A Walk Around Kyushu
Satsuma Sendai to Sogi no Taki
Thursday November 21st, 2013
After a three month break I am back in Kyushu to continue my walk. This leg will take me from Satsuma Sendai to Kumamoto.
For the first few days I will roughly follow the Sendai River upstream and briefly re-enter Miyazaki. Then its over some mountains and three days following the Kuma River downstream to the coast at Yatsushiro, then directly north to Kumamoto. It's late November, and the fall colors have started where I live, but here in the warmer south they come much later but I am hoping as I get into the mountains I will be rewarded with a fine palette of colors for my photos.
With only a month until the shortest days of the year the days are not very long so I am up well before the sun and make a visit to the main shrine of Sendai, Nitta Shrine. On top of a hill overlooking the river while I am at the shrine the sun comes up. I start to head up river towards the first of today's two pilgrimage temples. I climb up to the embankment from the main road and walk along it. The mist floating over the river starts to thin and burn off.
By lunchtime I reach temple number 46, Hojyoji, a fairly large temple and behind it a set of 88 statues set along a wooded path, a miniature Shikoku pilgrimage.
Walking down the hill along a farm road on my way to join the main road along the river I come across a tanokami - a rice paddy god. The area I am heading in to is famous for tanokami and I'm glad to be able to discover one already.
It's only 8 kilometers to the next temple, Satsumayakushiji, but to reach it I have to leave the river and follow the main road. It's a smaller temple, in a modern concrete building, but there is a small cave with an altar right next to it. Because I am not carrying a Nokyocho, a book for getting temple stamps in, I often don't get to meet the priest, which is sometimes a shame as I can't ask about things.
From here the route heads north east towards Miyazaki, but I am going to take a detour north back to the river to visit Sogi no Taki Falls. The road starts to wind into the mountains, and I pass another tanokami by the side of the road.
Soon the sidewalk disappears and there are a lot of trucks, so when I pass a bus stop that tells me there is a bus in ten minutes I decide to take it. Once I get off the bus there is still a 5 kilometer walk to the waterfalls and the sun is almost to the horizon. I want to get there while it is still light so I can get some photos, so I push myself a little too hard and pull a muscle in my leg.
Grimacing I push on and do in fact reach the falls - often described as "the Niagara of the Orient" - while there is still sunlight. With a bunch of small falls across a 120 meter wide drop in the river, it is pretty enough, but to equate it with the mighty Niagara Falls is a bit much. Like calling a small 100 meter high hill in Wales "the Welsh Mt Fuji". The Japanese seem obsessed with making comparisons.
There is a big park next to the falls, and it is famous for fall colors. Tomorrow is a big festival here so masses of floodlights are being set up to illuminate the trees, along with tents and stages.
I had hoped to sleep in the park but with so much equipment around there is a security cabin set up with 24 hour guards so I must go to plan B. Across the river on a quiet side road is a small shrine. Recently rebuilt on a concrete foundation, it provides a shelf under the overhanging roof where I can lay out my bed for the night.
Once it's dark I see them testing the lighting over in the park so head over and a get a few shots of lit up trees, then time to sleep and try and heal my limping leg.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 36
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