A Walk Around Kyushu
Kirishima Jingu to Hayato
Sunday July 28th, 2013
It's another cloudy day, so that should make the heat a little easier, though after three days of walking in sweat-drenched clothes, I am now getting used to it. Today the route is pretty much straight south to the northern edge of Kagoshima Bay, and it should be pretty much downhill all the way, my favorite kind of walking.
It looks to be at least a 400 meter descent. I stop in at a few small shrines and after coming over a small rise I can see Sakurajima looming in the distant muggy haze.
I pass through an area of old, decrepit love hotels and, not being able to pass a haikyo experience by, go in and explore. Like most of the older, rural, love hotels, its composed of detached cabins.
Exploring inside the rooms, turns out to be quite disappointing. Nothing sexy or erotic, just rather musty and plain rooms, though all the furniture, fridges, etc are still there.
Pressing on past a couple more closed love hotels I see the most unusual roadkill I have ever come across, a tiny bat.
It's on the sidewalk and not at all squished, so maybe it was knocked out of the air by a vehicle. Coming down into the flat valley floor that leads to the edge of the bay I spy a vermillion torii on the opposite side of the valley and take the detour to investigate, and I'm glad I did.
In the shrine grounds four men were practicing some form of martial arts. It might well have been kendo, but it was a form of kendo I've not seen before. Usually the kendo I've seen has just been with a single opponent, but here there were a series of poles in the ground and the "swordsmen" strike first at one, then twist, turn, step forward, go down on one knee, then strike at another pole.
The practice is for taking on multiple opponents at the same time. The second arrangement of poles they set up is for taking on four opponents. I've spoken to friends who have done kendo, and they were of the opinion that this was not kendo, but another form of sword-based martial arts. Whatever it is I am pleased to have been able to see it.
From here into Hayato, the town I have a hotel room booked, it gets increasingly built up. Low flying airliners pass over on their descent into Kagoshima Airport. Sakurajima is much larger and clearer now. I plan to be down there tomorrow. I check into my hotel and it is still early so I head up to the main shrine nearby, Kagoshima Jingu, from where it is believed the modern prefecture of Kagoshima took its name.
Kagoshima Jingu is connected to the founding myths of Japan and was supposedly built by the mythical first emperor Jimmu. The approach to the shrine is a hive of activity, lanterns decorated with children's paintings are strung all over and stalls are being set up... there is going to be a matsuri tonight!! What luck.
There is nothing more fun that coming upon a matsuri unexpectedly. I wander around taking photos in the fading light. In the main hall I watch two miko, shrine maidens, practicing their dance for the ceremony tonight. It's rather surreal without music. I chat with another miko and she tells me what events will be happening, so even though I was hoping to get an early night it seems I will be back later after dark for the festivities.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 27
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