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Friday, May 22, 2015

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 64 Nagasaki to Nagaura

A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 64, Nagasaki to Nagaura
Thursday March 6th 2014

I catch a train north out of Nagasaki from Nagasaki Station to avoid the long slog through the city with its rush hour traffic. From Michinoo station it is still really built up and busy but at least I've avoided a long slow climb. I soon reach Togitsu, and, as I am prone to do, I notice the manhole covers that depict some sort of towering rock formation. A little bit further and I can see the rock pillar protruding above the tree on the hillside behind the main road. Apparently it's called Tsugi Ishi Bozu. I decline the detour up the hillside for a closer look.

Once I get to what appears to be the town center I do make a detour. My map shows a big shrine that I fancy exploring. On my way to the shrine I come across what must have been a rich man's house. It is all locked up and there is no signboard explaining what it is or who it belonged to. Not much different from many similar houses I've come across that are open to the public with an entrance fee.

Inari Shrine with fox figurines.

I find the shrine on the hillside nearby. It's an Inari shrine, which are usually very popular, and there are lots of smaller shrines scattered around. Inside the main hall is a statue of a female figure riding a fox, one of the two most common representations of Inari, the other being an old white-haired man carrying rice.

As with all Inari shrines there are hundreds of small fox figurines left as offerings. There is also a white stone komainu though it is very much in Chinese style, not so uncommon in the Nagasaki area I guess.

I head back to the main road and soon reach the shore of Omura Bay. The railway line and expressway head up the eastern shore of the bay and I am taking the route up what I hope to be the much quieter western shore. Lined up on the concrete wharf here at the southern edge there are four Ebisu statues. Probably collected together here from the surrounding neighborhood. Ebisu seems to be very popular here in Nagasaki.

The main road hugs the shore where infill and concrete have extended the land out into the water. Fortunately I can take the older roads that quietly wind through the villages. There are shrines aplenty including several more to Inari. At one shrine there is a sumo ring in the grounds. A raised area of packed earth with a thick rope layed out in a circle embedded in the ground.

Omura Bay, Kyushu, Japan.

Some areas of Japan tend to have sumo rings at shrines whereas some don't. As I get further away from the conurbation of Nagasaki the scenery of the bay becomes prettier. It's a narrow, convoluted bay with lots of small islands. It's actually more like a lake as the inlet into the bay is just a very narrow channel that I will be crossing tomorrow.

There are a lot of love hotels, though they seem to be a little more modern and upmarket than those I usually encounter in rural areas. The traffic thins a little as the day wears on, though detours off the main road to visit shrines are a peaceful break. The road cuts inland and rises to cross over a headland that juts into the bay.

As I come down the other side I see Nagaura nestles along the water ahead. It's still relatively early in the day but I have booked a room here in a small waterfront ryokan. I am the only guest and my room looks out over the water. I spend the last few hours of the day sitting on the dock of the bay watching the colors of the view across the water change as the sun gets lower behind me.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 63

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