Showing posts with label concrete. Show all posts
Showing posts with label concrete. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Day 14 on the Ohenro Trail Winds Down

Ohenro Trail Day 14

Ohenro Trail.

The famous Shikoku Pilgrimage, known as Ohenro, was the first formal pilgrimage I walked. Hard to believe it is now over ten years ago. In early October 2011 I was on the 14th day of walking

These are a few of the snapshots I took towards the end of the day. Most of the day had been taken up with the climb to Konomine-ji, the 27th temple of the pilgrimage, and Konomineji Shrine nearby. Coming up the coast I stopped in at Cape Oyama

Tosa, the former name of Kochi, was one of the instigators of the Meiji Restoration, and there were statues of some of the major figures from Tosa associated with it. This is Ryo Narasaki, wife of the famous Ryoma Sakamoto.

For a section the path followed a cycle trail through the pines planted along the beach.

Like most areas of Japan, there were Kappa legends around here.....

As sunset approached I reached my destination for the night, the Haginori zenkonyado. Zenkonyados are free lodgings for walking pilgrims provided by individuals rather than temples. Hagimori-san is well known among walking pilgrims as a source of up-to-date information on free lodgings on the route. His little cabins are located under the elevated railway near Nishibun Station. Two other pilgrims stayed that night..... not a busy time on the route...


Buy tatami direct from Japan

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Imaura Harbor


Continuing with the  second day of my in-depth exploration of the Sea of Japan coastline,I left the bounds of Gotsu and entered the realm of Oda and visited the harbour of Imaura.

I have passed through Imaura several times before while walking the narrow roads that hug the cpast here, but had never taken the side road that drops down to the fishing harbour.and was surprised by how big it was.

There are a lot of small islets and rocks just offshore that must provide some protection for the narbour, but like most places along the coast of Japan it is now protected and enclosed by massive concrete walls. The sheer amount of concrete poured  along the coast of Japan is probably not known to outsiders.

I wonder about the value of all the fish produced by this little harbour and if it ever approached the cost of all the concrete construction. But that was not the point..... LDP politicians will have won votes and concrete and construction companies will have made profits.

Set back up on the slope away from the waters edge a line of ramshackle fishermens huts suggest that before all the concrete this was probably just a protected beach rather than a harbour.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Views of the Inland Sea. Kinoe to Takehara Ferry


The Seto Nakai, or Inland Sea, is dotted with islands and islets, and while many have now been connected by bridges to each other and the mainland, there are still dozens and dozens of small ferries plying the waters. These photos I took on the ferry from Kinoe on Osaki Kamijima Island to Takehara in Hiroshima. Shipbuilding and repair is still a major industry on many islands.

Most Japanese seem blissfully unaware of the incredible amounts of concrete that are poured in Japan compared to other countries.

The island with the two transmission towers on it is Okunoshima, now most famous as "Rabbit Island", less famous as the site of a WWII poison gas factory, and almost unkown as the home of the tallest electricity transmission tower in all of Japan.

Some of the smaller islands have become floating factories. Not sure what is being produced or processed here.

Of course small fishing boats continue to operate.....

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cement Town Tsukumi

Cement Town Tsukumi

Tsukumi is a small fishing port on the coast of Oita between Usuki and Saiki that I walked through after visiting temple 29, Kaiganji.

Kust inland is a massive limestone quarry many times larger than the town itself, and the fishing harbors are overshadowed by a large port that ships out the cement. In between is a complex of industrial infrastructure that processes the material.

To get through the town means passing right through the maze of factories, smokestacks, conveyor belts etc.

By any criteria, ie per capita, per acre, etc etc Japan produces more concrete than anywhere else in the world.......

Yuzukosho (yuzu pepper) is a signature product from Usuki & Hita

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sanbe Dam

The second temple on the Iwami 33 Kannon pilgrimage (actually the first "extra" temple) is located on the mountainside above Sanbe Dam. Thats Mount Sanbe behind.

Seeing how aged the concrete is I was surprised to learn that the dam was not finished until 1996, although construction started in 1980.

The dam is a little over 54 meters high and 140 meters wide at its crest and is composed of 110,000 cubic meters of rock and concrete. Ostensibly the purpose of the dam is flood control and to supply water to Oda City, but its real purpose is to funnel money to construction companies.

The small reservoir has a capacity of 7,000,000 cubic meters of water.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Golden Week-end walk

Golden Week

Concrete Wabi Sabi: Virgin tetrapods.

I took advantage of the spell of wonderful weather this past weekend to go for a 40k walk. I wanted to walk the last section of the Shimane coast that I had not yet walked. I started out at Kasaura, a little village up on the Shimane Hanto (peninsular) north east of Matsue. I headed up the cape that protrudes north, passing through Noi, where I found a wonderful example of an old-style mikoshi in the local shrine.

Being the Japanese coast, I was never far from tetrapods.

On up through Sezaki, then over to Konami, all just little fishing villages with a few hundred inhabitants. I like these places. The houses are so close together there are only narrow passageways and steps between them, making labyrinths. I could see the shrine on the hill but I had to enlist the help of a passing local to help me navigate through the maze to find the steps up.

Being the Japanese coast, I was never far from concreted mountains.

And on up through Tako to Okidomari, the northernmost settlement on the tip of the cape. Concrete aside, the coast is quite spectacular, with white beaches and a clear, turquoise sea.

There are lots of rugged cliffs, little islands, sea caves. At times the coast of Shimane reminds me of Cornwall.

Then back down the cape along the only road back through Konami to Nonami, a "town" big enough to have three shrines, one of which was mentioned in the 8th century Izumo no Fudoki.

At the Hinomisaki branch shrine I spent at least 30 minutes chatting with three middle-aged ladies. There were the usual questions, where are you from, where are you going, what are you doing. I explained how I walked all over Shimane visiting shrines, learning the stories, histories, etc. One lady seemed to have a hard time getting her head around it. She kept asking "why?", but no matter what explanation I gave she blurted "But they are Japanese kami!!". Reminded me of a recent conversation wher I mentioned to a young woman that I made kagura masks and she replied..."BUT!! you are not Japanese!!!!"

Nihonjinron. The true Japanese religion.

And so I headed on,... the sun was a few hours from going down and I needed to find a nice place to sleep. On though Kaka, the place to take the boat tours to the Kaganokukedo. No boats were going out today though as it was way too windy. And on through Owashi, visiting shrines in each village. I noted that the majority of shrines had female kami.

I made my bed on the cliff above the roaring surf looking down on Mitsu, and beyond it the nuclear power station at Kashima. Built on a faultline that is much bigger than originally claimed, a second reactor is planned to be built here. (when I got home Yoko told me that the company had just publicly apologized for not replacing 530 parts that should have been replaced as part of scheduled safety maintenance)

I love sleeping outside, and I don't do it often enough! I watched a sublime sunset, and then woke regularly through the night and watched the full moons progress across my ceiling.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Battleship Island

Since Gunkanjima re-opened to visitors last year the tours have proved to be very popular. I was lucky to get the very last seat. The part of the island that is open is at the industrial end, and visitors are fenced in and herded by guides.


When inhabited the island had schools, a hospital, a temple, shrine, a brothel, cinema, and a pachinko parlor. All things that are needed for a civilized life. However absolutely everything had to be shipped in from the mainland including all the fresh water.


The guides give plenty of explanations and information (in japanese only), and the island has applied for World Heritage status, but they would need to make an effort to make information available in English. Of course there is a part of Gunkanjima's history that the guides don't mention.


During the last years of the war the mine, like most mines in Japan at that time, was worked by slaves, mostly Korean and Chinese. The slaves were of course not paid, and the regulations for controlling the slaves called for "extreme camp security, inferior clothing, overcrowded sleeping quarters, primitive sanitation with no bathing facilities, limited medical care, and minimal amounts of the poorest quality food—which was to be withheld as necessary to ensure discipline." Obviously, the death rate was very high.


While some Japanese companies that used slave labor have apologised and paid compensation, Mitsubishi, probably the company that benefited most from slave labor, have absolutely refused to pay anything, and their continued denials make for a sad indictment of Japanese corporate greed, though the main thrust of their argument is that to admit to it would saddle Japan with "a mistaken burden of the soul" for hundreds of years. An excellent article on the subject is here

 To make the place a World heritage Site without dealing with this unsavory episode of its history would be a mistake, I think.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Battleship Island: The ultimate haikyo

Gunkanjima (Battleship island) is the nickname of Hashima, a very small uninhabited island about 15k from Nagasaki. Why that is its nickname should be obvious from this first photo.


Originally much smaller than its current size, at the end of the 19th Century coal was discovered under the island and Mitsubishi began mining. As rock was brought up from the tunnel digging it was used to expand the island and protect it with a big sea wall.


At the mine's peak in the late 1950's the island had a population of 5,300 people, which translates to a density of 216,264 people per square mile, certainly among the highest in the world.


In 1974 the mine closed and all the people moved off, and the buildings began to crumble. Incidentally, Japans first large concrete building, a 9 storey apartment block was built here.


There are regular tour boats from Nagasaki that circle the island, and since 2009 there have been tours that actually visit the island, though only a small section, fenced off, is currently accessible, but the plan is to extend the accessible sections. Photos from on the island tomorrow.


Fans of the 2012 James Bond movie "Skyfall" may think they recognize the island, and in fact it was used as a model for the lair of the villain Raoul Silva, but it was filmed on a lot at the studio in London.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Concrete Wabi Sabi Mountainsides

Concrete Wabi Sabi: Mountainsides

Concrete Wabi Sabi Mountainsides.

Any look at the aesthetics, or economics, of concrete in Japan would have to look at concreted mountainsides.

There is no doubting that Japanese mountainsides are, by and large, steep. That comes partially from Japan's "newness" geologically speaking, and that steepness causes problems that can be remedies by concrete.

But whether the truly staggering amounts of concreted mountainsides in Japan are truly necessary.... thats another thing.

Like many of the roads, bridges, tunnels, and tetrapods, their function is more to provide profits for concrete and construction companies. And jobs of course.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Japanese tunnels are built


Our new tunnel will shorten our drive down the river to Gotsu by a little more than 200 meters. Being straight the tunnel will also be more fuel efficient to drive. A rough calculation says that with present traffic density the fuel savings will have paid for the tunnel in only a few million years. Incidentally, that is my village to the left of the tunnel.


This is the machine that actually drills its way through the mountain. I was expecting to see a huge machine almost as big as the tunnel.... watched too many movies I guess! These smaller drill splay out at any angle.


The next stage is to put up steel arches and then a series of steel beams are driven into the mountain radiating out from the tunnel. Then the tunnel is coated in a thin layer of concrete.


The purpose of the steel beams is to stop the tunnel collapsing under the weight of the mountain, represented here in this demonstration by steel nuts.


Next a thick, waterproof, plastic membrane covers the inside of the tunnel followed by a frame of reinforcing rebar,


The final stage involves this huge machine on rails which is a movable form. Its used to pour the final inner walls of the tunnel.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tunnel under construction


We are getting a new tunnel!!!
This will make the drive to Gotsu at least 15 seconds quicker.
Well worth the billions of yen it's costing.


On Tuesday the construction company had an Open Day so that members of the public can view and inspect where all their tax money is going.


It was kind of cool, though I would rather have seen it with the men and equipment in operation.


Tomorrow I will post about the construction method.


About 300 meters in, only 363 more meters to go!