A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 58, Takeo Onsen to Kashima
Sunday February 16th 2014
I head off in the dark as I have a long distance to cover before I reach my room I've booked in Kashima tonight. On the top of a hill to the south of the town I come to my first port of call, the Saga Prefecture Space & Science Museum.
I have heard that the museum is quite good, but I am far too early to be able to go inside and anyway it is the architecture that interests me. Like so many of these provincial museums, the architects have indulged themselves and created a modernist collage of protruding shapes and geometric solids reminiscent of a Sci-Fi movie rendered space structure, freed from gravity.
I have attended many village shrine ceremonies over the years, and it is always just men. I have yet to see a woman at such an event. As I get close to Ureshino I reach a bigger road and pass under an expressway. I find the place I have been eagerly anticipating, the Ureshino Hihokan, which translates as "Museum of Hidden Treasures," a euphemism for sex museum.
It would be hard to know what it was if you didn't read Japanese, as there was not a lot of signage, the most visible thing being a large golden statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon flanked by a pair of Nio which made the building appear to be some sort of religious structure.
There used to be a lot more of these places, many, like this one, in hot spring resorts, but they are disappearing. This one will be closing next month so I was glad of the opportunity to visit.
For now I will just say that it was fascinating and over the top kitsch, though it also had many example of the traditional stone phalli that I continue to seek out on my explorations of the backwaters of Japan.
A few minutes after leaving the Hihokan I leave the main road and take a smaller road towards the coast. All morning I had been climbing slightly, but now the road starts to descend. I notice a lot of houses have thatched roofs, rather the thatched roofs that have been covered over with tin. I am not sure when they started to do that, and you will also sometimes see a thatched roof that has been covered in tile. I do see a couple with the thatch uncovered, and one is a very large house with relatively new thatch.
At the junction in the road that leads to Yoshida the bus stop is in the shape of a tea pot. Yoshida is known for its ceramics. As I reach the coastal plain I can see Kashima ahead, a decent sized town by the look of it. There are two pilgrimage temples nearby as well as some other sites I want to see but the sun is low in the sky so I will leave them till tomorrow. My ryokan is south of the busy town centre, on the edge of the old town so I look for a supermarket to stock up on provisions as I have booked a room with no meals.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 57
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