A Walk Around Kyushu
On Christmas Day, 2012, I began what I estimate will be a 2,000 kilometer walk around the island of Kyushu.
I plan to roughly follow the route of the Kyushu 108 Sacred Sites Pilgrimage, a modern creation designed mostly for car and bus pilgrims and it will take me through each of the seven prefectures of Kyushu and most of the major cities.
I do not consider myself a particularly religious person, but the pilgrimage offers a convenient framework for the walk and it will take me to places I would probably not normally choose to go.
Last year I walked the 1,200 kilometer Shikoku Pilgrimage and I found it a wonderful way to explore country that was new to me. Walking has numerous benefits as a mode of travel: its affordable!, its healthy, but mostly it offers a way of seeing things that would otherwise be missed.
It has been my experience that in the out of the way places, away from the main tourist haunts, there are interesting sites to see, histories to discover, and people to meet, and zipping by in a car, on a bus or a train they remain invisible.
I have visited Kyushu several times, though I have never visited the southernmost prefecture of Kagoshima. Miyazaki and Kumamoto I have only made very brief forays into.
Fukuoka and Oita, I have both visited several times but there remains much un-visited, so in the main I will be going places I have not been to before. I will be in the cities and the deep countryside, in the mountains and along the coasts. I wish to experience the full diversity of Kyushu.
I am guessing that it will take about 70 days, but I don't plan to complete the walk in one go. I have gardens to look after and other commitments that make it impossible to have such a big chunk of free time, so I will be walking it in sections and hope to take around a year.
I only plan on walking in 4 of Japans' seasons: the Rainy season and the Typhoon season I plan to avoid for obvious reasons, but each of the other seasons have their own character that will show different aspects of the place.
When possible I will be staying at cheap business hotels, in the smaller towns and villages in minshuku, but I will be carrying a full pack so there will be times when I will have to sleep out, on the beach, in the woods, etc.
I will be visiting lots of shrines and temples. I am fascinated by the diversity of art that can be found there, and also, shrines in particular, are repositories of local history, legend, and myth. There are also many sites that my route will take me by that I know I want to see, but the most important thing will be the surprises and the unexpected.
So, please join me each week here on Japan Visitor Blog as I recount my experiences of each day of my journey.
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