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Monday, May 12, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 32 Kagoshima to Ibusuki

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 32
Kagoshima to Ibusuki
Thursday August 1st, 2013

I take a train out to the southern outskirts of Kagoshima and head off down the main road. I have a room booked in Ibusuki tonight so I have a good distance to make and try to cover as much as I can before the day reaches its hottest part.

It's still pretty built up and the traffic is heavy so I don't look for interesting diversions such as shrines and just focus on moving. I pass by the largest solar power plant in Japan, with 290,000 solar panels covering 1.27 million square meters, it will generate 70 megawatts of power. From eye level nothing can be seen. By lunchtime I reach Miyagahama and can leave the main road and head inland a little to temple 47, Komyoji.

When I arrive I find scaffolding covered in blue tarps as the main hall is in the middle of being rebuilt. The priest and his wife invite me in to the air conditioned building that temporarily houses the altar and statue.

They ply me with fruit and cold drinks and give me more of both to take with me. Back at the main road I head off round the headland rather than take the direct route into Ibusuki. The coast road has numerous love hotels with names like Hotel Singapore and Hotel Hong Kong. At the tip of the headland I see what I had hoped for, Chiringa Island, a small island that for a few hours a day for just a few months a year is accessible by a sandbar revealed at low tide.

Chiringa Island, Kagoshima, Kyushu

I have arrived at an opportune moment as the sandbar is visible and I meet a couple of older gentlemen who have just walked back from the island. The tide is rising so I can't take the chance of going out myself. From here into downtown Ibusuki the coast is covered with upscale resort hotels.

In the grounds of one is The Satsuma Denshokan, a huge museum devoted to Satsuma ware, the highly decorative ceramics that became very popular in Europe in the latter half of the 19th century.

Like most of the "Japanese" ceramic types, it was created by Korean potters brought back from Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea. I am pleased to learn that in half the museum photography is allowed.

On my way to the museum I spied a curved metallic roof of some kind glinting in the distance, so I headed off to investigate and was amazed by what I found.

Looking like something from a SF manga, it is the Nanohanakan, a sports complex for the elderly. There were huge indoor gateball courts, indoor swimming pools, and even a residential complex. They were expecting senior citizens to come here from other parts of Japan.

Like so many of these white elephants, the reality did not match the pre-bubble dream, and now most structures are locked and empty. I spend about an hour literally rushing around trying to get as many good shots as I can.

Nanohanakan, Kagoshima, Kyushu

By the time I'm finished its late afternoon and there is still a few kilometers to go to my minshuku, so I decide to take a short bus ride. I get on the bus and go to my wallet to get the fare ready for when I get off and, horror of horrors, I can't find my wallet. I never lose my wallet, literally never.

The last time I saw it was about 2 hours ago when I bought a drink from a vending machine on my way here from the Denshokan. With adrenaline surging I quickly hop off the bus and start to retrace my steps around the sports complex. I don’t find my wallet, so I start to walk back towards the Denshokan, eyes scanning the ground in front of me.

At the vending machine my wallet is just sitting there on the wall. In all likelihood there has been no-one walking by it as it is a very quiet road and no-one is out and about in the heat. I trudge slowly back to the bus stop and catch the next bus into the station and walk to my room. It has been a long, hot day, made even more tiring by the adrenaline and rushing around looking for my wallet.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 31

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