A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 20 (Part 2), Monday March 25th
Hyuga City to Takanabe
I head out of Mimitsu and stay on the minor road that runs parallel to the train line, shielded from the sea by low trees. A quiet road with nothing but rice paddies flooded in preparation for planting and the occasional train rushing by.
Curiously there seems to be another line running alongside but it has no overhead power line. It's elevated like a shinkansen track but by the aging of the concrete its obviously somewhat older.
Most curious of all is that above the track it is covered in solar panels. I think maybe it is a conveyor belt system to transport quarried materials to a factory or port but it is silent and I don't remember passing anything like that. The reality is much more surprising and interesting.
It is the Miyazaki Test Track for the experimental Maglev train! Built in 1977 and running arrow straight for 7 kilometers, in 1979 they attained a speed in excess of 500 kph.
In 1996 a new test track opened in Yamanashi and the maglev program moved there, but this track was used for another type of experimental train, something called "wing in ground effect," that if I understand it correctly means that instead of using a magnetic field to suspend the vehicle off the ground it uses small wings to create air pressure.
I don't know if the experiments are continuing, and I don't know if the massive line of solar panels is to power the project or just generating electricity to be used on the regular train line or be resold. A little further and coming in to a village my eyes are attracted to splashes of vivid color on the hillside.
It's a small shrine, engulfed in cherry blossoms, and behind it the hillside has been denuded of trees and planted in azalea bushes that have been pruned into curved shapes. The combination of white, bright green, pink, and red is striking indeed. From here I head back inland to the main road to find the next temple, Gyoshinji, temple 35.
Gyoshinji is set back from the road in the woods and like so many temples nowadays is made of concrete. A plain wooden torii frames a path leading into the woods. Lined with statues, the dark path opens up at a lovely cascade of water falling down the rocks, surrounded by dozens of statues of Fudo Myo-o.
This is the kind of place I am always hoping to discover. A place of natural power where ascetics have purified themselves for centuries. I'm energized and though its been a long day already I head off again with a renewed spring in my step.
Coming into Tsuno, the only town of any size I've seen today, I pass through a large torii and enter into what turns out to be a big shrine. With wide gravel paths and a delightful landscaped koi carp pond and garden this was the Ichinomiya, first ranked shrine, of Hyuga province, the earlier name of Miyazaki.
I chat with the priest and he tells me that here was where Jimmu, the mythical first emperor of Japan, descended from the mountains and began his conquest of Japan. The main kami enshrined here is Okuninushi, the Izumo kami who "ceded" Japan to the descendants of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu.
More research for me to do when I get home!. On the other side of town I stop in at the next pilgrimage temple. Quite uninteresting. Another couple of hours and the sun has already set when I finally reach the banks of the Omaru River at Takanabe and my hotel for the night. It's been a very long but full day.
A Walk Around Kyushu 20 (Part 1)
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