Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Visiting Kagoshima City - The rest of Shiroyama

** Looks like mediafire is down again. Sorry about that.

As you go up the back side of Shiroyama (from the perspective of the Kagoshima-chuo station) towards Saigo's hideout cave you encounter this little shrine. Right next to it are some walled off sections of the hill. There's no sign here marking the area, but there's a good chance that these are the tunnel entrances used for the old aqueduct works. If this were the U.S., some kids would have dug new entrances in around the walled-off portions by now...

A little farther on is an opening in the woods beside the road where 13 stone Buddhas have been installed. These statues look very similar to the "jizo" statues that are commonly found along roads and in little neighborhood shrines, so maybe they were just ordinary jizos fitted with new clothing.

According to the sign, a certain monk decided to make an 88-station pilgrimage route on the island of Shikoku, where each of the stops represents a human sin. This is a very famous walking route, and apparently the city of Kagoshima is paying homage to 13 of the statues from that route here.

At the back of the clearing is a narrow dirt path that leads another 3-4 meters into the brush.

A small shrine along the short trail. Note the doggy dish at the bottom. Not sure who or what is being fed here.

Discarded basket hats. The statues periodically receive new clothing to keep them warm.

As you get near the end of the road going up Shiroyama towards the observatory, you pass through a tunnel and come out at a parking lot. There are several souvenir stands selling trinkets, shirts, baked sweet potatoes, wood carvings, and other stuff. But almost no customers right now. The majority of the visitors arrive on the city view buses, and only have a few minutes to get to the observatory before going back down for the return ride.

The grounds at the top of Shiroyama were at one time the home of a local feudal lord and his family. Later, the land was cleared out and made the site of a clock cannon. The cannon would fire a paper confetti ball, and the sound generated was called "don" in Japanese ("boom"). For this reason, the area was called "Don Square", and the phrase, "when you hear 'don' it is time for lunch" refers to the cannon booming at midday.

(What's left of Don Square.)

At the back of the square, there's a jungle gym with a zip line running to a stand about 50 feet away. Doesn't look like it's being used anymore, since the steel cable is all frayed. The orange thing at the top left of the photo is the zip pulley.

(Another view of the jungle gym.)

(A more modern installation at the far corner of the square.)

(This may be an old water pumping station, at the end of a short trail running up from the back of Don Square.)

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