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Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30 Across Kagoshima City

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30
Across Kagoshima City
Tuesday July 30th, 2013

I am going to be based here in Kagoshima for another two nights, so for today's completely urban section of the walk I can leave my heavy backpack in my room.

Priest at temple in Kagoshima

By now the oppressive summer heat has become bearable and today's clearing skies offer a slight reduction in humidity. The plan is to head back out to the northern edge of the city and walk across it visiting the two pilgrimage temples here and head south out of the city as far as I can.

Hemmed in between the mountains and the sea, Kagoshima is not very wide, but very long. I find the first temple tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. Not much to speak of and there is no-one around.

Most pilgrims carry a nokyocho, a book for collecting stamps and calligraphy from each temple, but at 300 yen a pop I don't carry one so I don't have to disturb anyone at the temple.

With 108 temples on this pilgrimage, times 300 yen, that would buy me 8 or 9 nights accommodation, much more important on my limited budget. An hour later I reach the next temple, closer to downtown. It's a modern concrete building raised off the ground to provide parking spaces under the building. As I climb up the steps to the main hall the priest comes out and invites me in for a tea and a chat.

He asks if I would like some prayers for the rest of the journey and so we go outside and stand in front of the Kannon statue while he chants for me. As I make to leave he hands me a can of coffee and some fruit, o-settai, gifts given to pilgrims.

On the Shikoku pilgrimage o-settai is fairly common, often from strangers. Here in Kyushu I have had some, but most of them have been given by priests or their wives at the pilgrimage temples.

I carry on south through the anonymous, urban environment. The names of the banks may change, but so many of the stores and businesses are national chains. I make a detour to the campus of the Kagoshima University where there is a new auditorium designed by the famous architect Tadao Ando.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30 Across Kagoshima City


The sun breaks through when I arrive which allows me to take advantage of the shadow for some nice photos of it. It's interesting enough, and I appreciate Ando's work the more I see of it, but like too many pieces of modern architectural design the surrounding buildings, power lines, and such, don't allow the design to show itself off.

Another couple of hours and I reach the southernmost station of the city tram, so call it a day. Being high summer there is till a lot of daylight left so I head to the aquarium to see what it has to offer.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 29

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yatsushiro Grand Hotel

八代グランドホテル

The Grand Hotel in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto, is a full service hotel offering wedding and banquet services, but has rooms priced less than a budget business hotel.

Yatsushiro Grand Hotel, Kyushu, Japan

 Yatsushiro is the terminus of the privately owned Hisatsu Orange Railway Line which runs down the coast to Satsumasendai, the JR Hisatsu Line which runs up the Kumagawa River to Hitoyoshi, the JR Kagoshima Line which runs up to Kumamoto and beyond, and Shin Yatsushiro Station on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line.

Yatsushiro Grand Hotel Room


The hotel is situated on the main road less than 1km from JR Yatsushiro station and 1.5km from Yatsushiro Castle.

The Yatsushiro Grand Hotel has free parking, 24 hour reception, coin operated laundry, wi-fi in the lobby, and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The rooms are standard, with ensuite bathroom and toilet, TV, fridge, kettle, and internet connection.

For a room with no meals I paid a mere 3,400 yen, a remarkable bargain.

Yatsushiro Grand Hotel, Kyushu


Yatsushiro Grand Hotel
Chodori, Asahi 10-1, Yatsuhiro
Kumamoto 866-0844
Tel: 0965 32 2111

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Monday, April 14, 2014

"Back where we belong" in Japanese: yori o modosu

よりを戻す

"getting back together," "turning the clock back," "starting over" are sentiments of one-time friends, partners and lovers  the world over.

A common way of expressing this feeling in Japanese is the phrase yori o modosu よりを戻す.


To those who know a little Japanese, the yori might seem unintuitive as it is usually encountered with the meaning of "more than," e.g. Kocha yori kohi ga suki (I like coffee more than tea.)

But actually yori/yoru  has all sorts of meanings, backed by various different kanji.

For example, there's yoru 寄る that's all about drawing near, coming/bringing together; e.g. washed up seaweed, i.e. seaweed that has been drawn to shore, is called yorimo 寄り藻.

There's, admittedly, the not so common 選る or 択る meaning to select, pick out, choose (according to a purpose or criterion).

There's the 因る (also able to be written 由る, 依る, or 拠る, but nearly always rendered in hiragana) that is the second kanji in gen'in 原因, or "cause, origin":  It is probably more familiarly encountered as よって、i.e., to be based on or "according to" or "from" or "by," as in Kare no hanashi ni yotte midori da (According to what he says, it's green.), or Chiiki ni yotte hatsuon ga kawaru (The pronunciation differs by district).

But getting back to the yori of the title, this one is written 撚る, meaning "to twist." Written as 撚り, it becomes the noun "twisting." modosu means "to restore," so to "restore the twisting" is a thread-based metaphor in which strands that have become untwisted are retwisted back into a single thread.

So "restoring the twisting," "getting re-entwined," "reopening dialog," "wrapping yourselves around each other again"—however you want to envision it—yori o modosu is all about reliving the good old times with someone.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Japan News This Week 13 April 2014

今週の日本

Japan News.
In a Test of Wills With China, U.S. Sticks Up for Japan New York Times

Japan’s biggest pop star right now is a fetishized hologram
Global Post

Play on Japan's Singaporean legacy
BBC

Massive scale of Toyota recall down to increase in common car parts
Guardian

Activists sue over Abe’s ‘unconstitutional’ Yasukuni visit
Japan Times

Japan’s Energy Policy Impasse 日本のエネルギー政策、行き詰まる Japan Focus

Japan’s Foreign Minister Says Apologies to Wartime Victims Will Be Upheld New York Times

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Ranking of country according to different environmental indices:

1. Switzerland
2. Luxembourg
3. Australia
4. Singapore
5. Czech Republic
6. Germany
7. Spain
8. Austria
9. Sweden
10. Norway

12. UK

26. Japan

33. USA

43. South Korea

118. China

Source:

Environmental Performance Index

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Ibusuki Sand Baths

指宿の砂むし温泉

Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture is known for its volcanic sand baths (砂むし).

About 10 minutes walk south from Ibusuki Station, the Saraku Sand Bath Hall or Sunamushi Kaikan Saraku is the biggest sand bath facility in the area. Here the sand on the beach is infused with hot water from deep underground.

Yamakawa Sand bath, Kagoshima, Kyushu


After taking off all your clothes and donning a yukata, you are buried in the sand by an attendant. 10 minutes is the recommended limit before you push yourself out and walk back to the Saraku Sand Bath Hall to shower and take a water hot bath and sauna if you so desire.

Ibusuki Sand Bath, Kagoshima, Kyushu


The sand bath in central Ibusuki is not the only one in the area. There is another smaller sand bath, Yamakawa Sand Bath on the beach near the large Healthy Land spa and Flower Park Kagoshima.

Ibusuki Sand Bath, Kagoshima

The procedure is the same but this sand bath had some delicious onsen tamago and onsen-steamed potatoes to enjoy after your sand burial.

Yamakawa Sand bath, Kagoshima

Climbing up the cliffs behind Yamakawa Onsen are good views along the coast to Kaimondake (Satsuma Fuji.)

Sand baths are supposedly more effectively than normal onsen in the healing process. Sand baths are said to be good for rheumatism, lumbago and neuralgia.

Sunamushi Kaikan Saraku
Tel: 0993 23 3900
Yunohama 5-25-18, Ibusuki, Kagoshima 891-0406

Yamakawa Sand Bath
Tel: 0993 35 2669

Hot spa boiled eggs


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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Aichi Loop Line

愛知環状鉄道線

The 45km long, north-south Aichi Loop Line connects Kozoji Station in Kasugai with Okazaki via Toyota in Aichi Prefecture near Nagoya. Despite its name the line does not perform a loop but runs roughly north from Okazaki to Kozoji which is north east of central Nagoya.

Aichi Loop Line train at Shin-Toyota Station


The Aichi Loop Line (Aikan) serves as a commuter line for workers at the car plants at Mikawa Toyota.

The main intersection stations are Okazaki Station on the JR Tokaido Line, Naka-Okazaki on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line, Shin-Toyota, a short walk from Toyota-shi Station on the Meitetsu Mikawa Line, Yakusa on the Linimo, Setoshi close to Shin-Seto on the Meitetsu Seto Line and Kozoji Station on the Chuo Main Line.

Aikan train at Shin-Toyota Station


Visitors to Toyota Kaikan should alight at Mikawa Toyota.


Aikan

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Monday, April 07, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 29 Hayato to Kagoshima City

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 29
Hayato to Kagoshima City
Monday July 29th, 2013

It's an overcast and showery day as I make my way to temple #43, Hojo-in. Several times I open my umbrella for short showers as I stop in at a few shrines before reaching the temple. It's a fairly small urban temple with not much to see, though I do notice some glass wind bells with prayers/wishes written on paper hanging from the clapper. I don't remember ever having seen such things before.

Hojo-in, Kagoshima


After a short walk I reach the concrete shoreline of Kagoshima Bay. From here the main road hugs the coast all the way down to Kagoshima city. Ever since I first studied the maps of the route of the pilgrimage I have been looking forward to this section, mountain to one side, water on the other, and views of Sakurajima all the way. I follow the feeder road and am then confronted with an extremely busy road with no sidewalk!!

Of course, roads without sidewalks are commonplace, but they will often have a white line with a meter or more of shoulder that is ostensibly for pedestrians, but here the shoulder is about 15cms, and with the spray coming from the speeding trucks and cars it is really dangerous and impossible to walk. I am livid!

Sakurajima, Kagoshima


Pedestrians, outside of many city centers, are simply ignored by road planners. There is no way I can safely walk down this road without causing the traffic to slow right down to pass me. I check my maps and see that the only other route would be to head inland and go through the mountains which would mean doubling the distance and involve a lot of climbing. There is simply no provision for anyone to walk to Kagoshima. And why should there be? Pedestrians do not contribute to the economy and are therefore a waste of space. The only solution is to backtrack a few kilometers to the last station and take a local train down the coast and hope to find a place where the road has a sidewalk. The train line and road run right next to each other and looking out the window about half-way down the coast I see where the sidewalk begins so alight at the next station.

The sidewalk is wide... at least three meters... and I slowly start to lose my anger at the road builders. At one point the road divides and in the space between is a small shrine built around a rock outcropping. An oasis of stillness between the rushing traffic. The rain seems to have stopped but the clouds that roll overhead are dark and swift. Sakurajima pierces the clouds so I can't tell if it is spewing smoke like it does so often, and then it happens again..... the bloody sidewalk ends!!!!

The gap between the white line and the guardrail is only centimeters, but this time I am not going to walk back 4 or 5 kilometers to the station and take a train, I am going to walk and to hell with the traffic. I stride off as fast as I can. Behind me is the hiss of air brakes as trucks slow right down to pass me. I am sure the traffic is backing up and I am being cursed by drivers for whom time is money, but I am a human being and this is not an expressway off limits to humans... dammit I have as much right to travel this road as the vehicles.

About 500 meters along I come to a small lay-by with a bus stop and checking the timetable I learn that a bus should be along in ten minutes so I sit and wait. I know that on Shikoku where there are many walking pilgrims, complaints by them about the dangerous lack of sidewalks has led to the construction of new sidewalks in many places, but as far as I can tell I am only the second person to walk this Kyushu Pilgrimage, it's designed for car pilgrims, so it would do me no good to complain. The bus comes as promised, and I head into Kagoshima and my hotel, the Cent Inn. I am a few hours earlier than I expected so head out to explore. Tomorrow I will go back to the north of the city and walk across it.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 28

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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Japan News This Week 6 April 2014

今週の日本

Japan News.
A Passion to Pitch: Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka Epitomizes the Japanese Approach to Baseball New York Times

Japan was ordered to stop hunting whales in the Antarctic
Global Post

Japanese mafia launch website
BBC

'Comfort women' deserve a memorial: their ordeal must not be forgotten
Guardian

Fukushima-linked cancer surge unlikely: U.N.
Japan Times

Critical New Stage in Japan’s Textbook Controversy 歴史教科書の引き続く受難 Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Japan Ends Decades-Long Ban on Export of Weapons New York Times

Statistics

Victims of child porn in Japan hit a record in 2013.

According to the National Police Agency, victims of child porn came to 642, which was 22% higher than the highest previous record. Statistics have been kept since 2000.

Source:

Jiji Press

The number of crime syndicate members - made men in the Japanese yakuza - fell below 60,000 last year. That is the first time the number has fallen below that figure since 1958, when statistics first started being kept.

A record low 22,861 gangsters were charged by the police last year.

Source:

Jiji Press

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Ryugu Shrine & Cape Nagasakibana

龍宮神社

Ryugu Shrine is situated at Cape Nagasakibana (長﨑鼻) on the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Ryugu Shrine, Kagoshima Prefecture

Ryugu Shrine is a modern construction built to cash in on the legend of Urashima Taro, who is said to have come from this area. The fairy story of Urashima Taro involves a fisherman saving a small turtle from being terrorized by kids. In return, the turtle (or in some versions a larger turtle that appears the following day) invites Taro to Ryugu Palace at the bottom of the sea, where he meets Otohime (Princess Toyotama), a beautiful incarnation of the small turtle Taro had saved.

Ryugu Shrine, Kagoshima, Kyushu


After staying at Ryugu Palace for three days, Taro wishes to return to see his aging mother. Otohime gives him a box called tamatebako, which she says will protect him from harm but which he is not to open.

When Taro returns to his village no-one recognizes him and his mother is gone. In fact, 300 years have passed since Taro left. In panic, Taro opens the tamatebako from which white smoke comes out and ages Taro 300 years.

The shrine buildings seen today date from 2011. Turtles still come to lay their eggs in the area but it was rather strange to see stuffed ones for sale in the souvenirs on the road down to the shrine and the light house at the cape.

Cape Nagasakibana


Ryugu Shrine
Yamagawa-okachiyogamizu
Ibusuki
Kagoshima 891-0513
Tel: 0993 22 3252

There are Kagoshima Kotsu buses from Yamagawa Station on the JR Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. Nearby is the impressive Flower Park garden with thousands of variety of flowers and the nearer Nagasakibana Parking Garden (1200 yen; 8am-5pm) with tropical plants, parrots and monkeys.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Ryumon Falls Kagoshima

龍門滝

Ryumon Falls close to Kagoshima Airport in Kagoshima Prefecture is a pleasant place to linger if you are returning a car rental to the airport.

Ryumon Falls Kagoshima Kyushu


The waterfall is on a walking trail that also includes the nearby Kinzan Bridge and Ryumonji-yaki, an ancient kiln set up by Korean potters kidnapped by the feudal lord of Satsuma during Hideyoshi's campaigns in Korea at the end of the 16th century.

Ryumon Falls Kagoshima Kyushu Japan


Ryumoni-taki is located on the Amikakegawa River and is 46m high and 43m wide and is noted as one of the "100 famous waterfalls in Japan."

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