A Walk Around Kyushu Day 15, Wednesday 20th March Usuki to Tsukumi
I arrive in Usuki to begin the next leg of my Kyushu walk at lunchtime on the Spring Equinox. Day and night will be of equal length today so I should have plenty of daylight to complete the rather short 15 kilometer walk over the mountains to Tsukumi.
The shortest route is to take the main road straight up and over the line of mountains that separates the two towns, but I opt instead to take the slightly longer old road which means going down the coast aways before heading over via a curvy, switch-backed road.
This route has the advantage of not climbing as high as the main road and in all probability much less traffic. I head off from the station and pass the shipbuilding yard. I'm always surprised to find big ships being made in such small, out of the way places.
I pass through one small fishing village. It's a wonderful sunny day and there is little traffic. At the next fishing village I head up into the hills. The first day of a hike is usually the hardest... out of condition and with 15 kilos on my back its slow going.
The road keeps winding back on itself and once I gain some height I can see Shikoku off on the horizon. By expecting the climb to be much harder than it actually is I am surprised when I reach the highest point, a tunnel punching straight through the mountain. It's old, narrow, dark, and wet, but there hasn't been any traffic for 10 minutes or so and its only 350 meters long so I make it through easily.
On the other side I see an awful sight down below.....a huge white valley and in front of it a massive industrial complex. Somewhere down in there is Tsukumi. This is limestone country, and the white valley may well have been a mountain, but now it has been devoured and passed along numerous conveyor belts to the town where it has been crushed and turned into cement and gravel.
Downhill all the way now, and this kind of walking is really enjoyable. Not steep enough to damage the knees, but steep enough to let gravity do much of the work.
When I reach the coast I turn left to the next village above which is the next temple, Temple 29, Kaiganji.
Kaiganji turned out to be a very pleasant temple. Lots of statuary, including a big white elephant, an unusual statue for Japan. There was also a fine pair of Nio.
After the temple its time to head to my hotel on the other side of Tsukumi. To get there I have to pass right through the middle of the industrial jungle. The public road winds through the area that the map tells me is Cement-machi, Cement Town.
Conveyor belts and huge pipes pass over the road. Everything is covered in a light gray dust, and the noise!!!!
They produce about 5 million tons of cement a year here, and most of it is shipped by boat to the Kanto area. Obviously Tokyo needs concrete. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live in such a place, though millions and millions all over the world do.
On the other side Tsukumi seems like a fairly nondescript fishing port. The manhole covers proclaim it to be a "Sports City".
A Walk Around Kyushu 14
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