A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 76, Friday March 28th, 2014
Kashi to Munakata
I wake early, filled with anticipation at the prospect of finishing my epic walk around Kyushu. It's taken more than two months out of the past year or so, today being the 76th day of walking, but also each leg of the walk has entailed another two days to get down to Kyushu and to get back home, and factoring in the amount of time I've spent on research and planning, this walk has been a big chunk of my life for the past year.
I have a long way to go today so I head off when it is just getting light in the clear sky. My first port of call is Hakozaki Shrine, a few kilometers north of Hakata. By the time I get there the sun is up and there are perfect conditions for photography with deep, long shadows and golden light. The main gate, at the end of a long approach way that leads to the sea, is most impressive.
It has a massive roof. The base of the gate measures about 40 square meters, but the roof covers 275 square meters. Hakozaki Shrine is most well known for having been burned to the ground during the Mongol invasion in 1274. From here I head north and take a small detour off my route to visit another major shrine, Kashii Jingu, which I had never been to before.
The grounds of the shrine are large with several big ponds and big trees. The gate is supposed to be worth a look but unfortunately its covered in scaffolding and blue tarps. The shrine is associated with the mythical "empress" Jingu and her husband, Chuai. Some sources say that Chuai is buried here, and others say Jingu erected the shrine to pacify his soul. He died near here, but in the Meiji Period when the government set about creating the modern imperial system, they decided his tomb was up in the Yamato area, though there was absolutely no historical or textual evidence for it.
It's turned out to be a glorious day, and there are lots of visitors enjoying the cherry blossoms. From here my route heads north along a main and busy road, and as I have been spending too much time exploring shrines I decide to cheat and hop on a train. At Fukuma I head off in search of temple number 86, Kaishinji.
When I find it I am completely surprised to find Tony, the Australian bike pilgrim, there! I had thought he was well finished by now, but apparently he had some detours to make to temples he missed way back at the start of the pilgrimage. The priest's wife who was signing Tony's stamp book, is also surprised. I am certain there had been no foreign pilgrims coming to the temple before, and now she had two of them, and she refused to believe that we were not travelling together. Tony heads off. He'll finish in an hour or so, but I will be a few hours behind him.
On my way to Kaishinji I notice the large torii and approach to Miyajidake Shrine just up the road, and even though I have been there before I take the small detour. It's another shrine associated with Jingu, and the kofun (burial mound), which dates from the 6th to 7th centuries has yielded many grave goods that are now National Treasures.
I don't take the time to explore the grounds, but marvel at the huge shimenawa hanging in front of the main hall. I guess it is the second largest in Japan. After the one at Izumo Taisha in Izumo, Shimane. I head off towards the next temple.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 75 Part II
Inside Track Japan For Kindle