A Walk Around Kyushu
Takanabe to Miyazaki City
Tuesday March 26th, 2013
It's an overcast morning as I head off, but no rain is forecast. Before I continue on my way down the coast towards Miyazaki city I head inland a few kilometers to see something I discovered while researching this leg of my trip.
Called Takanabe Taishi, it is a collection of 700 statues of Buddhas and gods on a hilltop overlooking the town, but these are unlike any other statues you can see in Japan. They were not made by an artist, but rather by a local man who retired from his business at aged 40 and then spent 40 years carving these statues. They are blocky and angular and look like they were carved by kids but therefore have a primitive fascination.
I come down the hill and cross the river into the town itself. I really wanted to visit a shrine about 10km upstream that enshrines a Korean prince, but it would take too much time. I stop at a convenience store for breakfast and while sitting outside sipping my coffee a man comes up and wordlessly hands me a bunch of bananas.
My white pilgrims jacket at work again.
Takanabe itself is rather dilapidated and run down and seems devoid of any economic vitality. Too far from any major city to function as a suburb it is like so many other rural towns in Japan. I pass through the town stopping in at a few shrines and head up onto a small plateau and am back again in the countryside. It looks and feels like it could be in England, save for the stands of bamboo. I pass a huge, ramshackle two storey chicken barn held together with wire and patches of chicken wire and dozens of recycled doors and windows. A pair of worried -looking chickens are clucking around outside trying to find their way back inside.
A little further I pass a series of sleek, grey boxes with no details, very industrial. A new chicken "ranch". The road joins back up with the main highway running south and for an hour or so the scream of low flying jets disturbs the air. I am passing Nyutabaru Airbase, and it seems very active and busy, mostly with fighter jets.
In a local park an older jet is on display. No protests here against low flying jets over residential areas. Japan does not have a military, as I am often told, so what I am seeing here must be in my imagination.
The road gets busier and busier as I approach the outskirts of Miyazaki City. A few kilometers off the road is an interesting shrine I want to visit, the burial site of Amaterasu the Sun Goddess, ignored when the modern Japanese state went on a frenzy of shrine building and expanding to honor their own imaginary history, but I am too tired.
When the sun goes down I hop on a train into the city center where I have a cheap hotel room for three days. Tomorrow I will come back out and walk in and around the city.
A Walk Around Kyushu 20 (Part 2)
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