A Walk Around Kyushu Day 14, Saturday February 23rd Around Usuki
Today is just going to be a half day as I am finishing this leg of my walk and heading home by train at lunchtime. I just have one temple to visit, Kozanji, up on the mountain overlooking Usuki, and as it is once again a beautiful sunny day I've worked out a circular route that will take me to the temple and back to the station via almost all of the tourist attractions and shrines that Usuki has to offer.
I head first to the ruins of Usuki Castle. This was the domain of the Otomo, and the daimyo was a Christian and so the town was a busy cosmopolitan port with trade ships from Portugal and China.
It was here in Usuki in 1600 that the first Dutch ship landed in Japan, carrying the Englishman William Adams. I climb up to the castle through a tunnel of vermilion torii, to the Inari Shrine.
There is another shrine in the castle grounds, but, like most castle ruins in Japan, little else remains except a view over the town. Next stop was the Inaba Residence, though it doesn't open until 8.30am so I have a little wait.
The Inaba were the rulers of the area in the Edo Period. In the Meiji Period they moved to Tokyo but built this villa as their second home. It was worth the wait. Though it is quite modern it is built traditionally and it has nice grounds. Lots of good photos with the early morning light especially as I beat the tourist buses.
I continue heading west, visiting a couple more shrines and temples until I reach the river and then head upstream until I cross the railway line which encloses the town. It's a narrow, shady mountain road up to the temple and it's nice to be in the quiet again.
I am glad also that I don't have my heavy pack with me. The temple itself is quite pleasant, set in an opening in the forest. Outcroppings of exposed rock around the temple buildings are covered in statues wearing vermilion bibs.
Heading downhill is always more pleasant than up!..... I get back to the town and on my way to the station I go via the Nioza Historical Street, an old stone road lined with Edo Period temples and buildings.
Apparently this is the centerpiece of Usuki's tourist attractions but I find it disappointing. Tsuwano, Omori, Kitsuki, are all far more interesting.
So ends this second leg of my walk. In the past 6 days I've walked across most of Oita Prefecture and really enjoyed it. A rough estimate is I have covered 370 kilometers, though with all the side trips I make its probably more. On my next leg in March I hope to cross most of Miyazaki.
A Walk Around Kyushu 13
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