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Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30 Across Kagoshima City

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30
Across Kagoshima City
Tuesday July 30th, 2013

I am going to be based here in Kagoshima for another two nights, so for today's completely urban section of the walk I can leave my heavy backpack in my room.

Priest at temple in Kagoshima

By now the oppressive summer heat has become bearable and today's clearing skies offer a slight reduction in humidity. The plan is to head back out to the northern edge of the city and walk across it visiting the two pilgrimage temples here and head south out of the city as far as I can.

Hemmed in between the mountains and the sea, Kagoshima is not very wide, but very long. I find the first temple tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. Not much to speak of and there is no-one around.

Most pilgrims carry a nokyocho, a book for collecting stamps and calligraphy from each temple, but at 300 yen a pop I don't carry one so I don't have to disturb anyone at the temple.

With 108 temples on this pilgrimage, times 300 yen, that would buy me 8 or 9 nights accommodation, much more important on my limited budget. An hour later I reach the next temple, closer to downtown. It's a modern concrete building raised off the ground to provide parking spaces under the building. As I climb up the steps to the main hall the priest comes out and invites me in for a tea and a chat.

He asks if I would like some prayers for the rest of the journey and so we go outside and stand in front of the Kannon statue while he chants for me. As I make to leave he hands me a can of coffee and some fruit, o-settai, gifts given to pilgrims.

On the Shikoku pilgrimage o-settai is fairly common, often from strangers. Here in Kyushu I have had some, but most of them have been given by priests or their wives at the pilgrimage temples.

I carry on south through the anonymous, urban environment. The names of the banks may change, but so many of the stores and businesses are national chains. I make a detour to the campus of the Kagoshima University where there is a new auditorium designed by the famous architect Tadao Ando.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 30 Across Kagoshima City

The sun breaks through when I arrive which allows me to take advantage of the shadow for some nice photos of it. It's interesting enough, and I appreciate Ando's work the more I see of it, but like too many pieces of modern architectural design the surrounding buildings, power lines, and such, don't allow the design to show itself off.

Another couple of hours and I reach the southernmost station of the city tram, so call it a day. Being high summer there is till a lot of daylight left so I head to the aquarium to see what it has to offer.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 29

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