Thursday, March 31, 2011

Izumi

Izumi is a small city on the island of Kyushu, along the western coast as you're heading south toward Kagoshima. At some point after Kumamoto City, the Shinkansen starts stopping at every station, and Izumi is one of those stops. The only real reason for coming here was that the hotel was relatively cheap.



Originally, there was a private train line, called the Orange Line, that ran along the same route as the shinkansen. The old building is still being used as a waiting area for the Orange train, but it's really rundown and rusted out. You can barely see the new building in the background.



The primary draw for tourists is the fact that Izumi is a stopping place for Japanese cranes between January and February. The crane motif shows up everywhere throughout the town. One of the attractions is the "crane resting place" about 3 kilometers from the station. I didn't get there simply because I wasn't in the city all that long. That and I was here in the middle of March.





The front of the main entrance to the shinkansen station. It's my contention that the crane was the inspiration for the design.



The top of the building entrance, with the "crane head" ornament.



The road running straight out from the train station crosses over a small river before passing by a pachinko parlor and neighboring western-style drug store. Because the drugstore was one of the few places to get certain supplies, I ended up crossing over the bridge several times. At one point, I was able to see this guy. Unfortunately, he was camera shy, and even from about 100 feet away, he didn't like being stared at and quickly flew off shortly after this shot.




Steam locomotive in front of the station.




Artwork in front of a second hotel in front of the station. At first I'd thought it was made up of PVC tubing, but later I concluded that it's bamboo and other pieces of wood.




The downtown region of Izumi is just as rundown as the old train station, and many of the shops are shuttered, although some of them may only be open during the tourist season. But right in the middle of the other buildings in a small Buddhist shrine with stairs leading up the small hill to the actual temple building. This statue is part of the entrance arrangement.




This guy was in front of a car shop that had a velociraptor as its logo. I was glad to see that it was still on its leash.




This guy is "guri buu". "Buu" is the Japanese word for "oink", and "guri" is probably an abbreviation of "green". He seems to be on Japan Rail promotional ads all along this region down into Kagoshima, so it's not just something local.




Finally, we have what happens when people practice archery in the street and don't notice the oncoming steamrollers... Actually, a number of very prominent samurai families used to live about 6 kilometers from the station just past the current downtown area. The buildings are still there and have been designated historical spots. I'll post the photos of that next time. This manhole cover is dedicated to those samurai. Who wouldn't know a steamroller if it hit them...

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