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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 24 Yowara to Nichinan

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 24
Yowara to Nichinan
Friday March 29th, 2013

This is the 11th and final day of this leg of my walk around Kyushu and I have pretty much walked across the prefecture of Miyazaki from north to south. Today I have two pilgrimage temples to visit before heading home. I'm going to walk this section in reverse, from the end point back to where I finished yesterday as the local train operates very few trains and it is much more convenient to do it that way.

I am up before light in my hotel in Miyazaki and catch the first train down to Yowara, a small settlement in a narrow mist-filled valley that is home to an interesting shrine I wanted to visit. Connected to the great Udo Jingu shrine I visited yesterday, because of its remote location it is far less well visited or known, but is decorated with a lot of fine ornate and painted carvings. It is still really early and so there is no-one about that I can ask about the shrine's history, which is a shame as local people are usually only too happy to explain things to foreigners.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 24 Yowara to Nichinan

I head down the valley and as I approach the coast the mist lifts and shows it to be a grey overcast day. I pass through Nango and on the other side of the town come to the first temple, Chomanji, a nondescript, low, concrete structure reached by crossing over the single railway track.

The priest and a couple of elderly women parishioners are in the main hall having a ceremony so my visit has a soundtrack of drum and chant. Then I reach the coast, with inlets and bays and offshore spires of rocks and steep islets. This is apparently quite a popular seaside resort area, but now in the off season there are few visitors.

By lunchtime I reach Aburatsu, a largish port extended out into the sea by concrete. Across the town on the far hillside I can see the next temple. The temple itself is dark and wooden at the base of the hill, but above it on the hillside is the okunoin, the "inner" hall, of concrete with a red roof.

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 24 Yowara to Nichinan

The town itself has a few places of interest..... an old stone bridge, and in front of a shrine a statue of a young woman. I don't recognize her name, but I photograph the information board for later translation and study. The most intriguing thing for me was an old three storey store on the main street. Built in a style that incorporates bits of western and Japanese features, there is something quite beautiful about it. This type of architecture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries has in recent years become quite attractive to me, though I would hesitate to say exactly why.

I head upriver, inland towards Nichinan Station and the train home. I pass through an arcade, common in most towns, and in the cities always bustling with activity. It's Friday afternoon, not a closing day, but the vast majority of storefronts are shuttered and the only people are schoolkids cycling through. It may be that the desolation is because this is a tourist area and it's out of season, but it seems more likely that this is just the state of small towns in rural Japan.

So, on a very conservative estimate I have covered 260 kilometers on this leg, making a grand total of 630km. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the what I expect the total walk to be.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Kyushu Day 23

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