Showing posts with label kagoshima. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kagoshima. Show all posts

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Fall Colors... Sunset... & Illuminations at Sogi Falls

At Sogi Falls in the mountains of Kagoshima around Isa City the fall colors were in full swing. A big park is there and that was where I was planning to sleep out, but I did not forsee that the place was lit up at night so there werelots of security guards to protect the generators and lights and such.

As the sun went down I headed across the old bridge and found a suitable place to lay out my bag and then headed back to the park to take some more photos.....

There were very few people and with the illuminations of the waterfalls and the river gorge as well as the foliage it was unusual and a nice surprise

Sogi Falls is not so well known but certainly worth a visit if you are in the area

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sogi Falls... Niagara of the East

A little before sunset I arrived at my planned destination at the end of my 37th day along the Kyushu Pilgrimage. All day I had pretty much followed the Sendai River upstream and I was bushed as I reached Sogi Falls.

A grand 12 meters in height and about 200 meters across, they are certainly pretty waterfalls, but "Niagara of the East"?

Downstream a short way is the brick facade of a power station built in 1868. Now partially submerged  by a reservoir created by the big dam downstream, the local tourist literature proclaim that it is reminiscent of a medieval European castle........ I personally think these spurious analogies are absurd.

The bridge you can see in the photos a little upstream of the falls has now gone. It has been replaced with a new cable-stayed bridge just downstream of the falls. My plan was to sleep out at the falls, but that was not to be.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Chiran Samurai District

I wandered around the Samurai district in Chiran early in the morning before tourists had arrived. I recently posted on the gardens found in many of the former samurai residences. It is a Preservation District of Groups of Traditional Buildings, one of about 120 such districts around Japan, and I have come to enjoy most of the ones I have visited, though the better ones tend to be, like here in Chiran,  off the beaten track

Primarily one street, it is lined with well-constructed stone walls topped with impenetrable hedges. To get into any residence or garden you have to pass through a high-walled corridor that twists and tiurns at 90 degrees several times, a classic defensive arrangement found in many castles.

This was a semi-fortified village. The Shogunate decreed that each domain must only have one castle. This resulted in many castles being dismantled, and others moved. It was also decreed that all samurai must live within the castle town. Here in the distant lands of the Satsuma in southern Kyushu, this last law was ignored.

The Satsuma placed settlements of samurai throughout their domain, Chiran being just one. This was obviously a defensive measure by the Satsuma, but may also have been simple logistics, because the Satsuma had a high percentage of samurai. A figure of 10% is often considered the percentage of samurai in the Japanese population, but here in Satsuma the figure was above 20%.

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.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Tsukiyomi Shrine Sakurajima

Tsukiyomi Shrine is not a big shrine, but it is the largest shrine near Sakurajima, the active volcano and former island across the water from Kagoshima City.

The shrine was moved to its current location after lava flows overran its previous location. It is just a short walk from the ferry port so gets many visitors. From the shrine there are good views of the volcano.

As the name suggests, the main kami at the shrine is Tsukiyomi, common ly known as the kami of the moon. Tsukiyomi came into being when Izanagi purified himself after visiting the underworld. Amaterasu and Susano were created at the same time. Amaterasu and Susano are much more well known. Tsukiyomi barely gets a mention in the ancient chronicles

Also enshrined here is Konohanasakuya Hime, who was the first wife of Ninigi, the grandson of Amaterasu sent to earth to rule over Japan. She is considered the kami of Mount Fuji and all volcanoes.

Thursday, February 20, 2020



Sakurajima is the large volcano clearly visible across the water from Kagoshima City and a landmark of the area. It is the most active volcano in Japan with plumes of smoke and ash visible many times a year.


The name Sakurajima means "Cherry Blossom Island" though it is no longer an island. A major eruption in 1914 resulted in lava flows that connected the island to the mainland and so it is now a peninsula.


Visiting Sakurajima is one of the most popular activities for visitors to the area, and a constant stream of ferries shuttle back and forth from Kagoshima.


Obviously visitors are not allowed too close to the volcanoes but a small tour bus goes to an observation point so you can get a closer look.


A major eruption is expected within 30 years.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Mansion for Foreign Engineers in Kagoshima

Mansion for Foreign Engineers in Kagoshima

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
Ijinkan Foreign Engineers Residence in Kagoshima

Built in 1866 to house British engineers that were constructing a modern spinning mill as part of Satsuma Domains importation of Western technology, the Kyu Kagoshima Bosekisho Gishikan is usually known simply as Ijinkan. Since 2015 it has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meiji Industrialization.

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima

In 1862 an Englishman, Charles Lennox Richardson, had been cut down by Satsuma samurai for blocking the advance of their lords procession. Known as the Namamugi Incident after the village where the act occurred, the English demanded reparations and apologies, which they got from the Japanese government but which Satsuma absolutely refused. Consequently in 1863 a squadron of Royal Navy ships entered Kagoshima waters and bombarded the town. The town had been evacuated but there was plenty of material damage and a few Japanese were killed. More English were killed by the return fire, and both sides claimed victory.

Ijinkan Foreigners mansion in Kagoshima
The front porch of the Ijinkan in Kagoshima

The Satsuma, however, must have been impressed with the British because they very soon sent a group of students to England to study, even though this was illegal under Japanese law. They also sent samurai to purchase machinery and hire engineers to install the machinery and teach its use. It was for these engineers that the mansion was built.

Main hallway inside the Ijinkan Foreign Engineers mansion in Kagoshima
Main hallway inside the Ijinkan Foreign Engineers mansion in Kagoshima

Built in what would now be called "colonial" style, an English engineer oversaw construction, but it was built by Japanese carpenters and so includes elements of both cultures architectural elements. The inside has many displays and artifacts about this industrialisation process and the engineers and machinery. nearby is the Shuseikan, one of the stone built factories containing some of the machinery and more displays about the time. There are also a few other wooden, western-style houses in the vicinity like the former head office of the Serigano Gold Mine Comopany.

Former Office of the Serigano Gold Mine in Kagoshima
Former Office of the Serigano Gold Mine in Kagoshima


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Cat Shrine

Cat Shrine

Cat Shrine ema

Nekogami Shrine is located in the grounds of Sengan-en gardens in Kagoshima and was moved to this location when the Shimazu family moved into their summer villa here after 1868.


The story is that the 17th Shimazu lord took seven cats with him when he took part in Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea in 1592. The legend says that the cats were used as timekeepers on the journey as time could be told by the dilation of their pupils in the sunlight, but I would take that story with many pinches of salt.

Cat Shrine

On his return to Japan only two cats had survived and so in 1602  he enshrined them in Nekogami Shrine. It is now a hugely popular spot for cat lovers who leave ema votive plaques to memorialize cats who have died and also to pray for the health of living cats.

Cat Shrine

Cat Shrine

Purchase a selection of ema from GoodsFromJapan

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Sengan-en Gardens

Sengan-en was the summer estate and gardens of the Shimazu Clan who ruled over what is know called Kagoshima. It is located north of downtown Kagoshima and covers more than 12 acres.

It was built in the middle of the 17th Century and includes the main manor house and numerous other structures including a pavilion built by Ryukuan vassals. The large, park-like gardens were built in Chinese style and utilizes the "borrowed scenery" of the bay and the volcano Mount Sakurajima.

The Kyokusai garden features a meandering stream and this was the site of parties that involved poetry drinking games. A cup with sake would be placed at the top end of the stream and while it floated downstream a tanka poem need to be composed and read. Failure to do so meamnt the forfeit of having to drink the sake. Hardly an inducement for success I would have thought.

There are many other features including shrine, gates, lanterns etc, and here was where the Shimazu began their attempts to set up western industrial practices that are now World heritage Sites.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kagoshima Cathedral

I did post on this topic many years ago, but as my older posts no longer have photos I thought I would post a revised version. Located in downtown Kagoshima, the cathedral was built in 1999 to celebrate the 450 year anniversary of the arrival in Kagoshima of Francis Xavier in 1549

A church was built here in 1909 but was destroyed during WWII. A new church was built in 1949 to celebrate the 400th anniversary. Some stones from this church were used to build a memorial to St. Francis Xavier located across the street from the cathedral.

The exterior is quite striking, but the interior is sublime, being flooded with colored light from the stained glass windows. It also has a nice pipe organ, something quite rare in Japan.

It is a catholic church, but all are welcome for services on Sundays. For the rest of the week the church is open to visitors with no entry fee.