A Walk Around Kyushu
Minami Satsuma to Ichiki
Monday August 5th, 2013
I'm up early to an overcast day. On this section of the pilgrimage the temples are far apart, but today I will be visiting one.
I head off through a deserted downtown Kaseda. I pass two railway locomotives. One a smallish steam engine, and the other a diesel. Strange really as there is no railway line here now, but obviously there was one once upon a time.
I've actually lost count of the number of steam engines set up as monuments all over Japan. They seem to be very proud of their railway heritage, and they have every right to be, the railway being one of the contributing factors to Japan's rapid modernization in the late 19th century.
My route follows the main road north and will eventually travel along the coast. It's not particularly busy, which is good as, like so many roads in Japan, there are sections without sidewalks.
My original plan for today was to get as far as Yunomoto, a hot spring resort with plenty of cheap minshuku, and then tomorrow get to the station at Satsuma-Sendai and head home, but last night I heard that friends I haven't seen in a while will be putting on a concert near my home tomorrow evening, so I've decided to really push it today and try to do two days walking in one.
It starts to drizzle. Not a lot of fun, but being wet and sweaty is not as uncomfortable as being wet and cold. The rain becomes showery and I just put my head down and concentrate on covering ground. No time to explore or look around for anything interesting.
The road starts to run along the coast. It might be pretty in the sunlight, but with grey sky and grey water it isn't now. I stop in at a michi no eki and have a break under cover with my pack off. I can see a shrine set in a grove of trees about 500 meters away but can't be bothered to go and explore.
Around the middle of the day the showers ease off a little and I leave the main road and cut through a village to reach pilgrimage temple number 49, Kenzanji.
The driveway leading into the temple has some really nice artwork. Fairly flat blue/grey rocks with pictures of Buddhas etched into them and painted gold. I don't remember seeing any quite like this before. The main hall of the temple is a big surprise. It's a Portakabin....., quite a large one for sure, but still its one of those temporary buildings that are dropped in to building sites.
There does not appear to be any immediate plans for a "proper" hall to be built. Of course there is no reason at all why a temple should have an expensive, architectural marvel. Nothing wrong with humble.
Behind the portakabin are a couple of altars and a small man-made cave containing a Fudo Myo statue painted bright blue. The rocks behind are painted with flames and its quite a quirky thing. The whole place is a little quirky. Nothing wrong with quirky.
I head off and decide to not go back to the main road but to cut across country roughly following the train line. I pass through Yunomoto and phone the minshuku to cancel my booking. By late afternoon I reach Ichiki and decide that's it. I hop on a train the short distance into Sendai and book into a hotel. That's the end of this 10 day leg.
By a very conservative estimate I've walked 320km during the hottest part of the year, making the grand total somewhere around 1,000km. A good point to stop. I will come back down to Kyushu in the fall when the leaves are turning for the next leg.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 35
Inside Track Japan For Kindle