Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kenmin no Mori Walk, Part 1

(There are buses that run through the prefecture of Mizobe, especially those that are part of the express route to the airport, but in some areas it's only 3 buses per day, with the last one at 1:30 PM. Note that Tokyo's not the only place that likes cute mascots.)

While the area around the Kagoshima Airport is remote by comparison to the main city surrounding the Kagoshima bullet train station (40 minutes away by express bus), that doesn't mean that there's absolutely nothing out in the countryside. Running past the airport is an expressway, and largely paralleling the expressway is an ordinary side street. Heading north from the airport on this street, you go past 2 shuttered convenience stores, some clinics (both for humans and animals), a couple business hotels, a gravel company, some sake shops, a couple vegetable stores, a Lawson's convenience store, and lots and lots of tea fields. The Kirishima Tea brand apparently enjoys a good reputation in Japan.


(More tea.)

(Dead tea.)

(The building in the background is a processing plant. Apparently, it's necessary to replace the bushes occasionally, and they get piled up along the sidewalk.)

The Lawson's is about 15 minutes out by foot, and there's a fairly consistent vehicle traffic along the way. About a block further on is a sign for the Kirishima Open Air Museum (36 km), Myoken Spa (7.9 km), and the Kareigawa Train Station (2.7); followed by a second sign for the Kirishima Spa Resort and something called the Miyama Conseru. I'd argue that "conseru" means"Consul", but the image that accompanies the name looks like sheet music, so maybe it's "concert hall".

Interestingly, next to the Lawson's is a 3-story wooden structure that you can enter that acts as a resting place for people that want to just sit in the shade and talk to each other. From the top of the structure, you can easily see that one of the airport landing strips runs all the way along the street, and actually ends even with the Lawson's. It's hard to realize just how long landing strips are until you try to walk the full length of them.

(Entrance for visiting the torii.)

Continuing along the street you eventually cross under the expressway and start getting into the hills. At the 50 minute mark you're near the foot of the routes leading to both a torii (Japanese gate) and the one library in the region. There are several elementary and junior high schools within a 5-mile radius of the library, and if you have a car it's easy enough to reach. It's actually a nice library, but it's up a fairly steep hill that takes another 5-10 minutes to walk, and you'll be sweating hard at the top. Plus, it's mostly unused. There's an art gallery space, several classrooms, and what looks like a modern art theater space, which are all blocked off. The library room itself is the size of a medium-sized apartment, and there were more people in the staff office than there were in the entire rest of the building. The primary visitors to the library room were mothers with young children, and school girls that liked sending chat messages to each other's cell phones. Also along the entrance road to the library is the path leading to the Iwatoko Park (which I didn't have time to visit this time.) Figure 1 hour to get to the library itself by foot.

According to the road signs, it's 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the airport to Iwatoko, but at my walking speed I'd like to think that I'd gone closer to 3 miles. On the other side of the street from the entrance road to the library is a parking spot for the Takayasanjoryo torii. There are three staircases - the first is 178 steps. A little farther along the path is one of 14 steps, and then a 9-step one at the end. The torii itself is kind of disappointing - it's made from poured concrete and is isolated behind some fences. Running along the torii is another road (no steps) that parallels the street and gradually leads down to a waterworks building before intersecting the street again.

(On the way to see the torii, there was this clump of strange plants. At first, I thought that the flowers on top had died.)

(They remind me of hooded cobras, so I'm calling them "snake flowers" for the moment.

(The concrete gate-like thing in the middle back of the photo is the torii.)

(Continuing on out the back way.)

(More modern ornaments.)

(And the sign says "Mizobe Waterworks".)

(And this is where the waterwork's clean water comes out...)

To be continued in Part 2.

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