolutely no statues of any kind.

The approach to the shrine was somewhat dramatic, but in fact not very natural. Japan suffered major deforestation in the Edo Period when forests were cut down to build castles and castle towns, and the Shogunate did instigate a tree-planting campaign, around the same time as Germany created their tree-farming methods.

However, the massive expansion of these sugi (Japanese cedar) tree farms where whole mountains are covered in trees of the same age and in lines is a product of postwar bureaucracy/ These unnatural forests are very prone to landslides and lacking any natural undergrowth drive deer, bears, wild boars, and monkeys into raiding villages for food. Meant to be a profitable source of building materials, Japan now imports most of its timber from the USA where it is cheaper.

I was coming to the end of my first day walking the Kyushu Fudo Myo Pilgrimage and had chosen to spend a couple of days walking the Kunisakihanto Minemichi Long Trail which closely followed a more ancient pilgrimage route around the Kunisaki Peninsula. This last section was mountain trail whereas most of the day had been spent on small roads.

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